George Parada works in food and beverage production, but really he produces high performing teams. Born and raised in San Francisco, George began working at a food manufacturing company straight out of college. As he moved into leadership positions, he dedicated a huge portion of his job to teaching others. George has launched numerous initiatives to train employees within his organization. These trainings provide employees with new skills, opening opportunities for them to succeed.
George has been married for 12 years and loves sports. He’s an avid 49ers and Warriors fan, so we feel for him in this time. George believes in building high performing teams to get high performing results, so his dedication to both his teams at work and his sports teams are no surprise.
George Parada, thank you for everything you do. Your passion for reliability and teaching others changes lives.
How did you get started in maintenance?
I started my first job right out of college at a company called Cargill. Cargill is a global food manufacturing company and I was hired doing operational roles. I was a production supervisor and had a couple of teams that I led across departments. After a couple years in this role I started to drift towards the maintenance department. I had grown an appreciation for the work I saw and saw an opportunity to improve how they were doing maintenance. I became the Maintenance Supervisor there, and eventually I moved up to be the Maintenance Manager and then to the Director of Reliability. As the Director of Reliability I oversaw the reliability programs of 22 locations across the US.
One of my main focuses in trying to improve maintenance processes was to foster the development of our people’s skills – I saw a lot of skills that we were paying for and thought, “Well, why don’t we just train our guys to do this and get skilled up ourselves.” I built out a skills matrix to find the skills gaps, and then came up with programs on how to close those gaps. After a few years of teaching and learning maintenance capabilities, we probably had saved a couple of a million dollars. It was great because it gave a lot of ownership and opportunity to the maintenance teams and made them proud to have those skills. We also developed a program to put some of our operators through a local community college. After a three year education and more on the job training, they became mechanics.
I worked for Cargill for 12.5 years, but now am at Constellation Brands, a global beer, wine, and spirits company. I work at the corporate headquarters as the Director of Engineering, so my team focuses on engineering best practices and implementing reliability programs and processes for all the facilities. I’m still really passionate about training and excited that I get to continue it with my team today. I also love what I do because of the impact reliability can have on all aspects of a business. There’s no other effort that you can work with the drives value through anything you do.
What is one of your proudest achievements?
I’m proud of a program I created at my former company called ROME – Reliability, Operations, Maintenance, and Engineering. It’s a five-day bootcamp for new engineers that come into the organization who might not yet have the skills to manage a department. It’s really just a program that I think I would have appreciated and benefitted from when I started. At the end of it, the participants have the skills in reliability, efficiency gains, process improvement, drive value through the business, etc. and can drive value themselves. People still talk to me about it to this day even though I’m not even at Cargill anymore, and that’s what makes me so proud of it – that it’s still meaningful and impactful for people to this day.
What is one thing you wish people knew about your job?
I wish people understood how much of an under-appreciated field of expertise maintenance is. Also, I wish people, especially leaders, knew how important it is that we continue to develop our teams. Leaders don’t usually want to skill up their teams because there’s this thought that if we train them, they’ll leave. I like to point out the alternative – what if we don’t train them? Supporting people’s development and providing them with a transferable skill set that they can bring to any job or experience are at the forefront of bringing value to an organization. It’s not just about getting the next promotion or making the company successful. It’s about making the people successful, so they can continue to make other people successful.