Victoria Hawley, Performance Excellence Business Partner, Oregon Dept. of Transportation
I got my start in process improvement at age eight making floor plans for an expansion to the family house. I took measurements, considered the requirements (two kids’ bedrooms and a bath), the constraints (doors, windows, heating ducts), and the review approval process (i.e. what was likely to get Dad to say yes?) In the end, my room was twice as big as my brothers’. I learned early -- the best way to get what you want is to understand how the process works. And be willing to do the hard work! The clincher was agreeing to patch the sheet-rock and paint. Today, I lead the Oregon Department of Transportation, Central Services Division Performance Excellence Team (PET). The PET supports the division and its leadership through education, training and consulting services in the areas of strategic planning, performance measures, and process improvement. The road to ODOT (no pun intended) looks like the route from Scappoose to Dundee: A relatively straight line on the map with several interesting twists at ground level. I once told my adult brother, “You know, one summer in college I worked near Minneapolis as a stripper.” A weather stripper for Andersen Windows. There I learned about time-based performance systems where ‘the suits’ periodically came around with stop watches to see how many pieces were processed during a set time. Of course, everyone slowed down during the test and sped up during regular production so they could meet bonus, typically 20% of regular pay. From there I worked in a division office of Northern States Power in the General Accounting department, before moving to Tacoma, WA, where my daughter was born. Interesting stints as a buyer in the construction supply business and finance in long-term health care led back to my first love -- the utility industry -- at Pacific Telecom Inc. (PTI is now part of Century Link) in Vancouver, WA. While overseeing the revenue reporting and analysis section for long distance services, I co-led a joint project to improve reporting between my company and AT&T, early adopters of quality management, writing their own book on process improvement called, “Painting the Roses Red.” If you want red roses, plant them. Don’t institutionalize a process to paint white ones. One project focusing on quality using a results-oriented approach and I was hooked! I eventually used this and similar experiences to reengineer my unit out of existence and become PTI’s first corporate process improvement coordinator. This was the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when quality management standards and process improvement were fresh and new to Oregon. To expand my experience and meet the growing need for experienced consultants, I left PTI after nine years to start my own company, Process Flow Specialists, Inc. Over the next 20 years I worked with high-tech, low tech, and aerospace companies to design and implement quality management systems based on ISO 9000 and AS-9100 standards. I became actively involved on the steering committees and boards of the Portland ISO 9000 Users Group, Oregon Quality Initiative, and American Society for Quality (ASQ) Portland Section. Spending half my time in the manufacturing world and half in the public sector, I also worked with ODOT and City of Salem to map, analyze, and redesign business processes.Much of this time I lived with my (new) husband, daughter, and a cat onboard a 37’ sailboat on the Columbia River before jumping ship, or small boat, as it were, for a 65’ steel trawler built for the US-Army, which we remodeled and refit for comfort and long-distance cruising. Semi-retiring in 2008, my husband and I sailed to Alaska and then to Mexico, where we cruised the Gulf of California for four years. I returned to ODOT as an employee in 2013 and live in Salem (my husband, still retired, escapes to the boat as often as he can), and now enjoy land cruising in my new Tesla and taking my grandson on adventures.