“As Operations & Information Management (OIM) students, you are learning a great deal that is applicable in consulting. That holds whether your projects involve operations or not," observed OIM graduate Paul Cichocki ’91 during a visit to a class taught by department chair Iqbal Agha. Cichocki is a partner with the consulting firm Bain & Company, in Boston. At Bain, he tracks performance as leader of the firm’s Americas Performance Improvement practice. His work spans many different markets including healthcare, manufacturing, packaged goods, and technology.
Isenberg OIM students, he continued, graduate with highly valued skills and excel as strategic and critical thinkers. That positions them for upward mobility as managers and leaders. And their facility with Big Data and analytics brings them added marketability.
In his 19 years of management consulting with Bain, Paul has tackled a wealth of projects: he’s identified and dissolved bottlenecks in production, integrated merging companies, streamlined credit card application approval processes—the list goes on and on.
Identify a problem, frame it, fix it, and outline the improvements.Companies, he noted, can’t always provide the information that a consultant needs to solve its problems. So the consultant must be adept at extracting information and ultimately deploying it in defining problems and testing solutions. “Identify a problem, frame it, fix it, and outline the improvements,” he remarked. A single improvement in a process can save a company millions or even billions, he emphasized.
After graduating from Isenberg’s OIM program in 1991, Paul was a department manager for 4+ years at a large Frito-Lay plant in Kirkwood, New York. In supervising product lines like Fritos and Doritos, he brought best practices and continuous improvement to their production and packaging. After that, he earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where its case-oriented curriculum complemented his background at Frito-Lay and Isenberg.
At Isenberg, Paul met his future wife, Cindy Ostrowski ’90, also an OIM major. The couple lives in Eastern Massachusetts with their two children. He commends the OIM program for its respect for the human players who ultimately make or break productivity and quality. That perspective, he notes, is valued in all businesses. Companies are increasingly looking for people with pragmatic experience and emotional intelligence. Both are critical to driving and managing change and continuous improvement, he told the students.