Case study

Business improvement consultant — Lina Maria Juanias

Lina Maria Juanias studied chemical engineering in her home country of Colombia before moving to the UK to take a Masters in food production management at The University of Nottingham – before becoming a consultant in the field of continuous improvement

How did you get your job?

At the end of my Masters and as part of my course, I did a three-month placement focused on continuous improvement (CI), and I loved it. Since then, I have been working in the CI field, getting experience as facilitator, leader and manager.

After a few years working for the same company, I decided that the best way to apply my experience and learn more was as a consultant. After a couple of interviews, I got a job with Applied Acumen.

What’s a typical day like as a consultant?

Normally I spend most of my time working with people in the production area. After identifying the opportunity in the business, I design a plan of action to implement changes in process and behaviours at all levels in the company, from the shop floor to the senior team.

Every business is different and every plan of action needs to be according to their needs. That is why flexibility and being open-minded are important skills in my day-to-day job.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The thing I enjoy the most in my job is the opportunity to work with so many different businesses. This allows me to gain a lot of experience, meet different people and face many different challenges in every project.

My job involves a lot of traveling, which is sometimes hard, but I love it. I have always worked in the food industry, which is one of my passions, I really enjoy that.

What are the challenges?

One of the most challenging aspects of my job is the ability needed to understand and process information quickly. I need to be able to arrive at a new company, adapt quickly to the new situation and at the same time analyse and identify the critical points to improve.

In some cases, that requires long hours of work and a high level of concentration during the day. However, all that it is compensated when I see the satisfied faces of the client after a successful change is implemented and sustained.

In what way is your degree relevant?

Both my Bachelors degree and my Masters degree are completely relevant. First, as a chemical engineer, I have got the knowledge and high level of understanding about processes, unit operations and machinery in general along with good numerical and IT skills.

My Masters in food production management gives me the confidence and skills in two different areas. One is the scientific knowledge. It allows me to be able to propose safe changes during the production of food. And the second, the management skills, gives me all the concepts and tools to use in CI.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I have been already working in the CI field for some years now. However, I have been working as a consultant for only one year so far and for that reason I have still got a lot to learn and a lot of experience to gain.

As a consultant, I have got unlimited options to grow and that is my main ambition. I want to become a very experienced consultant who can help many businesses to increase efficiency and productivity satisfactorily.

How do I get into consultancy?

The most important thing is to find something that you really have the passion for. All the rest is extra: the time spent studying it, the hours working on something, or the mindset always looking for improvements and better ways to do things.

My career path was not always clear, but I realised that the more I was learning at university or at work, the more defined my career path became. I realised that I wanted to understand the science behind the chemical and physical processes.

Then, I understood that the food industry was my passion and finally, once I opened my world to the operations and business improvements I faced my fascination to discover every day new and better ways to do things.

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