Six Sigma, one of the hottest topics in today’s manufacturing circlesis a statistical concept that characterizes nearly zero defects in any process. But its successful implementation involves a whole new set of management practices. Six Sigma for Managers will help managers better understand this concept and how to facilitate the learning, cooperation, skills improvement, and commitment required to make Six Sigma processes a reality in any organization. (Brue, G., 2002) You may read our “What is Six Sigma?” post by clicking here.
The demand for people with Six Sigma expertise is constantly increasing. More and more organizations are discovering the many ways that the Six Sigma methodology can help them grow and improve. As Six Sigma spreads to many different industries beyond its genesis in manufacturing, you can now find many service and government organizations advertising for Six Sigma help. Plus, it is no longer the largest corporations looking for Six Sigma help. Smaller companies also are taking on Six Sigma projects and hiring people as consultants or permanent staff. The need for full-time Six Sigma professionals will only increase.
There are many Six Sigma jobs in many industries at junior and senior levels. The positions have descriptions and requirements unique to that organization and its requirements. It is true that many Six Sigma positions are filled internally as organizations train their own people already familiar with the organization’s culture in Six Sigma skills. However, organizations frequently reach outside to add personnel with Six Sigma expertise to lead Six Sigma projects or even the full-scale implementation of Six Sigma throughout the organization. These positions are usually dedicated full-time to Six Sigma projects.
Six Sigma jobs are advertised under many titles, not always as obvious as “Six Sigma Black Belt,” “Six Sigma Consultant,” or “Six Sigma Analyst.” Other possible titles include things like “Functional Project Lead” “Six Sigma Program Manager,” “Lead Analyst/Project Manager,” “Director of Operational Excellence,” “Business Process Manager,” or “Senior Projects Manager.” Whatever the exact title, the organization is looking for someone with the skills of a Six Sigma Black Belt. A Black Belt is an individual trained in the Six Sigma methodology and experienced leading cross-functional process improvement teams. They will lead individual Six Sigma projects.
Very senior Six Sigma positions are sometimes advertised. These are Master Black Belts, individuals trained in the Six Sigma methodology who acts as the organization-wide Six Sigma program manager. They will lead Six Sigma implementation at the organization and will oversee Black Belts and process improvement projects and provides guidance to Black Belts as required. Master Black Belt positions understandably demand the highest level of Six Sigma experience and qualifications.
To be considered for a Six Sigma job, you need a combination of relevant academic and work experience. The first and foremost qualification is to be trained in Six Sigma, ideally as a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. This means formal training from qualified Six Sigma consultants who have extensive experience in training and implementation of Six Sigma. Specific training in Six Sigma DMAIC and/or DFSS methodology is often requested. The best teacher is, of course, experience and organizations will strongly prefer, if not insist, on people who have completed at least one Six Sigma project.
In addition to possessing Six Sigma training and project experience, organizations will ask that you have experience working in the industry of the organization’s business. So if the company is a manufacturer, they will usually want you to have direct experience in a manufacturing environment. Organizations will ask that you have a certain minimum period of experience (often five years) in that particular industry.
Management experience is a huge plus and will almost certainly be a requirement for a Six Sigma project team leader. Having on your resume proven project management success within a structured environment and being able to demonstrate good managerial skills will take you a long way. That’s because leading and facilitating Black Belts, Green Belts, and business teams through a Six Sigma project is often the role organizations are seeking to fill.
There are also essential personal skills. You need to be able to demonstrate a good understanding of processes and quality methodologies and a willingness to take an initiative and lead change. Another crucial skill is the ability to link strategy to execution. The aptitude to look beyond the surface and be creative to think conceptually about strategic business issues and develop creative but practical solutions is key.
Brue, G. (2002). Six SIGMA for Managers.