Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Student Spotlight: Anne Engler
October 20, 2021
by Cj Pettus
Current Lean Six Sigma Black Belt student Anne Engler shares her experience.
After hearing about the University of Michigan Lean Six Sigma program from several past participants, Continuous Improvement Specialist Anne Engler decided to try the program herself. Anne is currently a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt student, and she shared some of her thoughts about participating in the blended course with us.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO EARN YOUR LEAN SIX SIGMA BLACK BELT FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN?
Anne: I was recommended to the course by one of the instructors, Nicole Friedberg. She worked with me previously at my company. She had gone through the Master Black Belt training there, and she had good things to say about it. Also, my older sister did her Green Belt through the same program. So, I had been hearing about it in different ways.
I actually tried to work through Black Belt with a different (non-U-M) online program, and it was pretty terrible. There was a robotic voice just speaking out slides to you—it wasn’t a person. I tried so many times to get through that material, and it wasn’t really helping me. I really felt like I needed to have a real professor and people I could go ask questions to. And, of course, I’m a Michigan alumni. I went there for undergrad, so I have a lot of good things in my mind about Michigan from a reputational perspective. Knowing that it was a Michigan program kind of led me toward that direction.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO EARN YOUR CERTIFICATION NOW WHEN IT IS OFFERED IN THE BLENDED FORMAT?
Anne: It just was the right time for me to be in this program. I’m in a newer role in my company—I had just gotten into my department at the end of 2020. It was something that I talked to my leadership about really wanting, and they approved it. It has actually been convenient for me—not having to travel to Ann Arbor. I have a three year old, and balancing childcare and everything else and traveling onsite to Ann Arbor would have been really tough.
I was looking for that instructor perspective. I was looking for live sessions, so I was really happy to see that there was an option that blended both worlds. I was pretty averse to fully online after my experience with the other program, but I probably would have been fine with the [Nexus] fully online version, knowing you record the lectures. I think I would have been okay.
WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE WITH THE BLENDED FORMAT? DOES THE COURSE WORK WELL WITH THE MIXTURE OF ASYNCHRONOUS MODULES AND SCHEDULED CHECK-INS?
Anne: I was pleasantly surprised. I do like that it’s paced out rather than packed into 2 weeks like the in-person course. I think that it’s much more realistic for people who are truly working and have a life outside of this. Besides that, I liked that it’s self-paced. I like that people are able to ask questions to Pat [Hammett] in the class, just like in a real classroom.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN THE COURSE?
Anne: The format has not been challenging. It’s more like where my strengths are with the material. I was actually quite intimidated by the level of statistics that were going to be in the course from the beginning. I haven’t taken a statistics course since I was in college, and I was worried it was going to be really challenging for me. But I did the optional statistics refresher that Pat provided before the class started, and I did that just to kind of level set myself, and I felt a little better about how things were going to go. I also really like how things are explained and how we utilize the tool.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BEST PARTS OF THE COURSE FOR YOU SO FAR?
Anne: Getting into some of the hypothesis testing and data analysis has been really good for me in my current role to think about how we are going to collect data going forward and for working on some of the improvement projects I’m already working on. All of the application examples and understanding how it would apply to what I’m doing now has been the most interesting piece for me. I don’t feel like I’m going through this class and I’m just ticking a box to get a certification. I feel like I’m really getting some helpful goals for my day-to-day role.
WHAT OUTCOMES DO YOU HOPE FOR FROM THIS CERTIFICATION?
Anne: I hope to be able to do more advanced data analysis in some of the projects that I take on. I also hope that this helps advance me in my continuous improvement career. This is a credential that a lot of people look for when they’re looking for more leadership roles, which is where I feel my experience is right now. I just needed to match myself with the credential. I think it will help from a growth perspective professionally as well.