My career at Western Union started back in 2014. As a 20-year-old that just finalized an English course, you are simply happy that you have a job opportunity. Back then, I did not know that I was going to work at such an amazing company with amazing leaders. My journey started in the Global Compliance operations world, as a Global Sanctions and Interdictions specialist (GSI), I was in charge of analyzing our customer’s transactions against different government and entities sanctions lists.
During that time, I knew nothing about the LEAN principles, but I had this mentality of always looking for ways to be more productive and efficient. In a short period of time, I became a top performer in my department and started to work on different projects. After several projects that allowed me to improve my skills, I was promoted to Team leader. As a Team leader, I was looking for opportunities to improve my team’s performance and to develop my team members. Once again, I knew nothing about LEAN but I was always looking for ways to have a more productive and efficient team. I started by sending everyone’s KPI’s on a daily basis even though we were meeting on a bi-weekly basis. I also started to have the bottom performers sit with the top performers so they could take their best practices and improve upon their performance. Sometimes, I put my headset on and took the calls and worked transactions in their stations for one hour for them to take these good practices from me. We had some improvement but also we continued to have variation in our performance.
When I was selected to be part of the Cross Functional Team, which was one of our first LEAN deployments, I wanted to be part of the cultural change that the WU Way represented. I was expecting to know more about other departments from the company, and it turned out to be an amazing experience.
During the Cross Functional initiative, we put the customer at the center. We stopped working in silos and started to see what working from a value stream perspective could look like.
We were introduced to standard work, WILO’s (Week in the Life of), huddles, process confirmation, Gemba walks and Problem Solving Sessions (PSS). I felt overwhelmed by all the things that I needed to do and was not really used to doing, but with time and coaching I started to see the value from each of these tools.
At some point, we stopped being a team and became a family. We supported and learned from each other. A fundamental element for this was Nicole Zimmermann’s leadership. She was always open to everyone; she listened to each person and empowered everyone to speak their mind, to bring ideas and to be the best person that we could be. She led by example and believed in us.
When we finalized the LEAN deployment, I remember that she talked to my director at the time about possibly including me in another lean deployment for the WU Way. This is what I really liked about her, she gave everyone an opportunity without looking at your gender, race or age.
Since then, I have had the privilege to work for the WU Way team. I have focused on developing myself in order to develop others and to change the way we work and lead. I have had the opportunity to facilitate different kaizen events and PSS that have added great value to our company. I was part of the WU Way Green Belt certification program; I even switched my university career. I have changed the way I work, the way I lead and the way think. Nowadays, I do not see myself working without a huddle or standard work. I see myself working on this cultural change for many years to come but will always remember that everything started with the Cross Functional team that was willing to believe in you.