Continuous Improvement Specialist

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Date: Sep 22, 2022

Location: Houston, TX, US

Company: AkzoNobel

We’ve been pioneering a world of possibilities to bring surfaces to life for well over 200 years. As experts in making coatings, there’s a good chance you’re only ever a few meters away from one of our products. Our world class portfolio of brands – including Dulux, International, Sikkens and Interpon – is trusted by customers around the globe. We’re active in more than 150 countries and have set our sights on becoming the global industry leader. It’s what you’d expect from the most sustainable paints company, which has been inventing the future for more than two centuries.

Job Purpose

The Continuous Improvement Specialist II role is responsible for championing, developing, and sustaining a culture of continuous improvement (CI) and knowledge about related methodologies/ activities (Lean, Six Sigma, ALPS) across all areas of the site with a strong focus on manufacturing and operations. The end-purpose is to improve the real result key performance indicators (Safety, OTIF, cost, material efficiency, quality, and inventories) of the site. The CI specialist is actively involved in setting up and establishing a support structure to develop CI capabilities and mindset with guidance from central ISC - thus acting as an agent for culture change. This role personifies the Lean Six Sigma (L6S) capabilities and way of solving problems, making decisions and setting standards.

Key Responsibilities

Build Organizational Capabilities:

  • Develop and expand local capabilities in applying continuous improvement tools and methods (Lean, Six Sigma) and promote a structured problem-solving approach. Inject passion for this activity by providing a vision and direction for the future development and performance of the site.
  • Deploy and sustain the ALPS manufacturing program including a coaching support structure to drive CI initiatives and ensure sustainability of improvements 
  • Coach Advanced and Lead Practitioners and local staff/MT on site and give reinforcement training on selected topics

Site Performance:

  • Support and challenge the workforce and local MT in direction setting, prioritization (timing, resources, and sequence of actions) and implementation of improvement activities to best achieve the targets for the key performance indicators of the yearly site improvement plan. This includes the organizational and strategic deployment throughout the site.
  • Review the ALPS operating framework (goals & targets, KPIs, operating processes, people) to ensure compliance with corporate and BA requirements and highlight to the site management team areas of concern to agree corrective actions.

Improvement Portfolio Management:

  • Identify, validate, initiate and drive new improvement opportunities and promote the passion for excellence and delivering on commitments values
  • Manage the improvement project funnel including scoping, project assignment, resource planning, tracking of progress and benefits and controlling sustainability of outcomes
  • Run own improvement projects delivering value to the organization

ALPS Deployment:

  • Lead/ support the local ALPS implementation and build-up of required capabilities and ensure ALPS full and successful implementation and practical application on a daily basis
  • Network within the AkzoNobel CI community and share insights, problems and opportunities to promote improved performance and problem-solving across the company as well as encourage others to do the same

Level of Autonomy

The role works under the direction of the CI Manager and acts effectively and autonomously to support the operational performance in terms of quality, cost, delivery, HSE and people development.  It analyzes and interprets data and information to recommend solutions.

Job Requirements

  • 5+ years of relevant work experience (operations, production, maintenance, logistics, (process) engineering, continuous improvement, etc.) 
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred (related to technical, business, or engineering)   
  • Experience in continuous improvement methodologies such as Lean, Six Sigma, TPM (Brown Belt)
  • Confident and experienced in coaching others
  • Fluent in English, both verbal and written
  • Prior line management or team leader experience; knows how to use the skills and knowledge of the team to design and implement solutions
  • Experience with practical implementation of change programs a plus
  • Solid project and stakeholder management experience 
  • Extensive experience in coaching and engaging others; able to impart knowledge to others 
  • Able to multi-task in high-pressure environments 
  • Excellent communication, presentation and conflict resolution skills on all organizational levels; ability to gain respect and trust through situational leadership and integrity and inspire others to follow and participate in the change process
  • Strong analysis and problem-solving skills, able to identify and structure issues, run accurate (also statistical) analyses and synthesize recommendations
  • Good team player, knows how to build his/her own network
  • Strong computer skills (PowerPoint, Excel, Word, SharePoint, MiniTab); able to prepare various formats of documentation associated with CI programs
  • Must be willing to train as an AkzoNobel lean six sigma black belt (where necessary)
  • Risk-friendly and self-directed, able to take a decision quickly within uncertainty 
  • Comfortable in quickly changing environments with steep learning curve
  • Must be an agent of change
  • May require some travel
  • Passionate about change and striving for exceptional performance 
  • Competent leader
  • High self-confidence and ability to deal with resistance
  • Active listener 
  • Highly organized and can keep the “big picture” in mind
  • Reliable and Customer focused


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AkzoNobel is an equal opportunity employer. In accordance with applicable laws, we prohibit discrimination against any applicant or employee based on any legally-recognized basis, including, but not limited to: race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, lactation, childbirth or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin or ancestry, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, genetic information (including testing and characteristics), veteran status, uniformed servicemember status or any other status protected by federal, state or local law.

Requisition ID: 25508 


Nearest Major Market: Houston