As a student at Rutgers School of Engineering in the early 1990s, Ray Attiyah ENG’91 felt challenged when it came time to choose an engineering discipline after an initial interest in electrical engineering didn’t stick. He took a hard look at his unique talents to determine which field best suited him. As he explained to a group of ISE students when he returned to campus recently, his ability to recognize patterns and devise and understand systems led him to industrial and systems engineering—not to mention some success as a poker player later on.
Today, Attiyah is the founder and CIO of Definity Partners providing mid-sized manufacturing companies with successful growth strategies directly tied to the performance of frontline employees. He is also the author of Run Improve Grow: From Firefighting to Bold Business Growth, which provides insights for business leaders to improve and grow organizations from a bottom up philosophy.
Speaking to students and faculty, Attiyah passionately shared his thoughts on innovation or in his words, “getting people to see the future.” From his first job redesigning the endoscopy manufacturing operations line for a major pharmaceutical company, he began formulating what would become the basis for his, “Montessori for adults” approach to management.
“People take ownership of what they create,” Attiyah stressed.
When helping manufacturing companies strengthen their businesses, Attiyah believes innovation drives jobs and is the basis for growth, but innovation can only happen when a company is running efficiently—which begins at the frontline.
With an empowered frontline leadership, companies can increase efficiency and profitability, along with trust, respect, and the generation of new ideas.
“Reliable systems help you be bolder,” said Attiyah. “We need bold leaders to plan the future.”
And with 600,000 manufacturing jobs currently unfilled in the U.S., Attiyah believes he can change the perception of manufacturing as a career choice and, as a result, improve the middle class.
Attiyah encouraged the students to discover their talent and passions and let that be what leads them to their future. And the sooner, the better, if possible.
“Find out what you love early so you have time to master that talent.”
Or, in other words: run, improve, grow.