News continues to circulate about companies and individuals stepping up to aid those fighting on the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many leading this charge are MSU alumni who are acting in the “Spartans Will” spirit by standing together and being resourceful to overcome this challenge.
Christine Sitek (B.A. Material and Logistics Management ’89) is leading her team at General Motors to secure roughly one-third of the parts necessary for ventilator production. Sitek serves as the executive director of global purchasing and supply chain at GM, the largest American automobile manufacturer.
“This global pandemic has been an extreme test in both personal and professional adaptability,” Sitek said. “General Motors has a very robust crisis management process that we were able to deploy very quickly. This process engaged our cross-functional teams to quickly understand our supply challenges.”
Sitek spoke of the transition to ventilator production as being incredibly natural. “Exercising our operational muscles on something so important and crucial was incredibly rewarding,” she said. “We have team members and supplier partners that worked around the clock to enable the fastest production solution possible. The entire effort is directly aligned with GM’s overriding priority of safety, so it felt incredibly natural and purposeful.”
GM has adapted to work diligently with Ventec Life Systems and its suppliers to enable critical care ventilator production at the company’s Kokomo, Indiana, manufacturing facility.
“In less than a month, Ventec, GM’s supply chain and its manufacturing, logistics, legal and talent acquisition teams were able to marshal support to deliver a 30,000-unit order from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” Sitek said. “The effort involved sourcing hundreds of parts and assemblies from suppliers, the design of a new manufacturing process, the transformation of GM’s Kokomo factory, the ongoing hiring of more than 1,000 manufacturing team members and the implementation of extensive health and safety protocols in the workplace.”
Sitek shared that GM is on track to ship out more than 600 ventilators this month, with completion of the entire order targeted for the end of August. “In addition, we have recruited several automotive partners to enable us to increase capacity,” she said. “It is incredible to see it coming together at Kokomo.”
As advice for fellow Spartans during this time, Sitek said, “Hang in there — we will get through this!”
Specifically, for those in leadership positions, she urged the “need to empathize, engage and motivate like we never have before.”
“Uncertainty and ambiguity can be more harmful than bad news itself. Communication has never been more important,” she said. “The briefest of check-ins could become incredibly powerful … We have to define reality but create hope and potential in this unprecedented environment. Most importantly, stay safe and healthy!”
Sitek is one example of the many Broad Spartan alumni working to make a difference right now, serving as an inspiration for others to reach higher and persevere together.