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Meet A Young Leader: May 2009

Look at the big picture.

Matt Olsen
As an operations manager, my job essentially amounts to holding everything together. I have to hire the proper people, get them the right training and teach them what our company is about. I let them make the daily decisions and help them understand that mistakes are fixable.

I usually start my day by checking my messages to make sure there are no huge fires that need to be attended to. After that point, it’s mostly a matter of keeping track of what other people are doing. I do a lot of metrics and try to look at the company’s processes and procedures from a broader perspective. If we’re having an office meeting or departmental meetings, I make sure we’re prepared, and that they get done quickly so people can get back to work. It’s important to make sure everybody’s kept in the loop. Pengate Handling Systems’ headquarters—and my direct supervisor—are located in York, Pennsylvania, whereas I’m in Albany, New York. If I want to have a face-to-face meeting with my boss, I have to set up an appointment, and frequently that involves an overnight trip. We’re left to our own devices in many ways, and we’ve been successful, so my boss is very comfortable with us.

The biggest adjustment for me has been learning to step back. I’ve had to force myself to look at the big picture, not the daily minutiae. There will always be some issue—a problem with a van or a part that didn’t ship out. As an operations manager, I have to trust the people on staff to be able to handle day-to-day issues. It’s more important for me to focus on making sure our company is on the right track. By allowing my people to do their jobs and excel in them, we’ve become much more successful in serving customers.  

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Matt Olsen Meet the Author
Matt Olsen is an operations manager for Pengate Handling Systems, located in York, PA, and on the Web at www.pengate.com.

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