Operational Excellence Manager

As an Operational Excellence Manager, you will be responsible for improving the operational efficiency, utilisation, and performance of the distillery. You will lead and execute lean transformational projects using lean and operational tools such as: 5S, Value Stream Mapping, SMED, TPM, Kaizen, set-up time reduction, short interval management and change management. The role involves working closely with cross-functional teams to develop and implement strategies that drive continuous improvement in production, quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

Role Description

The role involves analysing production, wastage, and other performance data streams to prioritise, plan and action process improvement projects and strategies to reach agreed operational efficiency and improvement targets and, ultimately, business profitability.

Main duties and responsibilities

As an Operational Excellence Manager, you will play a crucial role in ensuring the efficient and effective management of all operational activities within a distillery. This involves developing and implementing strategies that optimize production processes, reduce waste, and improve product quality, while ensuring compliance with safety and quality standards and managing operational budgets. The role requires strong analytical and problem-solving skills, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to work collaboratively with cross-functional teams.

Key responsibilities of an Operational Excellence Manager include:

  • Develop and implement operational transformation plans and site performance improvement plan (PIP) strategies that optimise production processes, reduce waste, and improve product quality.
  • Develop, shape, and deploy standard processes, tools, techniques, and behaviours to form a standard operating system that defines the site’s ways of working and supports the manufacture of products and value creation for the company and its customers.
  • Overseeing the delivery of business process management capability, including process ownership, definition, governance, standardisation, compliance, measurement, and improvement.
  • Develop and implement a standard management control & reporting structure (MCRS) with balance score card metrics and systematic KPIs that measure operational efficiency outputs and performance, across all functions and areas. This involves working closely with cross-functional teams to identify key performance indicators and dashboards that track performance against targets.
  • Managing operational budgets by analysing and identifying areas of cost savings whilst maintaining quality and safety standards.
  • Lead the assessment of options and solutions, including full capital plans, that eliminate waste and deliver new capacity / capability in line with the manufacturing strategy and business growth plans.
  • Working closely with cross-functional teams to lead process improvement initiatives such as structured problem-solving events and workshops, including team Kaizen events. Execute improvement activities like 5S, Value Stream Mapping events and Kaizen workshops.
  • Ensuring compliance with quality standards by conducting and monitoring quality metrics to identify quality issues, develop and implement quality control procedures and develop corrective action plans.
  • Ensuring compliance with safety regulations by developing and implementing safety procedures, conducting safety audits, and monitoring safety metrics. This involves working closely with production teams to identify safety hazards and develop corrective action plans.
  • Developing strength in a Continuous Improvement culture throughout the business including training, coaching and delivery of CI initiatives. Ensuring mechanisms are in place to communicate and drive employee involvement within continuous improvement projects and continually review their effectiveness and explore new options which link to & support the site engagement plans.
  • Providing line management and training to operational excellence teams to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their roles effectively. This involves developing training materials, conducting training sessions, and providing ongoing support to production teams.
  • Proactive and effective communication and employee engagement related to improvement initiatives.

Skills and experience

To be successful as an Operational Excellence Manager in the Scotch whisky industry you will need to have a combination of technical and leadership skills, with a strong focus on process improvement, quality management, and operational efficiency. In addition, the following skills and experience are typically required:

  • A minimum 3 to 5 years’ experience in process improvement, quality management, and/or operations management within the food and drink industry, of which at least 1-2 years are in operational excellence, lean six sigma or a management role.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills, with the ability to analyse complex data and identify areas for improvement.
  • Proven experience in lean and transformation processes using tools and methodologies such as 5S, VSM, Lean Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis, Statistical Process Control and in running Kaizen workshops.
  • Strong project management skills, to manage the process of providing excellent customer service, exceptional quality of service and turnaround, and continuous improvement.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to work effectively with cross-functional teams and stakeholders; ability to communicate complex concepts and ideas clearly and concisely and build trust and credibility with team members and stakeholders.
  • Strong leadership and influencing skills, with the ability to lead and motivate teams to achieve goals and objectives.
  • Knowledge of safety and quality standards and regulations, with the ability to develop and implement procedures to ensure compliance.
  • Experienced at managing budgets and optimising costs while maintaining quality and safety standards.
  • A process and results-driven problem solver with a continuous improvement mindset and the ability to lead and inspire teams to identify opportunities for improvement and to implement organisational culture, skills, and routines required to support Operational Excellence.
  • Broad experience with use of statistics (regression, range, mean, standard deviation) and KPIs related to business improvement metrics. Including the ability to calculate KPIs such as On Time Delivery, Lead Time, First Time Right, and Incident Rate. An expertise in Tableau would be an advantage.

Qualifications Required

  • Bachelor's degree in engineering, operations management, or a related field.
  • Master’s degree considered a plus, but not essential.
  • Minimum Foundation level in lean or equivalent and Kaizan or Six Sigma (ideally Green belt).
  • Experience in process improvement, quality management, and/or operations management.
  • Knowledge of safety and quality standards and regulations.
  • Strong track record and experience in managing large scale, complex transformation programmes through a range of delivery modes.
Did you know?
  1. The role of Operations Excellence Manager is critical to ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of production processes within a distillery. Operational excellence managers are responsible for driving continuous improvement in production processes and by identifying areas of improvement and implementing strategies to optimise processes, reduce waste, and enhance quality.
  2. Operational excellence managers must have a strong understanding of process improvement methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma and Statistical Process Control, as well as excellent communication and leadership skills to work effectively with cross-functional teams.
  3. The role is important for maintaining compliance with safety and quality standards. Operational excellence managers must develop and implement procedures to ensure compliance with safety and quality regulations, conduct audits, and monitor metrics to identify areas for improvement.
  4. Operational excellence managers must manage operational budgets and identify opportunities to reduce costs while maintaining quality and safety standards.

If you are interested in pursuing a career as an Operational Excellence Manager, here are some resources that may be helpful:

  1. Joining industry associations such as the Scotch Whisky Association and the Institute of Brewing and Distilling can be a great way to stay up-to-date with industry news, network with professionals, and access training and development opportunities.
  2. There are several online courses available that cover topics related to process improvement, quality management, and Lean Six Sigma. Sites such as Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer courses on these topics, which can help you develop the technical skills required for the role.
  3. Many organisations offer professional development programmes, including training and mentoring opportunities, that can help you build the skills required for the role of Operational Excellence Manager. Check with your current employer or search online for programs that may be available to you.
  4. Attending conferences and events related to the Scotch whisky industry can be a great way to stay up-to-date with industry trends and network with professionals. Look for events such as the Scotch Whisky Experience, Whisky Live, and the International Whisky Festival.
  5. Finally, job boards such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor can be a great way to search for job opportunities in the Scotch whisky industry. Set up job alerts to receive notifications for new job postings that match your skills and experience.
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The Scotch Whisky Association

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