Member of the Month: Essroc's Charles Farina, Manager Business Process Improvement

Charles Farina

Charlie Farina is Manager of Business Process Improvement at Essroc Cement Corp., the North America business unit of Italcementi Group, a €4.5 billion multi-national cement and building materials firm. At Essroc he’s responsible for implementing business process improvement capabilities across the company and for managing its Operational Governance program and Enterprise Risk Management program.

Charlie gets our member of the month accolade for being one of our most loyal and regular webinar attendees on Here he responds to questions about his life and opinions both at work and at play.

Q: Who do you admire most in the business world?

No single individual, in particular. However, I am particularly respectful of people who can lead and transform their business organizations or their countries. I recall a good definition of a leader by a futurist named Joel Barker, "A leader is someone who will take you where you would not go on your own."

Q: What was your dream job growing up?

Since high school, it was to enter the engineering profession. Since my early years in this field, it has been to find the right balance of professional career and family priorities.

Q: Do you see yourself primarily as an industry expert, or more as a business transformation professional?

At this stage of my career, I view myself as a business transformation professional. I believe my engineering experience has allowed me to adapt team leadership skills on capital projects and extend them to business process improvement efforts.

Q. What’s the next big innovation in the manufacturing industry?

I believe the next big thing is focusing on improvement opportunities that align to a company’s strategic objectives and deliver meaningful results. Going beyond process excellence, I think manufacturing has to adapt its practices to the changes in the business world, e.g., recovery from the latest recession, mobile and cloud computing, age and experience levels in the workforce, etc.

Q: Which project are you most proud of at Essroc?

The opportunity to share my business process management experience and introduce these concepts to both Essroc and our parent company, Italcementi Group.

Q: What is your favourite hobby?

No specific hobbies, other than to spend time in family activities as our children grew up. Now, it’s also spending time with our grandchildren.

Q: Do you think business process improvement is grounded too much in abstract theory, and not enough in metrics and tangible benefits?

I believe companies are now finding the right balance between these two extremes, i.e., the theory and the tools/metrics. This balance is how to align business process management to the strategic goals of the firm and produce hard benefits that make a difference in the firm’s performance and its relationships with customers.

Q: What is your favourite book?

No truly favourite books, but I particularly like military history, mostly World War 2 and the American Civil War.

Q: What is your favourite film?

Not a film, but the HBO series, Band of Brothers

Q. What is your favourite comedy?

Big Bang Theory

Q. Lean or Six Sigma, which do you take out on a date, and why?

Probably Lean, since much of my experience has been in working with non-manufacturing processes (e.g., engineering, sales, procurement, human resources, etc.). With the relative lack of process performance data, the focus is more on eliminating waste.

Q: Which piece of technology do you treasure the most?

I’m most impressed with the development of the personal computer (since the 1980s) and how it’s enabled significant improvements in preparing and managing information as well as in collaboration across the workforce, customers, and suppliers. I see mobile devices (like tablets and smartphones) and cloud computing as the next step-change improvement. I can’t imagine where we’ll be in the next five years.

By the way, I’m probably dating myself by recalling all the paper-based methods used over this time frame!

Q: What is your favourite sport?

Baseball and football as spectator sports. An occasional round of golf with my sons.

Q: What is your favourite meal?

A good steak

Q: What is the quality you most like in an employee?

Being true to yourself - not trying to be something or someone you’re not.