For this episode of the “PLM Quick 30,” we’re excited to reassemble with our two summer interns, Melissa Dove and Griffin Lynch. Melissa is a rising senior at Purdue University where she is studying industrial engineering. Griffin is a rising junior at the University of Pittsburgh where he studies computer science, mathematics, and philosophy. We discuss their experience at Archer Grey as they are about to complete the program.
Contact us if you’re ready to discuss a dynamic PLM strategy.
The transcript is close to a literal transcript of the spoken word. Please excuse any grammatical errors, spelling errors or break in the flow. The podcast is a non-scripted conversation with natural flow aimed to deliver value.
Patrick: You develop a plan, and then you execute the plan. And the majority of the work in consulting is executing the plan.
Melissa: Being able coming in as interns, and being able to actually help them out in that way, was pretty rewarding.
Griffin: It was kind of our job to take these big logs and things and just go in and make it so that they can actually get out that data when they needed to.
Patrick: And when you walk away if you didn’t meet that objective, there’s more work to do. Griffin and Melissa, welcome to ArcherGrey’s PLM Quick 30. This is the second part or second series of a two-part series related to your journey with your internship with ArcherGrey so welcome back.
Melissa: Thank you.
Griffin: Thanks for having us. Good to be back.
Patrick: You guys excited?
Patrick: It’s 4:00 in the morning. We’ll get started early. Make sure we get this out of the way.
Griffin: Got my Starbucks. Looking forward for a big day of studying-
Patrick: Yeah, that’s right.
Griffin: … working hard.
Patrick: Yeah, good. So I promised everybody at the beginning to reorient anybody who’s listening from what we talked about last time in June, you guys had just finished a week of orientation with us. And it was a bit kind of the transition before you were going to Oshkosh Defense, to spend the summer, helping them progress on some of the initiatives that they’re working on in their PLM journey and their overall journey and digital transformation. So if people missed out on that one, they can go back and listen to it in its entirety. But both of you were new to the PLM industry. And the technology associated to it. PTC is technology Windchill and related technology. And, so why don’t we just kick it right off and ask you about the overall journey from a high level, how was the internship and kind of walk us through from stepping in the door of Oshkosh Defense the first day and to where you are today.
Melissa: So I think it was a lot of new experiences. I’ve had some project work the past through school and stuff of being able to go and work with a client in a field that I’m not familiar with was something very new to me and very cool. I think so being able to kind of see how they go about their daily lives I have been Oshkosh and kind of being able to jump right into that was definitely something that I don’t think I would have gotten a lot of other internships.
Griffin: Yeah, I have to agree. I think that what I learned during my time in Oshkosh is that, a consultant basically works on two levels. And that was something that I learned more and more as time went on, is you operate from that higher level, that I saw a lot of during our training session where you’re always thinking of ways that you can come up with new and better ideas and ways that you can make things easier for the client or to do their work. But you’re also working on what they’ve given you. You have to be willing to kind of sit in the trenches and do what needs to be done so that the work is getting done.
Patrick: Yeah, I mean, those are good summaries that you guys both expressed their because that’s maybe the dirty little secret of consulting, there’s the high level strategic side where you make these massive impacts on the client when you come in, and there’s expectations of that. But ultimately, there’s the strategy to be developed. There’s the plan, and I think Melissa, you said it in the first podcast is some things that were applicable from your classes were that, you develop a plan, and then you execute the plan. And the majority of the work in consulting is executing the plan. And the successful consulting companies are the ones that can execute successfully.
Patrick: So that’s where the hard work comes in. And that’s where your reputation is really based off of because everybody’s got an opinion. And they all sound pretty good because you can read up, you can go to conferences, you can see what people are talking about and what resonates in conversations, but actually getting the work done, and making sure that it works in the environment that you’re working in for that particular client is the finest part of making things successful. So that’s really good. So let’s dig in a little bit from high level into … So tell us what you guys did while you were at Oshkosh.
Melissa: Yeah, one of the big things that we took part in was delta loading, which was migrating a lot of the data from the old system to the new system. So we worked a lot on that. And I think we were able to kind of have a significant impact, we got them caught up, which is somewhere that they haven’t been in months. So being able to come in as interns and being able to actually help them out in that way, was pretty rewarding.
Patrick: We also worked on renaming, which was basically when they did the big bulk migration, a lot of stuff got moved correctly, but then the names were more necessarily what they needed to be. And they didn’t describe the data that was being held in Windchill correctly. And so it was kind of our job to take these big logs of things and just go in and make it so that they could actually get out that data when they need to use it.
Patrick: And so, the delta loading and the renaming are good. You guys also had some special projects in addition to those two areas, what where those respectively.
Melissa: Yeah, so mine was on technical data package configuration. And so that was kind of looking into how we can use packages to collect the information that Oshkosh needs to send out to their suppliers. Because right now, the way that they do that is tedious and time consuming. So I was doing some research through PTC to see if this was a viable option for them that could speed up the process and make, their life easier. So that was something that I got to look into and kind of learn more about and maybe that’s something that they continue to pursue in the future.
Griffin: My project was more along the lines of Windchill configuration, and actually configuration of kind of the CAD software that they were using. And so the actual what I was doing was bomb occurrence management. And so the basic idea is that when a part shows up multiple times within a bomb, usually it just says there’s four wheels, and it says four and then says each for the units and basically, that’s all you get. But down the line, if you’re working in a repair shop, and you need to fix this specific model of car with these features, when you pull that up, you don’t have all the necessary information from just the building materials to understand what needs to be done to fix that specific like the back right tire, because the bolts on that could be tightened differently than the front right tire.
Griffin: And so the idea was that you could associate each occurrence so each of those four wheels with just a serial number that when you then plug that in, you could get the important information about it. And that would allow you to facilitate repairs, it would allow you to differentiate that manufacturing time, and it would just allow for a lot of the stratification and letting more information run downstream and kind of previously get sent down.
Patrick: I mean, those are really big topics that many clients struggle with. There’s few that have that all figured out. From the standpoint, like the process happens at anywhere, everybody’s doing PLM in some form or fashion. It’s just how well are you leveraging technology to be efficient. And those are huge topics that are applicable with every single company that’s out there. And so how the variation is how well and how efficient people are doing it. So those are some pretty cool projects and topics that a lot of clients struggle with, quite frankly. So one of the things that we talked about in the previous one, were categories of what, I guess how to judge, a consultant. And so to remind you, the three areas were consulting, which are like the soft skills, right, being able to listen and really interpret what somebody’s saying in an accurate way that represents reality.
Patrick: And then the soft skills just in general related to working with people. And then there was the technology aspect, right? Where you’re dealing with the technology, understanding the technology that there’s more than one way to do something. And then there’s the analytical part where you come into a problem. And you have to form some way of processing the information, coming up with recommendations on how to handle it, and then iterate through possible solutions that may work and understand which ones don’t work, which is important, and sometimes more important than what does work, because what does work may not be the best way to make it work. So going through that iteration helps you learn things to optimize the performance and how to configure the system. So again, the three areas consulting, technology, analytical. And so we’ll handle each one separately. So when we think about the high level journey that you guys went through, and roll up your sleeves works that you did with the delta loading and renaming and the project work that you did.
Patrick: So let’s see if we can kind of think about those mesh together. Tell me what you take away from the experience from a consulting perspective, the soft skills side of that.
Melissa: Definitely, I think the project was one that I got a lot of the soft skills from, because I was able to conduct a quiet interview for the first time ever. So that was something that I hadn’t experienced with before this summer. And so being able to kind of ask questions and have to kind of adjust on the spot to how they’re reacting in an interview and what kind of information they have for me, was something that was new and that I am continuing to learn about, but this was my first exposure to that. So I think that was kind of a real life exposure to consulting that I wouldn’t have had in my regular schooling.
Patrick: Were you nervous going into it?
Melissa: Definitely, I tried to prepare some questions going into it. And I had an idea of what I wanted to gain out of it. But then again I got to pick up my feet a little bit because maybe the person that I was talking to from Oshkosh had more expertise in one area that I wasn’t anticipating. So kind of being able to shift my questions, and really make the most of what they know that can benefit me was something that I had to kind of learn how to do.
Patrick: So a couple of things that stick out. One, you said, you had prepared questions and you thought about the objective that you wanted to achieve from having those discussions, which are key in going into things and sometimes there’s this expectation that as a consultant, you’re coming in as a perceived expert. And so you need to have all the answers. And truth of matter is, you’re not an expert in their world and so there’s a gap there and saying, I don’t know, I’m going to figure it out or digging into the details and going downstream and upstream. Sometimes there’s gaps in communication even internally at that organization. So one being prepared and having an objective and when you walk away, if you didn’t meet that objective, there’s more work to do, and maybe more people to talk to, to dig in further in the details. So if you were to give advice to somebody from a consulting perspective and client interviews, specifically, knowing that you are nervous, and I suspect with my practice, you’d be less nervous. What advice would you give to somebody?
Melissa: Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. So if your initial questions, if they answer them but then leads to more confusion, don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper and be like, “Hey, there’s still more I want to know, this doesn’t perfectly make sense to me yet.” Don’t be afraid to ask more questions because it’s worth in the long run, than just pretending you understand it and then finding out that you’re kind of stuck.
Patrick: That’s awesome. That’s a sign of a mature consultant, quite frankly, is digging in to clarify things. That’s a great lesson. All right, Griffin.
Griffin: So I’m actually had to come with this from a different angle. I think the point where my soft skills were kind of most tested and developed, were kind of at the beginning of the internship when I was first realizing that it wasn’t only just going to be looking at problems that the client was having and trying to work through the problems in an efficient manner. It was also going to be all that hard work that you have to put in. And so quite frankly, I was a little bit dissatisfied at first because my expectation was going in, I thought it’d be a lot of cerebral sitting around staring at the ceiling and brainstorming type stuff. And then as I got to working I realized that it was just a lot of rolling up the sleeves and putting in the time. And so, as I was coming to that realization, I figured that I should communicate that to somebody, and there are a lot of different routes I could have taken with it. I could have talked to the people at Oshkosh, I could talk to the upper people at ArcherGrey.
Griffin: And then there’s just a method of communication, I could have sent an email to either those people, I could have written out my 95 theses like Martin Luther. What Melissa and I eventually ended up doing, was we just send a quick email to Patrick and Lewis wanting to talk about how we were feeling about it so far, and see if there was some way that we could get both sides of the experience along with what I personally was feeling was just sort of the lower level work so far. And I think that was the best route because emails, and this can be my advice. If you just write up a long email while you’re angry, or not angry, but dissatisfied about something and you send it out, you can’t really take that back. When you get into a phone call with somebody you have to look at it from their point of view and understand that this is what the situation is and that they’re doing their best and then you’re also doing your best.
Griffin: And then also an important thing is take it to the people that can help make a change rather than just airing your dirty laundry with the client. Because if I had say gone to Oshkosh and email [inaudible 00:15:58] long list of things, not that it was something I was considering. But all that really would have done was it would have made the client look at ArcherGrey as a less professional because they’re bringing in interns and all the interns are doing is complaining about what is essentially busy work or intern work, but still very, very important work. And it would have damaged the relationships between the client and ArcherGrey between me and ArcherGrey as the intern and me as the client, and it wouldn’t really have been productive for anybody. Because there’s nothing that the client could do to remedy the situation between any of us. Not that they should, because it’s ultimately up to us as consultants to work on those relationships and make sure that what we’re doing is the most valuable work.
Patrick: Yeah, I mean, that’s a great insight as well. I mean, when you look at that high level category of consulting and the soft skills, there’s client facing aspect of that and then there’s internal aspect of that. And not that you’re keeping things from the client, but depending on your level of exposure, it changes your perception of reality, right? What’s true in the mind is true. So yeah, that was a great thing that you guys did. After the first three or four weeks of the internship, you came to Lewis and I, and provided that feedback, which forced us to think about things that you were doing and additional items that you could help with because, as you said, the client was busy doing different things.
Patrick: And we had the ability to create these side projects, which you guys briefed us up. So it’s a great insight and very important for consultants to know that difference because ultimately, that helps keep the client focused on what they need to and allows the consulting company to work as a team collaboratively internally to make sure everybody’s having the best experience and continuing to grow and learn. All right so we covered the consulting side now let’s deal with the technology side of consulting, right? So Windchill and euphoria and all the other things that you were exposed to in a Creo and CATIA. Tell us a little bit about the lessons learned or what you took away from the technology side of it.
Melissa: Yeah, so I never even heard of Windchill before the summers, are coming into it took me a little bit to kind of get used to it. So with things like the delta loading and parts renaming, the first few weeks are kind of I hope I’m doing this right, I’m not really sure exactly why I am doing but then by a couple weeks in, I was like, okay this is starting to make sense. Now I understand not only like what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, but also the purpose of it and seeing that this is happening with the overall structure of the organization of their company and how they’re able to go in and easily find and utilize these parts and pieces of all these the trucks that they’re making and how it all kind of fits together. So being able to work with Windchill and help them get back up and running, more so with delta loading and stuff was I felt like I learned a lot about that technology and PLM in general.
Melissa: And yeah I don’t know going more so with PTC and kind of what else they have to offer, I looked into a little bit into [inaudible 00:19:49] IOT and I kind a see a future with that and how that can benefit Oshkosh and other companies because it helps with keeping track of all these moving parts. So I think that is definitely the future.
Patrick: So being exposed to new technology for the first time, tell me how you got over that and began to get familiar to it, where you were competent and being able to fulfill your responsibilities for the summer.
Melissa: Yeah. We started off with just a set of instructions on how to do some of these things. Well, for delta loading, we were giving the instructions, for parts renaming actually we were given the task of actually creating the instructions ourselves based on some of the an overview of how it worked but then we actually put together our process document. But with delta loading that was something we were given and we kind of had to work through that. There were some things that were a little confusing about it at first, so asking more questions. There’s a few people that we’ve been working on delta loading for a while. So being able to always have them ready to help us, they’re just a Skype message away, or sometimes they’re even just in Oshkosh cubicle where kind of be able to lean over and having them walk us through it a little bit. But I think it just kind of took a lot practice.
Melissa: The more you work with it, the more familiar you get with it and the more it makes sense. So just kind of, time really helped me learn with that and kind of getting hands on working with it was more than just … I could read about it all day long on PTC website, but until I actually get to kind of get my hands dirty and work with it myself, that’s where it begins to make sense.
Patrick: Yeah, great. Okay, Griffin.
Griffin: So I think that our experience learning about … I’m going to talk about Windchill specifically because I have the most familiarity with that, although we could talk about euphoria also, because I’ve been doing research into that for a presentation I’ll be giving at the end of this week. I think the process whereby we learn Windchill was interesting because it was mostly dictated by necessity. So the first week or so of the training week, basically, we didn’t have access to Windchill because we didn’t have our Oshkosh laptops, we didn’t have the permissions again. So what we learned essentially was, what is Windchill? What does it do? Why is it useful, but we didn’t actually get to play around with it and see it. And so we learned kind of from a higher level, what the concepts were that it’s looking to represent, and what it’s looking to do for clients.
Griffin: And so from there, we moved to Oshkosh where we started to learn what we were going to do with it, and that was still because up until we probably didn’t actually see the login screen for Windchill until the third week. And that was when everything was all set up and we were able to get into the system. And so the process was step one, we learned what is it step two, what are we doing with it, how are we going to be using it to solve business problems? And then step three, was more of a how does it work. And so the interesting thing is that those are all you start at the absolute highest level, and you move down and down and down. And it was an interesting approach to looking at learning a technology because a lot of times in classes, it’s almost the other way around, where they hand you a technology and you can play around with it all you want. But it’s really, really tough to get meaningful results out of it because you don’t know what it does, you don’t know what it’s supposed to do.
Griffin: You can look up, you know, example projects on Google. But barring somebody who’s really, really dedicated to learning either this one specific thing that you can do, or this one specific software, what you’re probably going to do is it’s just going to sit on your computer and you’re taught something about it. And so, looking at it from the opposite way where we started with what are the capabilities and what was it built for and then moving down from there made it more of a almost like a cinematic build up, where when we actually, the pearly gates open and we were able to enter the promised land. We could see everything that it could do and it was kind of mind blowing, because there are thousands and thousands of things that you can do using this technology and the overwhelming complexity of what Windchill is and what it can do.
Griffin: We were able to see that from a high level, and then even through the lens of what we’re going to be dealing with it and even just the complexity with how to do that made it so that we were really fully capable of understanding what this technology was and what it can do. And I think that even more than just learning Windchill we learned that looking at a technology from a higher level standpoint and then boiling it down, starting with the ideas and then going down to the actual work, can teach you technology a lot better, because then you can understand what you want to do with it and how you can start to configure it to do what you want, rather than, what is this? What does it do? What do we want to do? And then what are the ultimate huge problems that this thing that we are learning is trying to solve.
Patrick: Yeah, that’s a good insight as well. I mean, the things that I take away from what you both just said is this top down approach of understanding the breath and then slowly peeling the onion back, and nothing’s going to make you learn better than rolling up your sleeves getting into the system and taking the time. I mean, the magical 10,000 hours that everybody talks about, about becoming an expert, right? In anything, the same is true as PLM as it’s so vast, it’s so large, and especially Windchill has been around for a long time continues to add onto module. So there are consultants that have been working with it for 10 years that have specialized in a couple of areas. But there’s a large majority of functionality that they might have been exposed to, but they are not experts in so they can work with it. They understand how the information passes, but they have a lot of learning to do in order to become an expert in those particular areas.
Patrick: So that’s great. So because what I take away, the analytical was the last portion of the consulting technology and analytical and I think what you guys kind of described blends in some of the analytical skill sets. I’m sure you guys would have some different answers that would be applicable to that. But so let’s move on from that one and kind of get to this top view again, of overall knowing your expectations coming in now having some exposure to it for a bit over two months. What do you think now makes a good consultant?
Melissa: I think someone who is able to listen and take what they’re hearing and kind of analyze it and do something with it, it’s not just something that they’re kind of nodding along to and doing whatever. It’s really listening to the clients problems and trying to find the best solution and sometimes the best solution is a compromise. Sometimes you have to compromise based on what the clients want you to compromise, based on some other restrictions, whatever it might be, whether it’s time or effort or … Sometimes there’s going to be all these different factors and so finding the best solution that fits that situation. So for some of what we had to do over the summer, it was a lot of communication and figuring out what is most important. So I guess one example would be the delta loading versus parts renaming. We couldn’t do all or both of them.
Melissa: We had to kind of sacrifice one to spend more time on the other. So we had to listen to what the client wanted of what they thought was more important and where they wanted us to be spending our time, and because that is what, they wanted, I guess. Yes, so just kind of listening to the client.
Patrick: Yeah, I mean, balancing priorities is always a huge aspect of getting things done. I mean, if you want something done, something else is going to suffer from it. So again, being able to communicate that so people have awareness of what they’re sacrificing when they’re focusing on something else, making sure that everybody’s aligned on what you’re going to gain through the process, that’s super important. So yeah, being able to listen, analyze and get things done, constantly compromise and balance your priorities, those are all ingredients of making a good consultant. So, thanks.
Griffin: So what I would say is, and I might have said this in our first podcast is that what a consultant really needs, is they need to be a jack of all trades and definitely a master of some. And this ties into kind of what I was talking about with the dual mindset where you need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and also able and eager about working on that higher level and thinking while you’re doing that lower level work. I think that this duality was really driven home especially during our internship because we were getting those high level projects. And even while we were doing the higher level projects, we would think about them while we were working on the delta loading and the parts renaming, which was more or less just the same thing over and over. But while we were doing that, it was still important work. We were thinking about how to conceptualize the problem we’re given, ways that we might think about performing a solution to those problems. And generally speaking, what a consultant needs is to be able to do both of those thing well.
Griffin: They need to be able to do any sort of work that the client throws at them, that might not not necessarily be super cerebral and super problem solving, which is sort of getting that dirty work done. But then they also simultaneously have to be thinking about the process that they’re going through, whether that can be refined, and they need to be thinking about other ways that they can create new processes that can help the client ultimately do their work more easily.
Patrick: Yeah, I mean, thinking about your thinking is super important. I mean, it’s not just taking an assignment and getting the assignment done. It’s thinking about what you’re doing, what it’s going to change as a result of what you’re doing, and who does it affect and why. I mean, those are all really important things to understand because you’re actually thinking about the result of your work, not just getting the assignment done, which makes all the difference in the world. You can have transformational moments at any given time on any given project with that mindset. So those are certain, I agree with all of those of what makes a good consultant. So I’m glad that you guys were able to take that away from you guys’ experience. So final question here, are you glad that you … maybe final two questions? Are you glad that you decided to accept the internship with ArcherGrey?
Griffin: Yeah, I definitely learned a lot over the course of the summer and it helped me grow as someone who’s going to be in the work force in two years and just kind of as a person.
Patrick: And would you recommend it?
Melissa: I think so, yeah.
Griffin: I think I would recommend it to people who are interested in consulting. I think that anybody that already kind of knows that they don’t want to be someone who travels, someone who wants to operate on both of those levels, because some people really do just want to work on a super, super high level or they want to work on a super, super low level. Like I said, a consultant needs to operate on both, and I think that this internship really showed the strengths and also the weaknesses of what it’s like to operate in that fashion.
Melissa: Yeah i would agree with that, and I think kind of what Griffin said about kind of coming into it, wanting to try out consulting, I think that’s how I came into it. Consulting was something I always had heard about, but something that I didn’t really understand firsthand. So I think this is definitely the way to kind of go about testing that out.
Patrick: Yeah. Well, great. From my perspective it’s been awesome working with you guys. Thank you for one, accepting the offer and two, working with us throughout the summer because it’s been a great experience. I’ve really enjoyed watching you guys engage with the client and engage with us internally and have loved having you guys be part of the team. So thanks.
Melissa: Thank you.
Griffin: It’s been a pleasure.
Patrick: All right. Well, that’s the end of the PLM Quick 30 thanks for listening and hope everybody enjoys the rest of their summer.