From Fire Hydrants to Finance

by Rafael Alton, MBA ’14

Rafael Alton, MBA ’14

As I sit on the chartered bus back to Ithaca, collecting my thoughts from a hectic, three-day whirlwind of a trip, I can easily remember what not only drew me to Johnson’s Semester in Strategic Operations (SSO) Immersion but also to a future career in Operations.

Our trip began in Elmira, New York where we visited Kennedy Valve, a fire hydrant and industrial valve company which, for someone coming from a background in manufacturing, was right up my alley.

The second day brought us to Macy’s Logistics and Operations center in Seacaucus, NJ where we took in the intricate and high-paced operations involved with fulfilling the many channels that Macy’s services. We all readied ourselves for a late evening when at 10:00 p.m. we loaded the bus once again to visit Quest Diagnostics, a medical laboratory, to learn about its supply chain and internal operations.

Today, our final day on the trek, took me out of my personal comfort zone and focused mostly on service operations. We began with a full tour and Q&A session at the hotel where we stayed, the Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel, and concluded at the world renowned, Goldman Sachs Operations headquartered in Jersey City, NJ. Not only were the views of New York City breathtaking, but the wealth of knowledge that several VPs were able to share with us was impressive. Even more so than before, I can now see the importance to good operational strategies not only within manufacturing plants, but with service operations as well.

Having these additional on-site experiences has already proven very helpful in my search for internships. During a recent interview, I was asked to analyze a case involving semi-conductors, and quite frankly, I would not usually have known much more than the basics about these tiny pieces of technology. And while it was not essential to mastering the case, our recent trip to Kionix, a local accelerometer manufacturer, helped give me an inside scoop on some best practices towards optimizing efficiencies in a discipline to which I was not previously savvy.

The Semester in Strategic Operations Immersion is a big piece of what initially drew me to Johnson when I was researching schools during my application process, but now that I am actively in the Immersion, I can testify that it has greatly increased my knowledge base in industries, in colleagues outside of Johnson at Cornell, and obviously in operational strategies and efficiencies. And perhaps most importantly, it’s a great time!