Formerly known as Backpacks to Briefcases, Courses to Careers (C2C) has been an extremely effective venture for EDSI with a 71% rate of employment from its participants since its inception in 2012. The advantages for program participants are countless and specific to each individual, however, the program’s findings have seen several advantages that are repeatedly mentioned by its participants.
An oddly high number of crickets have been chirping near the Brunswick County Career Center lately. How serendipitous it is that the song, “Give a Little Whistle” by Jiminy Cricket came up in conversation with a team member on the topic of doing what’s right. People are often told to let their conscience be the guide in making decisions, but when you can’t rely on your conscience, “Give a Little Whistle” and instead let your Values be your guide. A conscience can waiver with emotion and vary from person to person, but a stable and unchanging set of company values and code of conduct standards can help guide a team toward success, especially when the team is faced with challenging decisions.
Earlier this year EDSI hosted a Youth Program Open House at the Michigan Works! Livonia Service Center.
The goal of the Open House was to introduce the Youth Program to members of the community and connect with local youth who may be eligible for the program. EDSI’s Youth Program staff organized the event, which included an introduction to the WIOA Youth Program, employment and educational resource displays, career readiness games, a walking taco station and a raffle with lots of great prizes!
In a previous blog, I wrote about how inspired I was after attending several powerful sessions on leadership, compassion and purpose at the fourth annual Positive Business Conference hosted by The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at U-M.
Another exciting thing that happened at the conference was that EDSI received an award for its student-run positive business project, presented by the Center for Positive Organizations, a student-led initiative designed to identify and showcase business practices that create positive impact.
On September 8, 2016, EDSI partnered with Patricia Simmons, LLMSW, from God’s Precious Treasures, a local Maternal Infant Health Program (MIHP) provider, to host Mommy/Daddy Day at the Michigan Works! Livonia Service Center’s PATH Office. MIHP (http://www.michigan.gov/mihp/) provides home visitation support and care coordination for pregnant women and infants on Medicaid. Ms. Simmons conducts presentations at the Livonia PATH Office to share information about MIHP and the resources available through her agency’s team of Social Workers, Registered Nurses and Nutritionists. They offer services for Childbirth and Parenting Education, Psychosocial Counseling, Housing, Breastfeeding Education, Employment Referrals, Food Bank Memberships, Baby Items and more.
Who doesn’t love a chance to recharge their professional battery every so often? As an attendee at the fourth annual Positive Business Conference hosted by The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at U-M, I can tell you that it was a welcomed opportunity!
The business leaders and academic experts speaking in the workshops were incredibly enlightening and motivating. Each speaker brought a unique perspective and shared powerful stories related to the theme of this year’s conference, “Positive Leadership: Practices and Inspiration.” I hope you enjoy reading my impressions from a couple of the most impactful sessions I had the pleasure of attending.
Roger Magdaleno served in the United States Army for over four years. Once he separated from the military, Roger had aspirations of becoming a truck driver. While exploring his career plan, he experienced legal problems and became incarcerated. Once released, he sought employment in a field that would give back to his community. Roger became a youth specialist in Detroit, assisting and mentoring at-risk teens. This was a valuable experience, however Roger still felt the desire to fulfill his true calling. To achieve this, he needed to obtain his CDL-A license.
On August 11, 2016, Roger arrived to the WIOA Orientation at the Michigan Works! Livonia Service Center, seeking options for CDL-A training. He was also receiving services from a Veteran Career Advisor located at the Service Center. As Roger proceeded through the WIOA Program’s eligibility process, he was a little hesitant about completing an assessment of math and reading skills. WIOA staff provided Roger with resources and onsite tutoring prior to the assessment. On testing day, Roger passed with flying colors! Shortly thereafter, Roger registered for the WIOA program.
Anthony Stoutermire is now driving his 48-seat DDOT bus in a safe, cool and calm manner. He sits tall and proud. He’s made a total comeback after four years of healing from serious injury, painful physical therapy, mental health therapy and job retraining.
Anthony first discovered his desire to drive while working full-time performing bus maintenance with Total Bus Company. He worked hard to ensure the buses in the maintenance yard were in tip top condition and couldn’t help but wonder about how it would feel to drive one.
I wasn’t expecting to be inspired by a field hockey office display, but that’s what happened recently during my visit to a local university. Are you wondering how recruiting and succession planning for your company could possibly relate to a University field hockey program?
Picture this: a striking, larger-than-life visual of a long-range “staffing” plan, highlighting each year from now until 2020, showing field positions, names of current players and potential recruits. It was color-coded and created to help coaches identify, by position, the talent needed to stay competitive and ultimately work toward their goal of building a championship team. It was obvious: they clearly understood they needed talented people to achieve that goal and all the particulars were captured in vivid detail.
That display got me thinking, “How many companies understand what their talent needs look like?” It made me realize that capturing the right kind of data, and making that data come to life visually, is crucial in setting the best goals and vision for the future. How close is your organization to understanding what your talent needs look like – today … in 3 years … in 10 years …?
Nakel Banks began participating with the WIOA Youth Program at the Livonia, Michigan Works! One-Stop location in March, 2014. She entered the program as a high school graduate in search of employment.
As Nakel engaged in program services, she took advantage of job fairs and attended career-focused informational sessions to explore opportunities for employment while considering her future profession. By summer 2014, Nakel had obtained employment as an assembly line worker. She also enrolled in college courses at Schoolcraft College to pursue a degree in forensic science. Nakel shared that “I was excited to study and to have a steady income while in school. I had and have a great balance between work and school. I think it makes a strong and well-rounded person to do both.”
Michelle Ceoux began participating in the Livonia PATH Program on November 9, 2016. When she entered the program, Michelle was employed part-time as a Medical Assistant at an urgent care facility, however she was not earning enough money to achieve self-sufficiency for herself and her family. Transportation was a source of concern; Michelle was relying on a mix of public transportation, family assistance and cab service to get to work. At her PATH orientation, Michelle met with her Career Development Facilitator (CDF) Dawn Mathis and received information about supportive services available to PATH participants. During the next several weeks, she completed her Application Eligibility Period (AEP), maintained her work hours, gathered estimates for a car purchase request and made contact with a previous employer about possible employment opportunities. Obtaining her own vehicle would allow Michelle to confidently pursue her employment goals, and in December, EDSI approved her request and provided PATH supportive services funds for a car purchase.
When Samiha Sufyan began participating in the Livonia PATH program in February, 2016, she was facing several significant employability barriers. Samiha met with Career Development Facilitator (CDF), Dawn Mathis, and shared that she did not have a GED or diploma, a driver’s license, child care or work experience outside of the home. Additionally, her limited English language proficiency was a barrier, as was her housing situation. Samiha and her 3-month-old baby were living with relatives, and she was in the process of bringing her husband and other children to the United States. Despite all of these barriers, Samiha was determined to achieve success.
When St. Vincent de Paul, a charitable organization with several thrift stores in Southeastern Michigan, needed assistance with staffing their stores, they reached out to EDSI at the Michigan Works! Livonia Service Center. The employer was experiencing issues with high turnover and wanted referrals of interested individuals with great work ethics. It was also important that candidates be committed to the cause of helping others in times of need, because their organization takes pride in this value.
I was recently speaking to a group of 8th graders when one of them asked an interesting question. "As a CEO," she said, "What do you think is more important: vision or resilience?" I told her that my immediate response was vision, for two reasons: First, vision is the sole responsibility of the CEO. The CEO is the only one who should be writing the initial draft of the vision. It's that person's job to say where the organization is headed over the next three years. Second, resilience, when you're pursuing the wrong goals, is a terrible thing. I've lost a lot of money pursuing the wrong business goals for too long. There is a lot of benefit to failing fast.
I explained further that it is important to determine if you're pursuing the right goals for your life. If you're not having success, maybe you should just quit.
Kareem Hawkins began participating in the Livonia WIOA Youth Program on June 10, 2016, following his graduation from Redford Union High School. When Kareem met with the Youth Program’s Career Coach, he expressed a desire to pursue higher education and become employed.
Within the first few months of his participation with EDSI, Kareem prepared for employment through engaging in workshops as well as meeting one-on-one with staff. He worked to develop his resume and create cover letters as he searched for employment. In addition, he completed mock interviews with EDSI staff to learn how to best present himself to an employer. This preparation assisted Kareem as he attended job fairs hosted by EDSI at the Michigan Works! Livonia Service Center.
Ashley Wynn began participating with EDSI’s Livonia PATH Program on September 28, 2016. She was already enrolled in school at Schoolcraft College, working toward a degree in Nursing. She entered into her Application Eligibility Period (AEP) motivated to find employment that would lead her to self-sufficiency.
During her AEP, Ashley recognized her need to update and rework her resume. She met with EDSI’s Instructor, Pete Anthony, to complete this task and prepare herself for future interviews. During the meeting they discussed several options that might help her gain experience in the healthcare field. When Ashley learned of a job opening at a local healthcare company, Homestead Home Health Care, she jumped at the opportunity.
Lord-Xavier Taylor began participating with the Livonia WIOA Youth Program on August 25, 2016. Upon entering the program, he met with his Career Coach and shared his desire to pursue a career in hospitality.
As he engaged in the youth program, Lord-Xavier explored training programs that would equip him in restaurant management and culinary arts. After identifying a training facility, he completed assessment testing and discovered his need to improve his math and reading skills before acceptance into the program. In September, through one-on-one tutoring and educational workshops, Lord-Xavier began to work towards improving his math and reading skills.
Diversify your workforce by hiring people with disabilities and you will not be disappointed. This is, bar none, my experience over the last five years. Before coming to EDSI, I had the opportunity to work on a team of which over 90 percent of the members were people with disabilities. Not only did I learn about business and the beauty of diversity, but I also learned about myself.
According to the United States Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities 16 years and older was 11.1 percent in July 2016 (https://www.dol.gov/odep/). This is over double the unemployment rate for people without disabilities, and many of people with disabilities have very marketable skills and qualifications.
One of my goals is to make it to all 50 states by the age of 40, and all 7 continents by the age of 60. In order to achieve the domestic portion of this goal, about once a year I embark on an overly ambitious road trip. The goal is to cram as much as I can into a 4 or 5 day journey and see as much of this beautiful country as possible. To give you an idea, the last trip started in Boise, Idaho, and ended in Portland, Oregon, and included 5 states, 4 state capitals, 3 national parks, 2 flights, and 1 rental car. It also included a LOT of caffeine and very little sleep.
While a trip like this doesn’t allow me to fully experience any of these destinations the way I would like to, it does help me to understand which of these places I would like to revisit in the future … and how much time I would truly want to spend there.
During another recent trip, I visited Badlands National Park, Custer National Park, Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse Monument. Fair, or unfair, there is some mental benchmarking that goes into deciding how much time I spend at each location, and whether or not I plan on revisiting that place. While both trips were great in their own right, I found myself comparing and contrasting the two. If I am being honest, I would much rather go back to Yellowstone than Mount Rushmore. If I were to make one of those drives again, I personally enjoyed driving through Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon more than I enjoyed driving through Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.
Jim Bitterle, Managing Partner of EDSI Consulting, was invited by Tom Borg Consulting to talk talent! Tune in to this podcast recording to learn more about EDSI and how to develop talent in your organization.
Let’s be honest, work, no matter what industry, can be stressful. A question I ask on daily a daily basis is, how do we cope with the stress in a healthy way? Managing Thought by Mary Lore has an interesting perspective on how to manage yourself. Think of it this way, you need to learn how to manage yourself before you can learn to manage others. Sound familiar? It should because at EDSI, we have our daily ways: Show up, Smile, and Support. A part of Smile is “I am self-aware” which means that you know your strengths and weaknesses and you can recognize them in others. If you can understand how your body deals with stress, you are in a sense self-aware.
Here are the top 3 things I took away from Managing Thought:
1. To manage your thoughts, you must live in the moment and focus
It’s so easy to focus on the future. “I have to have these files done by Friday.” “Thursday is a workshop I want to attend but I have to do an application.” When you find yourself thinking about the future or even the past, pause, take some deep breaths, and think “what can I do right now?” When doing this, you open up your mind and release any extra stress that may be manifesting. It allows you to be inspired and as a result inspire those you serve.
The story of Earnest Shackleton is one of the most heroic leadership stories in history. Shackleton led an expedition to the South Pole during the early 1900s. Shackleton and his men ran into more trouble than just about any other expedition of the time. However, what makes this story heroic is not the obstacles they faced, but how Shackleton’s leadership helped them overcome these obstacles. During their voyage the crew of the Endurance became locked in a flow of ice and was drifting in the arctic sea for months. Finally, Shackleton decided that the only way they would survive would be to find help themselves. He and a few of his men fashioned a life raft, left a large portion of his crew on the ice and sailed for a nearby Island. Before he left Shackleton promised his men that he would return for them. It took him over a year but he made good on his promise and came back to his crew and took them home. There are many great leadership lessons that can be learned from Shackleton, but I want to focus on the most poignant.
Raqia Alrobayi began participating with the EDSI Livonia Michigan Works! PATH office on October 7, 2015 when she entered into the AEP (Application Eligibility Period) process. After successfully completing her AEP, Raqia became a PATH participant.
Upon her enrollment into the program, Raqia's job focus was to return to the travel industry. Her education included an Associate's of Travel and Tourism degree from Centennial College in Toronto, and she expressed an interest in becoming a travel agent. While meeting with her Career Development Facilitator (CDF), Raqia shared concerns regarding her gap in employment. She recognized her need to remain relevant in the workforce and also to build on her computer and administrative skills. On January 5, 2016, she began participating at EDSI's onsite internship program.
Cornelius Davis Sr. shared these kind words of gratitude in a recent letter to EDSI staff at NCWorks in Henderson, NC.
I would like to take some time out to thank the employees at NCWorks of Henderson, NC and in particular, Ms. Sheila Long.
I came to NCWorks unemployed and unsure if I would find employment. Ms. Long sat down with me and helped me carefully map out a plan for a good path to gainful employment.
After carefully gathering some pertinent information, i.e., my strengths/weaknesses and my capabilities, Ms. Long came up with a program that was offering a Commercial Driver’s License and possibly a career in truck driving. I didn’t know if I would be able to complete the training.
On January 20, 2015, Riona Hunter began participating with EDSI when enrolled in the Partnership, Accountability, Training, Hope (PATH) program. During her orientation appointment, Riona met with a Career Development Facilitator (CDF) and shared her career goals. She explained that she was interested in attending Medical Assistant training in order to build upon her current certification as a Nursing Assistant. Her CDF assisted her with researching training options, and Riona decided to pursue her education at Dorsey Schools.
Although motivated to attend training, Riona shared with her CDF that reliable transportation could be a barrier to her attendance. She did not have a valid driver’s license as she was working to pay tickets and fees. Fortunately, Riona’s school of choice was accessible via public transportation, and EDSI provided her with SMART and DDOT bus passes. On February 12, 2015, Riona attended orientation at Dorsey Schools and began training in the Medical Administration and Billing Program. Throughout the training course, Riona shared her progress with her CDF as she gained knowledge in both administrative and clinical skill areas. She continued to receive assistance from EDSI staff with ongoing transportation and documentation needs, and she remained motivated to accomplish her goals.
Micahh Scott began participating with EDSI on July 7, 2015, when she entered into the AEP (Application Eligibility Period). She entered the program with a year of administrative experience and a desire to return to work in the clerical field. Within her first weeks of participation with EDSI, Micahh took steps to enhance her job readiness. She met with staff to create a professional resume that highlighted her administrative abilities, and practiced her communication skills and business etiquette through mock interviewing. Micahh also applied for and received PATH supportive service funds to purchase professional clothing.
As she diligently searched for employment, Micahh recognized her need to remain relevant in the workforce by having current experience. She decided to participate at EDSI’s on-site internship in order to increase her skills. At the internship, Micahh improved her typing, increased her knowledge of Microsoft Office and acquired new skills while working in the scanning and business services departments. As she continued to seek ways to grow her skill level, she accepted the opportunity to job shadow EDSI’s administrative assistant. She learned how to manage front office duties, including tasks that made her resume more relevant and marketable.
Sometimes, when I’ve tried 10 times to re-word a sentence in a resume, or I sit down with a customer who has a less-than-ideal work history, the opening lines from the famous Beatles’ song come to mind:
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone
In the course of writing a resume or speaking with customers, we might encounter any number of problems that can cause great difficulty. In order to provide the best and most effective resume advice to customers, as well as produce great results, we should seek help from all available resources. These can come in the form of people, books, websites…anything that gives us advice and helps us to break the resume stalemate.
I store my resources in my “tool box,” and I can fix most resume problems by reaching in and pulling out something I can use.
“Rapport is the ability to enter someone else’s world, to make him feel that you understand him, that you have a strong common bond.” - Tony Robbins, Author and Motivational Speaker
Building relationships with another person is all about connecting with him or her and creating a sense of trust and understanding. According to some research, we have only 7 seconds to make a good first impression! It is absolutely essential for us to build solid connections with our clients, and this relationship building starts the first time we meet.
When I began my career as a Job Developer with EDSI, I would conduct an initial interview with clients. I would ask questions about clients’ living situation, their children and partners, the kinds of jobs they had in the past and what they wanted to accomplish. The interview gave me some important facts, but I realized something was missing. I wanted to go a bit deeper, I needed to better understand their passions, hopes and dreams when it came to finding, obtaining and keeping a job.
Nedal Alshaibany began participating with EDSI at the Michigan Works! Livonia PATH Office on May 5, 2015 when he entered into his AEP (Application Eligibility Period). During his initial meeting with a Career Development Facilitator (CDF), Nedal discussed his past employment experience. He expressed a desire to learn about computers or become trained as a truck driver. EDSI’s onsite internship program presented a perfect opportunity for Nedal to develop computer skills while meeting his PATH participation requirements in a work experience activity. After completing the AEP, Nedal enrolled in PATH and began in the internship’s Scanning Center. He quickly learned the processes and demonstrated his knowledge by training other interns.
I was recently introduced to Dan & Chip Heath’s concept of “bright spots,” and I wanted to take a moment for reflection.
To watch Dan’s four minute video and read the article about this topic on Fast Company, please click on the following link:
Here’s a small excerpt to illustrate the concept introduced in their book, Switch:
Let’s say your kid comes home one day and shows you this report card.
Alexandra Favors enrolled in the Application Eligibility Period/Partnership, Accountability, Training, Hope (AEP/PATH) program at the Livonia Michigan Works! on October 10, 2015. She had recently relocated to Westland, Michigan from Florida, and along with learning how to navigate a new area, Alexandra had a transportation barrier that was affecting her ability to secure employment. At her PATH orientation, Alexandra met with EDSI’s staff to discuss her employment goals and develop a plan to achieve them. She needed to obtain a Michigan driver’s license, and she received PATH supportive services funds to get the license. Alexandra also utilized EDSI’s van shuttle service to travel to the PATH office for job readiness activities. Resolving her transportation barrier moved Alexandra closer to her goal of employment.
I have been part of many conversations recently about young professionals: being a young professional, how to attract young professionals to specific employers, what do young professionals want in a position, etc. A common theme I heard in each of these conversations was the varying definition, view, and expectations of a young professional. I found it interesting that this term is used so frequently in the workforce, yet is shaped by perspective, which is then key to understanding someone’s view. From here, I turned to a few college seniors to hear their perspectives and asked them to refrain from using the internet.
Abeer Wahdan began participating with EDSI at the Livonia Michigan Works! PATH Office in August 2015. Earlier in the year, Abeer had accepted a relocation assignment from her employer and moved from Illinois to Michigan. Shortly after arriving here, the company closed down Abeer’s new location, and she found herself unemployed. Abeer obtained part-time employment, however she was unable to support her family with the hours offered. She applied for cash assistance and entered into her Application Eligibility Period (AEP) motivated to find full-time employment that would lead her to self-sufficiency.
Kevin Schnieders Speaks on Leadership Development at International Society for Performance Improvement Event
EDSI CEO, Kevin Schnieders, spoke on the topic of leadership development at the 2015 Signature Event of the Michigan Chapter of the International Society for Performance Improvement. Please watch the video below!
"All great and inspiring leaders of the world think, act and communicate in the exact same way, and it's the complete opposite as everyone else."
This is the premise of Simon Sinek's classic TEDx talk "How Great Leaders Inspire Action." During Sinek's TEDx talk, he delves into the biology of human decision-making, and explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.
Sinek references "The Golden Circle" (shown), and talks about the fact that most organizations/people usually communicate from the outside in.
EDSI has given me a chance for a new beginning. I was a 26-year employee at a Fortune 500 company. Through changes and acquisitions, the company was sold and I needed to make a life decision – should I retire, or move to a new company? As the saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” so I decided to seek a new career. I joined EDSI in August 2015 as a Talent Engagement Specialist in North Carolina.
Ms. Nakigudde Lukwago began participating with EDSI on July 7, 2015 and entered her Application Eligibility Period prior to enrollment in the Livonia, MI PATH program. Nakigudde met with a Career Development Facilitator and explained that she had arrived to the United States from Uganda a few years ago, and was now residing in a shelter with her four-month-old baby after leaving an abusive marriage. She came to the program with the desire to secure permanent housing and reliable childcare, as well as to pursue her career goals in the healthcare field. Nakigudde shared with us her feelings upon entering the program: "When I was given an invitation letter from MDHHS (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services), I had lost everything. I was jobless. My car was not drivable at all. To make matters worse, I was homeless with nowhere to go. Yet, I had a baby who depended on me. When I went to EDSI for my orientation, the moment I entered I was greeted with a smile which made me feel comfortable and welcomed. Throughout the orientation day, the staff was ready to work with me through everything so that I could get back on the right track."
Written by Roe Falcone – Regional Director of Operations with EDSI
In June, I had the opportunity to represent EDSI at the 5th annual Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting in Denver, Colorado. This year’s meeting convened nearly 1,000 leaders from business, foundations, Non-Governmental Organizations and government sectors to advance solutions that encourage economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility in the United States. I was thrilled to represent EDSI and be a part of this energizing and solution-driven initiative.
EDSI is excited to launch a new Commitment to Action, Virtual Career Sculpting. EDSI proposes to pair 50 of our clients across all populations with 25 employers - one employer per two clients is the intended ratio. The employers will meet with the clients once a week for the first month to facilitate a positive and sustainable rapport. Monthly meetings will be scheduled for the balance of year. EDSI will provide the tools and guidelines for conducting successful meetings, and video teleconferencing will be leveraged when possible. EDSI will also provide a virtual platform to use for blogging client experiences. Additional tools will be deployed, such as EDSI’s proprietary software Skilldex to understand unique skills, and AcuMax Index to best understand how clients are hardwired.
It was an honor and privilege to meet President Clinton at the CGI meeting. I had the opportunity to thank him for all of his work and told him that because of his push for welfare reform in the late 90’s, I found a profession and company that changed my life!
We look forward to participating in the Clinton Global Initiative for years to come!
Written by Andre Hardy - Youth Career Specialist with EDSI
On May 26, 2015, the second full year of EDSI's Delaware County in-school youth program came to a close with a celebration featuring a raffle for prizes as well as a Student of the Year Award. This year, the program enrolled and served 22 youth between the ages of 14-18 and offered career coaching and mentorship through weekly workshops. Other features of the program included guest speakers from various career fields, field trips to networking events and to view county operations, and dozens of opportunities for part-time employment and internships.
Outcomes of the program:
- all 18 seniors are graduating
- all 18 seniors have been accepted into post-secondary institutions
- 11 students with part-time employment/internships
- potential for many students to gain employment in the summer months
The program is scheduled to resume in August, 2015 with a fresh group of 25 students looking to build toward their futures.
Here's what a few students said they learned through their experiences in the program:
I've learned how to view things from different perspectives when it comes to handling people in professional and personal settings." ---- Ronna'e Cottrell
It's important to stay humble, recognize that things don't always come easy, and no matter what you're going through you have to stay positive." ---- Naje Scott
I learned that in order to get a job you have to sell yourself and that it's important to follow up with employers because not everyone will call you." ---- Donta Sheppard
Being successful is not all about what you know or who you know. It's also about your attitude and how you carry yourself." ---- Diesheer Davis
During this program, I have learned how to get out of my comfort zone, so I decided to face my fears and did something I always said I was going to do, go to college." ---- Brittany Connor
Reflections from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Bus and Paratransit Conference
Written by Brian Lester – Senior Consultant with EDSI Consulting
The Public Transit industry has been a major focus of EDSI’s Workforce Development consulting efforts for nearly 15 years. Throughout this time, our participation as a business member in the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) conferences has been a consistently enriching experience. It is amazing to think how we have grown from a single engagement at SEPTA for a skill gap analysis of mechanics in 2001, to work across the country with dozens of agencies, state associations and governments, labor unions and partnerships in a huge variety of Workforce Development efforts.
At the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Bus and Paratransit Conference in Fort Worth, TX last month, I was privileged to help facilitate a table top discussion of maintenance training and development practices and to present as part of two panels on Maintenance Management and Workforce Development initiatives.
The table top discussion was a part of Maintenance Monday, a “conference within the conference” that gathered over 100 maintenance managers, trainers and fleet planners to share best practices through a variety of facilitated discussions. Topics ranged from alternative fuel infrastructure to bus procurement specifications, and everything in between. The critical conclusion at our table was that new technology on vehicles, combined with significant generational turnover, presents a huge resource challenge to train incumbent and future bus technicians. Whereas there are many avenues to become an automotive or diesel truck technician, there is always going to be a steep post-hire learning curve for bus technicians that requires internal capacity and innovative on-the-job training initiatives. You can’t just hire a bus technician, you must commit to supporting him/her in developing a career.
At the Maintenance Management panel, EDSI presented on our Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) sponsored research efforts on Bus to Technician staffing ratios, and previewed the detailed calculator and guidebook for staffing that will soon be available to the industry. Other presenters spoke on the use of Standard Operating Procedures in training, attracting and retaining women technicians, and the development and tracking of key performance indicators through maintenance and IT collaborations. For the Workforce Development panel, we shared case studies from our recent work in Knowledge Management for the utility industry, which is especially relevant as public transit has a similarly aging workforce and experiences the pitfalls of “knowledge silos” we’ve encountered with our utility customers. Other presentations included change management, public-private cooperation initiatives and future workforce planning. The enthusiasm from panels and audiences, both in and between conference sessions, was infectious.
After hearing from such a wide variety of people passionate about their efforts to improve their organizations and communities through reliable public transit maintenance and operations, I began to think on the flight home about how the common thread of all these efforts is seeking continuous improvement in the 3P’s of People, Process and Perspective that make up the EDSI Impact:
Public Transit is a place of great opportunity. It provides family-sustaining wages for people without college degrees, and there are innumerable stories of senior leaders in organizations who started as drivers, cleaners or mechanic helpers. This doesn’t just happen, it is the result of a lot of planning, effort and commitment on the part of agencies and labor unions.
More and more we are hearing about agencies harnessing data and engaging teams in moving the lead indicators that drive critical performance measures. There is a commitment at all levels to delivering quality service in an efficient manner.
I can’t think of any other industry where people are more willing to give of their time to help colleagues at other organizations across the country. APTA sponsors a peer review process where agencies can get valuable external perspective on their operations, and the conferences always facilitate new ideas and collaborations within and across organizations.
These are very exciting times for EDSI and the Public Transit industry. I’m very excited to see where we can go together over the next 15 years.
Written by Casey White - Director of Marketing with EDSI
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Ballard Benefit Works, Inc. 7th annual conference. With a stated purpose to “inspire, inform and provoke,” Ballard lined up three exceptional speakers.
Mary Bauman, attorney and partner at Miller Johnson in Grand Rapids, MI, gave an “informational” update on ACA compliance.
Tom Emerick, founder of Emerick Consulting and Former Executive VP of Global Benefits at Wal-Mart and British Petroleum (BP), “provoked” the audience with a continued conversation about what is working and/or not working in health care and what companies can do about it.
Both Mary and Tom delivered exceptional messages, but it was the “inspirational” speaker, Heather Abbott, who moved me most at the conference.
Heather’s Story (taken from https://heatherabbottfoundation.org/)
On April 15, 2013, what is referred to as Marathon Monday in Boston, Heather Abbott of Newport, RI set out on an annual tradition with six friends. They would attend the Red Sox game, followed by a walk over to the finish line to watch the runners.
Heather would never have dreamed this day would change her life forever.
Heather was struck by shrapnel from the second of the two bombs, severely injuring her left foot. Strangers Matt Chatham, former New England Patriots lineman, and his wife, Erin, carried Abbott to safety.
After 3 surgeries in 4 days, Abbott was faced with an agonizing decision – should she try and save her left foot, or amputate her leg below the knee. With the help of other amputees, and the support from thousands around the country, Abbott made the difficult decision, at the age of 38, to live her remaining years as an amputee.
Keys to Heather’s Recovery
Heather is an incredible person, and she shared her hope that from this tragic event, she can find ways to positively impact the lives of others. I know that I felt deeply moved by her story, and I’d be lying if I said that the room was filled with dry eyes throughout her presentation. Specifically, Heather highlighted four keys to her recovery:
- Make your mess your message
- Accept your current situation so you can move forward
- Rely on others for support
- “Pay it forward” when you have the opportunity
Heather’s Story Continued (taken from https://heatherabbottfoundation.org/)
Her recovery, as it is for many, was a journey through pain, anger, optimism, challenge, and resilience. A significant part of her recovery was her support network – the friends, family, and strangers who sent her well-wishes, the fellow amputees who helped her transition, and the custom prostheses that allowed her to live her life as before.
Through donations, Heather was given four different prosthetic legs and just months after the bombing, she was living independently and resuming the activities she loves, including paddle boarding, running and wearing high heels.
Heather has remained a model of strength and resilience, and is determined to help other victims of limb loss. She is certified Peer Counselor for the National Amputee Coalition, and is helping other amputees adjust to their “new normal,” as others helped her.
And by starting the Heather Abbott Foundation, she has another chance to continue to pay it forward for all amputees who deserve a chance to live their life.
Helping people is the common thread of all that we do at EDSI. Perhaps this is why I was so moved by Heather’s efforts to help others in need. I’d like to thank Ballard Benefit Works for inviting our organization to the conference and for providing the opportunity to hear about Heather’s great work. If you would like to support Heather’s efforts or learn more, here are a few links to get you started.
Written by Jessica Johnson - Program Manager with EDSI
“Speak up. Don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder. Karma won’t help,” Robin Roberts, co-anchor of Good Morning America stated, to an audience of 8,000 women at this year’s 11th Annual Pennsylvania Conference for Women. Robin shared with us how speaking up in previous jobs about what she really wanted to do in journalism helped her achieve the level of success that she has found today. Robin also spoke about her battle with cancer, the loss of her mother and some of her professional setbacks and accomplishments. She truly is an inspiration to many women. Robin, along with other noteworthy speakers such as Jane Paulie, Tory Johnson, and Diane Keaton, spoke of their personal and professional journeys in order to encourage all of the women who attended this conference for the purpose of personal and professional development.
The Pennsylvania Conference for Women is one of the largest conferences of its kind. Held at the notable Pennsylvania Convention Center in the heart of Philadelphia, women from many different backgrounds and various stages of their careers came together to share, learn and empower one another. The conference agenda included workshops with various tracks such as career development, health and wellness, personal development, social media roundtables and breakout sessions. Tory Johnson, regular contributor to Good Morning America, lead one of the breakout sessions and talked about her book, The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight and Discovered a Happier Life. Tory discussed five necessary steps to complete before making a change; steps she implemented in order to successfully lose over 70 pounds. Tory talked about her journey and the obstacles she had to overcome to achieve her weight loss goals, some of which many of us could identify with.
One of the highlights during the lunch hour was when famous Hollywood actress Diane Keaton read excerpts from her book, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty. Her book is about beauty, aging and staying true to one's self; something women of all ages and backgrounds can identify with. She also talked about never wanting to retire because she felt like the word alone was constrictive and she wanted to stay active for as long as she could. At the age of 68, Diane Keaton is as young as she wants to be, and she inspired us to continue to pursue our dreams. Conference attendees also had the pleasure of listening to Linda Cliatt-Waymand, principal of Strawberry Mansion High school in Philadelphia. Linda was featured on ABC’s Nightline and World News Report because of her efforts to improve the safety of the academic environment at Strawberry Mansion. Linda melted the hearts of America and those at the conference when she ended with her notable saying, “If no one told you I love you today, remember I do.”
Of the many great and informative workshops I attended, one that stood out was, “Leadership in a Multigenerational Workplace: How to Leverage Your Employees for Maximum Impact (POE).” The panel speakers shared strategies to lead more effectively, increase productivity and improve cross-generational communication, which are topics we have covered during manager’s meetings here at EDSI. The workshop gave us tools to bring back to our offices and incorporate to further improve our strong culture and results.
Having never attended this conference before, the experience was definitely more than I had anticipated. At the end of the conference, it seems impossible that anyone left not feeling empowered and ready to take charge of whatever goals she had in mind!
Lehigh Valley wanted to show their deep love and support for one of their EDSI coworkers, Eva Echevarria, who is battling breast cancer. On November 5, 2014, EDSI staff, the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board and the Bureau of Workforce Partnership and Operations greeted Eva in the morning wearing scarves on their heads. After a memorable group photo was taken, each staff member handed over his/her scarf to Eva, one by one, and embraced her with a hug. Eva is a hardworking, strong woman with a positive influence in Lehigh Valley. Everyone is so happy she has returned to work so they can see her smiling face again!
Muneera Safieddine entered her Application Eligibility Period (AEP) at EDSI’s Westland PATH Office on June 24, 2014. She was willing from the first day to do whatever was asked of her and accepted any suggestions to assist in moving forward with her career goals. Muneera expressed her interest in being a Patient Care Technician (PCT), and she planned to enroll at Henry Ford Community College in their PCT program. After much discussion regarding finances and the supportive services available to PATH participants, Muneera researched several training programs, identified a PCT training with three national certifications that are state-transferable if she ever relocates, and submitted a request for financial assistance.
Muneera was focused on gaining employment or a volunteer work opportunity that would increase her work experience and skills. She received supportive services for the purchase of interview clothing and met with staff to review openings. Within three days, Muneera had an interview for a Tour Guide position with the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. Her pleasant personality and bilingual ability were a great fit. The museum provided Muneera with a book about Arab American history to study and memorize, and when she returned to our office, she was excited to share what she had learned about her culture. In addition to her studies, Muneera shadows museum staff when time allows and attends museum events. Her study program will be completed in December, and Muneera may then be considered for a paid position.
Along with her activities with the museum, Muneera continued with her PCT career path. She received her supportive services and enrolled in PCT training at Phlebotomy Career Training located in Garden City, MI. On August 8, 2014, her classes began. Muneera is enjoying the training and was happy to share her first test results with EDSI; she received an A in memorizing 120 medical term acronyms.
Balancing vocational training, pre-employment activities, and her family responsibilities is not easy, but Muneera has approached each opportunity with an extremely positive attitude and enthusiasm. When asked about her collaboration with EDSI-Michigan Works! and the PATH program, she had this to say:
“My name is Muneera Safieddine, and I would like to tell you about my experience with Patricia Hindman, who I am very lucky to have as my worker; she took out a lot of her time and energy to help me. I am a single mother of five children and have been having a hard time obtaining a job, so I had to reapply for cash assistance. I was sent to PATH, and I was lucky enough to have met her. I feel like she went out of her way on everything to help me look for a job and asked me about what kind of job I wanted. The program has helped me a lot, even helping to assist with interview clothes and making sure I can reach my dream of being in the medical field. I am now in training, and I feel very blessed and very thankful. I just wanted to give my gratitude for her and PATH. Thank you very much for the respect and time to help me get into the medical field. Thanks!”
Written by Michelle Knierim - Associate Consultant with EDSI Consulting
Kevin Watson and I had the privilege of attending and representing EDSI at the MISHRM (Michigan Society for Human Resource Management) Annual Conference a few weeks ago. The conference was hosted at Cobo Hall in Detroit, MI, and it was nice to spend some time downtown. Reflecting on the experience, I appreciate all of the meaningful conversations with HR professionals and various exhibitors from the great state of Michigan. I’m looking forward to following up on the many conversations started at the conference over the next few months!
During the conference, we had the opportunity to hear John Fikany, Vice President of Microsoft, presenting as one of the keynote speakers. John was by far one of the best speakers I have ever heard. One thing that really stuck with me was John’s message about how we should always strive to treat others with respect. Though it may seem like a simple message, I really appreciated his passion and perspective. I truly try to treat everyone equally and with respect and try to do something every day that takes me out of my “comfort zone” to better understand others. Following the presentation, I had the opportunity to speak with John, one and one, and I was able to thank him for taking time out of his vacation to speak with all of us. My interaction with John left me feeling motivated in many ways!
EDSI also received the 2014 “When Work Works” award at the conference ceremony. This award is given to companies that have highlighted how effective and flexible their workplaces are and how they yield positive business results and help employees succeed at work and at home. I felt honored to work for a company that was among only 16 companies receiving this award in the state of Michigan!
All in all, I left the conference feeling excited and motivated for the months ahead! Already looking forward to next year’s event!
Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting
Ten years ago, I was twenty-five years old and thought I had the world figured out. I had been dating my college sweetheart for 4 years, I was living in beautiful Austin, TX, I was succeeding in my job, I had just purchased my first house, and I was saving up to buy an engagement ring. Then out of the blue, my life was turned upside down.
My girlfriend went to the doctor for a routine check-up, and they asked her “Have you been keeping an eye on this?” “An eye on what?” she replied.
“Well, you have a suspicious lump. Based on your age, I’m sure it’s nothing…but we would like to do a needle biopsy to make sure.”
As you may have guessed by the title of this article, it wasn’t “nothing.” My girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 25, and in rapid succession she went through multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. For time’s sake, I will give you the Cliff’s Notes version of the story. After she completed her very aggressive treatment regimen, she was told she was in remission and we started to move on with our lives. We got engaged, and started making plans for the wedding and the honeymoon. Exactly one month before the wedding, our lives were once again turned upside down. She visited the doctor for a check-up and was told they needed to run some additional tests/scans due to some elevated tumor marker tests. After several hours of waiting, the doctor came in and told us the cancer had returned. She told us it was very aggressive, and that realistically, we were probably looking at 12-24 months. Needless to say, this is not the news you expect to hear at the age of 27 (especially not a month before your wedding).
There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing/inspiring she was over the next few years. She made a pledge to live life to the fullest, and inspired countless others to do the same. She made a bucket list, and started chipping away at it immediately: getting married, going on a honeymoon, going skydiving, taking multiple vacations, starting a charity event, etc. She always told me that she was happy she was diagnosed. She said it put things into perspective and made her appreciate what was truly important in life. She didn’t just say it, she meant it and lived her life that way.
She also did something that I am forever grateful for. She told me that if I sat around and felt sorry for myself after she was gone, she would come back and kick my @#$! She told me she wanted me to travel, to fall in love, to get married, to have kids and raise a family. She encouraged me to get outside of my comfort zone and to take risks.
She passed away over four years ago, and I hope that I have made her proud. Since her passing, I left my previous job and found my dream job. I have been on multiple road trips across the U.S., I have hiked in the Australian Outback, swam in the Great Barrier Reef, been on a photo safari in Africa, been to Hawaii, Rome, Venice, Florence, and the Greek Islands. I have spent more time with family and friends, and I try not to get bogged down by inconsequential things that would have stressed me out in the past. I have also helped to carry on her legacy by keeping the charity event that she started alive and growing. After our event this September, Bras for a Cause (www.brasforacausemichigan.com) will have raised over $500,000 for Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit. I also took her up on another piece of advice. I fell in love. I got married, and will get to meet my newborn son any day now (maybe even before you read this)!
I would encourage each and every one of you to learn from what we went through. Don’t wait for tragedy to befall you before you realize what is truly important in life. Make a list of things you want to accomplish in life, and start chipping away at it tomorrow. Live life to its fullest, and inspire those around you to do the same!
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed.
Written by Laura Warrington - Delaware County Program Manager
Our participants need to take a one-week break during Job Search to participate in another activity such as Community Service. Since it is only one week, we came up with community service activities our participants can complete either in the office or in the community themselves. One activity includes writing a letter to the troops. The letter below, written by Yolanda, brought tears to our eyes. Her children colored the pictures themselves. Yolanda, a single mother of three, is currently ready to take on two jobs, all while going to school to obtain her bachelor’s degree in nursing. She is truly remarkable.
I want to begin by saying thank you for your selfless and courageous effort to serve and protect the citizens of our great country. Without great individuals like you, we would not have all that we have today, such as our country’s independence, freedom and constitutional rights which rest in your hands. Like angels, you and thousands of others like you, watch over us and protect us all as we share and create lasting memories with our families and friends, as we commute to and from work and school each day, and as we rest our heads to sleep each night.
I am a single mother with a 9-year-old son named L.J. I also have two daughters, Amya who is 8, and Tamia who is 7. I explain all the great things that I know of that you do for us as one of their bedtime stories. Whenever we talk about “The Heroes,” my son likes to tell me how cool and awesome he thinks you guys are! He actually wants to be an engineer when he grows up. Amya wants to be a doctor, and Tamia wants to be the Pink Power Ranger (chuckling within). I am still working on her, so you have to excuse her. I mention this not only to tell you about the most important people in my life, but to inform you that I know that you and other people who fight by your side are the keys to our future. It is such a prestigious honor to have people like you watching over my children.
I may not know the colors of your hair, eyes or skin, but one thing I can say is that none of that matters to me. What you do for us emits a vision of love that is priceless. The countless hours you devote to your country each day to train and strategically plan ways to enforce or improve the safety of civilians in and around the United States of America is more than just commendable. In my opinion, it’s beyond words.
Each time you deploy, my prayers go with you, your fellow troops, family and friends who supply you with a reason to care and eliminate any threat to our home. Like great guardians, you watch over my brothers and sisters, and elected officials who dedicate their time to filter ways to continue to maintain life’s cycle.
Although there is nothing that I can give you in material possessions or wealth that you can hold in your hands to thank you for your service, that which I can give you is a promise that now and forever I give you my love, my respect and my eternal gratitude for all that you do for us.
I hope my words, although few, give you an idea of how I feel inside. I pray for your health and safe return home to your loved ones as soon as possible, and in my heart your personal sacrifices will never be forgotten or mistaken for anything else but love.
Written by Deanna Tafelski - EDSI Project Coordinator
I’m proud to work for a company like EDSI that cares deeply about the communities in which we live and work. Each year, EDSI employees have the opportunity to participate in various volunteer opportunities and make a positive difference.
Thanks to all of the EDSI employees who lived our values outside of the workplace and “showed up, smiled, and supported” others last year. Here are a few pictures from EDSI volunteer efforts!
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