Podcast Masterminds in Maintenance

Episode 23: Producing High-Performing Teams to get High-Performing Results with George Parada

Ryan Chan

This week on Masterminds in Maintenance, we are so excited to welcome George Parada to the show! In this episode, Ryan and George discuss the the intricate process and standards of producing high-performing teams in order to achieve high-performing results. Listen today!

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00:06 Ryan Chan: Welcome to Masterminds in Maintenance, a podcast with those with new ideas in maintenance. I’m your host, Ryan, I’m the CEO and founder of UpKeep. Each week, I’ll be meeting with a guest who’s had an idea for how to shake things up in the maintenance and reliability industry. Sometimes their idea failed, sometimes it made their business more successful, and other times their idea revolutionized an entire industry. Today, I’m super excited, we’ve got George Parada here on the show with me and with us. George, you began working at a food manufacturing company straight out of college. Since then, you’ve accumulated tens of years of experience as a professional manager in the food and beverage production, strong focus in maintenance and reliability. As he moved into leadership positions, he’s dedicated a huge portion of his job teaching others and producing high-performing teams. George believes in producing and building high-performing teams to get high-performing results. And now George, I know this, but you currently work at Facebook as the global facility operations lead. Welcome, George. [chuckle]

01:03 George Parada: Thanks, Ryan, I’m super excited to be here and talk to you for a minute.

01:06 RC: Of course, yeah. We’ve known each other for the past two, three years. It’s been so exciting watching you on your journey. I know a bunch about your background, but our audience and listeners may not. So maybe we could start things off and you could share a little bit about yourself, your background and how you got to become the global operations lead at Facebook.

01:28 GP: Absolutely. So my background is mechanical engineering. I went to school, I really wanted to figure out how things worked and I’m like, “Hey, you know what? What better way to do it than being a mechanical engineer and know all the nooks and crannies of different types of things.” And so I envisioned myself sitting behind a desk, working on AutoCAD and just doing a whole bunch of designs for some company in the future. Little did I know that I was gonna graduate with that degree and go straight into a food and beverage company, a pretty large one, actually. And I basically went and started on second shift. I was like, “Man, what did I get myself into?” I was running a small operation on the back shift, it was like a 4:00 PM to 4:00 AM, and it was like, “Man, this is tough.”

02:13 GP: And then obviously three months into it, they’re like, “Hey, George, we have another opportunity for you.” So I got to go into operations and then run a department on a processing line, and did a couple of those production roles, where I quickly found out that, “Man, our maintenance team has a lot of opportunity to make sure that my equipment is always running.” And so I sat down with my manager, he said, “Hey, George, well, why don’t we give you the opportunity?” I’m like, “Alright.” I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, I didn’t know anything about reliability, I didn’t know anything about preventative or predictive maintenance, but I knew that I needed to improve maintenance in my department.

02:51 GP: So got the opportunity to be a maintenance supervisor, eventually a maintenance manager. This was all, was in the same organization, and then eventually I got the opportunity to go into a director of maintenance reliability for this organization. And what I would say was an awesome learning experience was really bridging and connecting people together, and just seeing the opportunities that people were doing some very great things, they were doing a lot of best practices, but the visibility to that across the organization was pretty low. Got the opportunity to help bridge those connections. We developed some very awesome programs to help scale up some maintenance people that were really interested in developing their careers, and so we did an apprenticeship program.

03:35 GP: Eventually, I left that organization and went and joined an alcohol company, which… That was a really cool experience, and kinda got to set up the same thing. They were… Really needed to have a… Some focus areas around reliability and asset management and we were able to help set up some foundation, and actually we, that’s where we introduced the UpKeep product and getting our entire organization under one CMMS, versus using spreadsheets and whiteboards and what have you. That was awesome, got to work with Ryan’s team. Eventually, I moved on and now working for this social media company and just working on getting some foundational items set up here and having a lot of fun doing it.

04:22 RC: That sounds awesome. What an amazing story; starting your career as a mechanical engineer and then just somehow getting into this space of maintenance and reliability must have been a fun, crazy journey for you, especially working at this small social media company now, right? [chuckle]

04:43 GP: For sure. And I would say, if anything, earlier in my career and even today is just, it’s all about the people that I was able to learn a lot of awesome experiences from and a lot of great exposure, just what those opportunities are and just helping people solve problems. It’s… That’s what it’s all about.

05:03 RC: Yeah. Absolutely. I’m curious, as you look back at the previous like three, four companies that you’ve worked for, are there any common themes that you see with regards to low-hanging fruit, best practices for maintenance and reliability that you think every single facility, regardless of where… What kind of facility you are, could utilize?

05:27 GP: Yeah. I would say, it all starts with a foundation of understanding what you have. When I say that, I’m talking about validating your assets and really understanding to what level are we gonna identify whether this is an asset or not, making sure that that’s all properly set up in your CMMS, and then from there, “Okay, now that I understand what my inventory of assets are, what are the most critical?” Because I wanna make sure that when I eventually start to look at preventative maintenance, spare parts, I need to focus on the ones that are gonna impact my operation, not only from a production standpoint, but which ones are gonna have the biggest safety impacts, quality impacts, if that applies to you, environmental, customer impacts. Because from there, we can really understand what’s that overall criticality ranking, and then start to think about preventative maintenance, and not just do maintenance for the sake of doing maintenance. There’s gonna be times where it’s okay to run things to failure and there’s gonna be sometimes when it’s not okay. So that’s one of the things I always start with, is when I join any organization, as I’m looking at what that overall validation of the assets are and then what are the most critical ones.

06:37 RC: Right, so it sounds like just very foundational, what do you define as an asset and making sure that you have a prioritized list of criticality. How do you determine what’s an asset, what’s not an asset, what you should manage, what you’re okay with going unmanaged? Is it a dollar threshold, is it a criticality to the business, is it risk?

07:00 GP: Yeah. Every organization, I would say, does it somewhat different, and that’s okay. I think the company or the organization needs to define what that is and sometimes it might be like, “Hey, the asset is a $50,000 threshold,” or, “We have to track this financially and we’re gonna do maintenance against it.” So I think as long as the organization can come up with what those definitions are, you have to just stick to it. Set up a governance process, so then when these assets are coming online or even decommissioned, that you’re handling the accounting side of it, but then also the reliability side of it as well.

07:39 RC: I think that’s a very interesting point because I feel like a lot of companies, they have an asset list, but they’re not sure whether they should manage it, whether it should go unmanaged. So having that base threshold of like, “This is what we consider an asset and this is what it means to be an asset,” you’re gonna run preventive maintenance schedules on it, you’re gonna run inspections on it, it’s gonna have this impact to the business; that’s actually really important. And I, what I’m hearing from you, often goes missed.

08:13 GP: Yeah. And I would just add, Ryan, is for me, I’m biased to just standards. And there is an ISO standard that does exist out there, and it’s mainly used in the oil and gas industry, but ISO14224 is what I typically try to steer organizations in, as using that as, what they call the level six, is what I would constitute as an asset, and then just setting up your processes and your organization around that.

08:41 RC: Absolutely. So George, I know you’ve implemented, you’ve developed a ton of different programs. Talk to me, talk to us about ROME: Reliability, Operations, Maintenance and Engineering. What is that? [chuckle]

08:54 GP: Yeah, no, that was one of the most proudest things I would say that I’ve done in my career. And so, it was when I was working for this large food and beverage company, and one of the things that we were thinking about, was we have a lot of these engineers that we’re basically… I’m gonna just call it how it is, we were throwing ’em into just managing and supervising their own department. And a lot of them, even though they had the school background, they probably didn’t have the knowledge of expertise of the equipment that we managed or the equipment that we operated, the equipment that we were gonna engineer. So I, with a group of folks, we basically put together this bootcamp. And I’m always trying to come up with fancy acronyms, just because I think it can really have the bang, right, with folks. And so I’m like, “Okay, and so I wanna make sure that I cover aspects on reliability, maintenance, engineering, and operations.” And I’m like, “OMRE, REOM.” [chuckle] I’m like, “Oh, what about ROME?”

09:58 GP: And it was a hit, Ryan, because we were hashtagging it when we were out there. And it wasn’t very much intense, like five days, we were doing it at this facility, where we basically had life-sized equipment; we had conveyors, we had pumps, we had packaging equipment, and we basically walked them through, “Hey, these are the challenges that you’re gonna face from a reliability standpoint, these are the challenges that you’re gonna have from an operations, these are the things that you need to consider from a design standpoint, these are the best practices within that organization that we needed to set up.” And we gave ’em a pretty fat book that they would utilize throughout the bootcamp and then at the end, it’s like, “Hey, I want you to just go back and just apply this to one or two departments or one or two areas, where you have some opportunities in.” And there was, I would say immediate payback because there was just a lot of ideas that probably just went through people’s head because now they’ve brought all those concepts together, and they received this education.

11:00 GP: And so… And what was even perfect is that it wasn’t just me sitting up there talking to them, I identified, “Hey, these are subject matter experts that were doing vibration analysis, that are electrical guys,” all the different skills that we utilize within the team. And it was these guys… So not only was it a chance for them to teach, it was also a chance for us to recognize, “Hey, these are some, the very impactful people within our organization that are teaching our future engineers, are teaching our future managers, our future leaders around how we can become a more reliable organization.” So that was pretty awesome, we… And I would say, it still continues from my conversations with my former colleagues, so was pretty proud of that.

11:48 RC: That’s awesome. Knowing that something still exists, even after you’re gone from an organization is so, so meaningful. Where did all the material from this handbook, ROME, come from? Was it developed internally, did you use third-party resources? Where can our listeners either get a copy of ROME or create their own ROME? [chuckle]

12:11 GP: Yeah, it was really developed very much internally. There were some things that we did partner with some of our vendors that we use. For example, we used a lot of Rexnord gearboxes; and so they helped us put some of the content together, but a lot of the other stuff was just the best practices that we identify as an organization. So I would say that probably is still proprietary, even I don’t have a copy to that anymore. But I would say, it probably took a long time before we even kicked off the first one, because of the so much prep work that went into developing the materials, and we had several meetings with each one of the people within the team, and some of it was also very specific to our production that we made, like the operations side of it. So, some of it, it would really have to be tailored to the business. So whether you’re operating a hamburger plant, or you’re operating a prison, or whatever it is, you would probably need to really tailor it to whatever is gonna best fit, just, at the same time, using some foundational principles around reliability and operations, maintenance, and engineering. So…

13:20 RC: Absolutely. So a common thing that we hear very often, is finding the time… We all know the importance of documentation, training for the team, but something we hear very, very often is finding the time in the day to do this is always so difficult. George, how did you find the time in the day to build something like this, that we all know is so incredibly important?

13:44 GP: Yeah, it was not easy. Obviously, I, along with the other members that were doing the facilitating and the training, we all had our day jobs. But I would say, the biggest reason and the biggest way how we found time is that it was all the way to our VP of operations that she wanted to make this a priority. And so because we had her support, we had other operations managers and leaders helping us free up time to make this a priority, and we even set a goal and said that, “We wanted at least an X percent of amount of our new supervisors, and even some of the ones that have been around for a little while to go through this.” So really getting that stakeholder support is always critical, like in any initiative, especially around reliability and asset management, to make sure that people are being freed up to focus on it.

14:40 RC: Yeah. And was there a critical moment, where your VP said, “Hey, we have to make this a priority”? How did you get that executive-level buy-in?

14:50 GP: Yeah. No, we were actually utilizing data and understanding, “Hey… ” We were seeing common failures, we were seeing common operational issues, we were also having a lot of people that had been around for a while that were retiring. And actually, I did a talk at a conference a couple of years back that was from a study from Deloitte and actually, it’s where I actually presented this whole concept around ROME, too. But the study talked about, by the time that we hit the year 2025, there’s going to be… I forgot how much it was. I think it was maybe around like two million jobs that were gonna go unfilled in manufacturing. And a lot of that was not only because of the baby boomer deal, but then also organizations were not setting themselves up for success to train and skill their engineers, their new people coming into the organization. So it was another lens just to look at and say, “Look, we really need to make sure that we’re finding other ways to scale our people up and make sure that they’re ready, so when we do hand them the keys to that department, that they can effectively manage it and that they have the tools necessary to manage it.”

16:09 RC: George, I was also listening on another podcast of yours, that you came up with this idea around reliability governance teams. Where did…

16:18 GP: Oh, yeah.

16:19 RC: You’re like, “Oh yeah, I remember that one.” [chuckle] Where did that come from? How did governance change the perception of the reliability team?

16:28 GP: Yeah. So I’m a very visual person, and I really like these Parthenons that you see out there. [chuckle] And so I promise, the governance has nothing to do with politics or anything like that, but it’s really like that overarching. So if we were to say, “Hey, these are our five pillars,” call it whatever you want; reliability, engineering, autonomous maintenance, work management, whatever. But you need to have some type of overarching process, and I would say even change management, around how those things are being managed. And anytime that you’re gonna make any committee, whether you wanna call it a [17:03] ____, or a governance team, or whatever, that is reviewing and then basically pushing that out to the masses. ‘Cause in most times, these processes are being implemented to many different sites within an organization. And I know as much as sometimes people don’t like the word ‘standardization,’ we have a business to run and we have to make sure that we have some consistency, not only from a metrics standpoint, but then also how we do processes. So if I need to move from one location to in California to Minnesota, that I can effectively not have to restart from scratch.

17:36 GP: So this whole concept around governance was really around, how do we assess how we currently manage our operations? How do we measure and utilize the same type of metrics and KPIs? And then what are the tools how we’re going to align to the process that we’ve really established? So it’s really more like a change management type of viewpoint and really driving that consistency. So that’s why one of the things I always try to promote is just this whole concept of governance, you can call it whatever you want, but that’s what I call it.

18:10 RC: And where did these standards come from? Were they developed by you, were they developed by the team, were they developed by the tens, the decades of years of experience that just got handed down? How did those standards get created?

18:27 GP: A lot of times, it’s already… It might be programs and process that already exists within the organization, it’s just kind of bringing it under that umbrella and just saying, “Hey, this is now the UpKeep governance standard,” or, “This is the way how we are gonna manage things at this organization, and if somebody has an idea, we should have a feedback process, how we can take that feedback and review within that team. And then if we need to have a training event to communicate what those updates are, then we’re gonna do that.” But I would say, a lot of times, these… It’s really bringing some of the existing work together ’cause trust me, whether you’re a brand-new company, like the one that I’m a part of, or a company that’s been around, like the one I was a part of, that was 150 plus years old, there’s been a lot of great work that’s gotten us to where we’re at. It’s just really bringing those things together and then just doing some continuous improvement on it, really.

19:04 RC: I love this so much, George, because what I’m hearing from you is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure all this out. A lot of the heavy-lifting has already been done, it sounds like. And the part that many people skip is the documentation and knowledge transfer portion of it, which is arguably the most important piece, versus just figuring it out for the first time. Right?

19:04 GP: Exactly, exactly. And there are gonna be times that you’re gonna have to develop some of these things from scratch, because of something that maybe the company or the organization hasn’t really even scratched the surface on it. And so, that’s where we come in, where maybe we’ve been a part of some really mature organizations, or we go to these conferences and we learn some new things on how to operate and run the business better, and sometimes we’ll even contract out and say, “Hey, we need to bring in companies like X, Y, Z to help us build out our asset management program.”

20:27 RC: So, George, you’ve been part of many, many different maintenance reliability teams. I’m curious, what has made… How would you define success… A successful maintenance reliability team? What does that look like to you, and what have the most successful maintenance and reliability teams at previous companies that you’ve worked with done so well?

20:52 GP: Yeah. I would say, there’s always room for growth, there’s always opportunities to continue to focus on, but some of the things that I’ve, I would say, hang my hat on, is when expectations are clearly understood throughout the organization, and not just at one side, but just really across. And then how are we publishing those metrics, those dashboards, if you will, to make sure that we can identify, “These are the things… These are the reasons why we’re working on these specific challenges.” I would say leadership is a big piece of it, too, Ryan, and even in one of the… One of those pillar models that I put together before, is this whole concept of reliability leadership. And I really got that actually from a safety program that I was a part of at one of my former organizations, and safety has been something that’s always been paramount in my career. And I was like, “You know what? A safe plan is a reliable plan, so why can’t we also utilize that same safety leadership and reliability?” And so, just making sure that people… We’re all here, we’re all very smart people, we’re all very talented. How could we continue to just drive that leadership all the way from that CEO level, all the way down to that technician level?

22:14 GP: And Terry O’Hanlon, if I can quote him, always talks about, “Reliability is for everyone with nobody left behind,” and I completely and sincerely believe in that. And I think the companies, where it’s not just like the technicians, the ones that are just trying to get that machine back online, but it’s also understood why we need to sometimes maybe defer production, or we need to not do this PM right now; that needs to be supported all the way to the top. And if that is not, I can certainly see where maintenance is always the first one to get the budget cuts, if you will, and sometimes that’s the worst decision to make. And one of the things that I always talk about, too, is that there is no other department, there is no other element within a organization that impacts as much as reliability. If you think about safety, quality, cost, all that stuff, reliability is the one that touches all of those. And the moment that you take away from it, you’re taking away from all those other aspects. So organizations that really focus on reliability are the ones that are most successful, in my viewpoint.

23:32 RC: Love it. One thing you wish more people knew about with regards to maintenance and reliability, what’s one common thing that you think people often overlook with regards to maintenance and liability?

23:43 GP: Yeah. I would say… There’s this aspect of reliability engineering, that sometimes the predictive maintenance, like, “Hey, that stuff sounds super sexy. And if we add all these sensors, it’s gonna make our lives a lot better,” but we have to first understand, where do we have the opportunity to do preventative maintenance optimization? Where do we start to look at, how do we eliminate the defects? How do we start to look at more reliability-centered design? And looking at, what are the failure modes telling us from our work order history? The more that we can start to spend time on the data of what we currently do, then that’s where we should make the decisions on how we start to incorporate the cool stuff that you see, like with industry 4.0, like IOT and all of these sensors.

24:38 GP: I’m not trying to downplay that one bit, but I think there’s an opportunity to really make sure that you understand, where do you… Where are you at in your reliability engineering program, and if you haven’t… If you don’t have one, how do you even dedicate one person’s time to just start focusing on that? And really eliminating, what I call those bad actors, and not the ones that we saw on the Oscars show yesterday, but more of the equipment that’s really kicking our butt, the one that’s eating our lunch; so I think that’s a big opportunity. And then the only other thing I would say, Ryan, is what I mentioned earlier, just around understanding your foundational assets and ensuring that you understand which one’s the most critical, so then we can focus on all those other sexy things.

25:27 RC: I completely, completely agree. I think people get tied to these shiny objects, saying, “Hey, these are the cool new things that are coming out.” But, when we look at ourselves and the maturity of the company, and the maturity of our processes, we realize, we gotta crawl before we walk… We gotta crawl before we walk, we gotta walk before we run. [chuckle]

25:49 GP: Yeah. And I would say it’s really, it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. And so some of these things, they take time to really establish and put in place. And so, when you start putting this in front of your CEOs and your leaders, you might not see that payback within six months. These things sometimes take time to set in place, but the fruits of the labor will certainly pay off.

26:17 RC: Favorite book to read from, read and learn from, whether it’s related to maintenance, reliability, or whether it’s totally off?

26:25 GP: Yeah. I would say, one of the ones that I’ve been really promoting recently, and actually used it in a reliability kickoff, was Making Common Sense Common Practice; very good reference book around just all aspects of continuous improvements and reliability. But one of the ones that I really like is, Good to Great; it just really talks about a lot of opportunities that you have within your teams, and how you can apply these principles around just making your organization and the teams that you work with more effective. I always preferred those books, versus romance novels and non-fiction, [laughter] because I would say, I learned a lot from it, and I’ve done one of those personality things with the strengths-finder and all of that, and for me, I’m a big learner. And just like when I was a brand-new supervisor and needed to learn about maintenance, I always continued to just focusing on myself and learning more about reliability in different industries, and even learning a lot now that I’ve… I was in food and beverage for like 15 years, and now I’m in a completely new industry, and I still have a lot to learn here as well.

27:36 RC: Alright, there we go, George. Well, it’s been awesome chatting with you. Can you share with all of our listeners the ways that they could connect with you and watch you, follow you along your journey?

27:47 GP: For sure, yeah. I’m on LinkedIn, George Parada. Facebook, if you wanna go down that route. I’m pretty active on social media, on Instagram. So yeah, no, definitely feel free to reach out if there’s any follow-up questions, if you want me to dig a little bit deeper into some of these things I’ve said, be happy to chat some more.

28:06 RC: Alright, thank you so much, George. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in to today’s Masterminds in Maintenance. My name is Ryan Chan, I’m the CEO and founder of UpKeep. You can also connect with me, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. You can also email me directly at [email protected] Until next time.


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