Day in the Life of a Process Excellence Manager

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Shawn Carner

Have you ever wanted to know what it would be like to work in a different job or industry within process improvement? PEX Network's twice monthly "A Day in the Life" series continues this week with Shawn Carner, Process Excellence Senior Technical Manager at Roche Pharmaceuticals.

On a daily basis at Roche, I am involved in a wide range of activities. I have a global support role within the Pharmaceutical Technical Biologics operating unit of Roche on the Process Excellence Team as a change agent/Six Sigma black belt. I am responsible for business process analysis, design and optimization to enable routine delivery of exceptional performance.

Shawn Carner is Process Excellence Senior Technical Manager at Roche Pharmaceuticals

I am focused on delivering positive business results and am focused on establishing and improving business processes to improve reliability, increase simplicity and enable growth. I regularly use and teach the Lean Six Sigma data-driven, problem-solving methodology to deliver tangible business results.

The areas that I specialize in include value stream mapping, kanban implementation, statistics, and the deployment of 5-S and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) at our site. I regularly consult with internal groups and provide coaching and mentorship for room owners and auditors. I am our visual factory expert and design graphics for technical visual factory elements and site communications. These often include illustrations, logos, videos and graphic elements. I build the capability and capacity in the workforce to enable continuous improvement activities using the operational excellence methodology through training, coaching, mentorship, and facilitation of tools and principles. I have to ensure that all improvement efforts are aligned to site goals, are financially evaluated and provide value to the site. I mentor green belts during their development as change agents, which often involves daily conversations and guidance.

For our global teams, I am developing a knowledge sharing network and communities of practice to enable growth and best practice sharing across the world. During some weeks, I am directly facilitating change across functional silos by leading kaizen (rapid improvements) execution teams and longer-term execution projects in support of developing LSS capabilities and achieving our world-class manufacturing aspirations.

In 2010, I directly contributed more than $3.2 million in savings from projects that I led, including $1.4 million from a Lean supplier development initiative for which I was the primary change agent across our 12-site network. This year, this initiative is on track to deliver another $3.5 million in invoice reductions. With this initiative, I often have to coach LSS belts and train staff from our suppliers on our rigorous LSS processes and standard work. I usually meet weekly with my procurement counterpart on this initiative to manage the tactical aspects of the initiative and discuss the accountability of our suppliers for the delivery of their continuous improvement goals. There are two suppliers engaged in this pilot program that have more than 20 chartered work streams across four sites. These will yield more than 200 individual changes to generate the cost savings for the Roche network.


Effective sponsorship is my No. 1 challenge daily. I have to build strong relationships and partner with business leaders to build trust and influence at multiple levels within the organization and then have them commit resources, time and energy for a period of time against the competing reality of daily activities and fires. I always hear, ‘We don’t have time for continuous improvement because we are dealing with the current fire.’ The thrill comes when I can show a business leader that I can free up the capacity of their employees by eliminating the waste in their processes, which then allows them to focus on or completely eliminate these ‘fires.’

How did I get to this point in my career? Well, I showed high initiative in continuous improvement projects when I was a manufacturing lead in our GMP (good manufacturing practice) plant and had proven performance in problem solving to deliver financial results that led to a rotational assignment on a Lean pilot team. My performance on this team led to a full-time position within our operational excellence department.

Do you want to share your story with PEX Network? If you work in process improvement we'd love to hear what your day is like! "A Day in the Life" submissions should be between 700-1000 words and can be sent to us at Please include a brief professional biography, and a jpeg photograph. Please note: submission does not guarantee publication.