Interview with Ron Jasperson
Date: February 17, 2012
Name: Ron Jasperson
Major and graduation year: Business Management / 1973
Job Title: I am now retired, but my previous position was "Methods Supervisor."
Organization/ Place of work: Andersen Corporation / Bayport, Minnesota
You're a Methods Supervisor, what does that entail? What are your duties or responsibilities?
-As a methods supervisor, my job was to organize my group in order to keep accurate and current information on how much output we could count on for each of our hundreds of machines in the Bayport operation. We also tracked how our 3,000,000 square feet of floor space was utilized; whether it was used for production equipment, storage space, alley space, office space, utilities support and possibly other general areas.
What are the highlights of your job that you enjoy most?
- I think that the most satisfying part of my job is to know that we were a very efficient company and that my group and I had a hand in its effectiveness. We put out millions of window and door units in a year and we needed to utilize our equipment to its fullest to minimize capital expenditures, but we also did not want to get caught short of production capability.
What are the challenges that you face with your job that are not enjoyable?
-There was a great deal of stress with the job as we had to take a Marketing forecast, convert the annual projections into a peak week scenario, and make sure that we had enough equipment in place to support the projected forecast. The answer was not just to buy equipment because, of course, equipment could be very expensive and if it wasn't utilized it was a waste of money. Also, the floor space to put the equipment on was costly and if we overbought it would cause us to build unnecessary buildings which too would be a waste of money.
How do you spend your work days? Do you spend a lot of time office/lab/meetings/outside/___?
-Over the course of my 33 year career at Andersens I worked different shifts (including production for five years) and spent different amounts of time in different atmospheres. I will give you my general office day. Usually I started work at about 6:00 a.m. and worked until about 3:30 but those hours varied depending on what major item we were working on. I spent about 50% of my time at my desk compiling statistics and working on space or capacity issue resolutions. I spent about 40% of my time on the production floor evaluating a present need. I spent about 10% of my time in meetings. Sometimes, when working with outside consultants, my hours would be up to 80 hours a week. I remember going to work at 2:00 am and not leaving until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.
How did this type of job/field interest you and how did you get started?
-I actually worked at Andersens for four summers when I was going to school at Superior. After graduation, I went back to Andersens and got on for a fifth summer. By coincidence, business was unusually busy in the fall of 1973 and those 'summer help' employees that were not going back to college got a chance to stay on in a production job. I worked for five years in production until I got a chance to move into the 'Methods' department. The Methods department would probably be best described as an 'Industrial Engineering' department in today's terms.
I have always been interested in numbers and statistics and when I got a chance to get into Methods it was a natural fit for me. My Methods supervisor found me; I was not pursuing an office job at the time but because I had a college degree I was recognized as a candidate for the job and got a chance to move into Methods.
What qualifications did you need to obtain this job?
-At the time, Andersens did not have strict rules as to what qualifications were needed for Methods. I had a business background, which was good, and a college degree, which got me noticed and got continual training while I was working at Andersens.
What personal qualities or abilities do you believe contribute most to success in this job/field?
- I think the qualities that I possessed that helped me the most in my job is my ability to work with numbers, my organizational skills as a writer, my drive to do things correctly, and a never give up attitude.
What organizations were you involved in College that helped you towards your career?
-I wasn't really involved in too many organizations at Superior. I ran on the cross country team and played intramural sports and attended classes. The things that helped me the most prepare me for my career was my upbringing at home, my classes at Osceola high school and my classes at Superior.
My upbringing at home taught me how to be honest and work hard and not to wait for someone else to do things. My high school classes were good and I found that when I got to Superior I had an edge on students from other schools at UW-S. At Superior I was able to find a major that fit my skills and desires and even though I didn't need a Business Management degree to get my job at Andersens it helped me immensely once I was hired at AW (Andersen Windows).
What degree/s is appropriate for this line of work?
-Now days AW is probably looking specifically for people with a particular degree to be hired for a specific job. An Industrial Engineering degree would be appropriate for the work that I eventually did at AW but it wasn't a requirement at the time that I started.
Where and/or what do you hope to be in 2-5 years? 5-10 years? What are the keys to this career advancement?
-In 2-5 years I probably will be fully retired. Right now I have retired from AW (did so at age 55) and have enjoyed retirement for 5.5 years. I am a part time sports writer for The Sun newspaper in Osceola and probably will give that up within the next 2-5 years. I give Ms. Cain (I believe), a UW-S professor credit for honing my writing skills when I was at UW-S. In 5-10 years I will still be retired because no one will be hiring 'old people' at the time (my attempt at humor). I will probably be taking each day as it unfolds and try to make good decisions in my life based on what is presented to me. I have three children, all unmarried, and of course will be greatly interested in their lives if they allow me to be.
What was the best piece of advice you received and from who that helped you towards your career?
-The best piece of advice I ever received was from my mother. Her words were, "Be honest." I have always tried to be honest in my professional career. I think some frustrating moments during my career would arise when I would see other people not being honest. When I came home at night and looked into the mirror I knew that I did things to the best of my ability. I could sleep well at night and not have to worry whether or not a little white lie might get to the wrong person.
Do you have any advice or "words from experience" for a college student interested in this job/field?
- For a student who wants to get into Industrial Engineering is to jump in with both feet. The competition for jobs is intense and with unemployment rate at over 8% and underemployed at up to 15%, there is a lot of competition. Know what you do best and sell yourself to an employer. You will not be the best in every aspect of a job description, but be willing to learn and work with others. Someone will help you in where you come up a little short, but be ready to help someone else out when you have the expertise. It is not a competition between employees, but rather a working family for all to try to help make the bottom line better.
If you knew all this back in college, what would you say were the most important classes? Is there anything you would have paid more attention to? Any additional classes you would have taken?
-With where technology was when I retired as compared to where it was when I started at UW-S it is mind boggling. One of the classes I had at UW-S was called business machines and it was basically a class on how to run a calculator (and a basic calculator at that). In today's world the class offerings are so much greater that it is hard to compare. I think that the most important class that I took at UW-S was called Business Statistics. I used what I learned from that course and applied the concepts to my job on a daily basis.
In college, people claim that a bachelor's degree isn't enough anymore and that you need a master's or doctorate degree to get your foot in the door. What's your opinion?
- To me, this comment is too general. There are still good jobs for people in 'trade fields' that do not require a bachelor's degree. There are thousands of jobs at AW that do not require education beyond a high school diploma. It obviously depends on what your goals are. Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor or a 'rocket scientist.' Obviously in a field where advanced education is required, you will not be looked at without an advanced degree. Our country needs to be a blend of different levels of education but we all need a high degree of motivation. I have a daughter that has a Master's degree and is still looking for a job in her field. Without the Master's degree, I don't think that she would have a chance of finding a job in her area of expertise. It all depends on what you want and how bad you want it.