A certification that typically requires multiple years of work experience and practical projects has become a reality for two Syracuse University MBA students as they have successfully passed their American Society of Quality Six Sigma Black Belt exams. Eshank Sehgal ’20 and Xuan Nguyen ’20 are grateful for the opportunity to take the classes and the exam, for which the Whitman School paid, and say their achievement gives them a significant competitive advantage in the market.
“ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt Certification is well recognized all over the world,” says Sehgal. “This certification will help us be recognized in the niche job market that requires knowledge on the subject.”
The subject to which Sehgal refers is supply chain management, specifically continuous improvement. Lean Six Sigma is a well-known certification within the field of continuous improvement.
There are five project levels of Six Sigma, according to Nguyen – White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt and Master Black Belt. She says only 126 people in the world have achieved Master status with Black Belt being the second toughest certification. She already had six years of experience in supply chain but decided to take the Lean Six Sigma course as an elective.
“I loved the class and never could have achieved the certification had I not taken it,” says Nguyen. “While it was challenging and time-consuming, it was worth every second. I now have hands-on experience with real companies facing real problems.”
Gary La Point, professor of supply chain practice, teaches the Lean Six Sigma course. In addition to presenting concepts in class, often using games to demonstrate key methodologies, La Point also coached students through an experiential learning project focused on Aspen Dental Management Inc., a dental practice management corporation that provides business support and administrative services in the United States.
Sehgal says their project helped Aspen Dental better manage its inventory of materials for new office openings so necessary items were available when needed, but not being held for too long in the warehouse. Inventory management principles were one focus area but Sehgal says he learned about change management, too. “We have to make our solutions sustainable. They have to be accepted by everyone otherwise your efforts might be in vain” he says.
La Point says he’s had favorable results with projects over the years he’s taught the class. In fall 2019, a project generated an additional $4 million in revenue for a paper company by reducing 50 percent of the set-up time on high volume printing and die machine. He adds that most of the student recommendations end up being implemented at the companies.
“Now that students are taking business analytics courses, they’re bringing an additional set of tools they can use on their projects,” says La Point. “Many students find full-time jobs as a result of working on the projects and that’s really what this should be all about – providing experience and tools for students to get jobs.”
The course and associated projects prepared Sehgal and Nguyen well for the certification exam, which took them both approximately three weeks to prepare for. “Professor La Point helped guide us as far as what to study, what materials to use and he even let us borrow study materials,” says Ngyuen.
Overall, both enjoyed the experience and credit the Whitman School for making it a reality for them. For more information on the Lean Six Sigma course, visit the course catalog.
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