Katie Roberts, from grad student to employee

Posted: July 2, 2014 - 1:36pm

The MBA Career Advantage Program, sponsored by Y‑12 and the University of Tennessee, has brought a number of students to the site. It's a way for Y‑12 to develop and maintain positive relationships with educational institutions and to encourage students, who will be tomorrow's workforce.

Katie Roberts of Facilities, Infrastructure and Services is another alumna of the program who is now a full-fledged employee. In December 2011, she received an MBA with a concentration in operations, after having already earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering. She says her stint with Kimberly-Clark Corporation — in engineering and facility maintenance — probably helped her gain acceptance into the program. "I wanted to come to Y‑12 because it has a great reputation," she said.

As a graduate assistant, she worked in materials management in FI&S, running SAP reports, preparing metrics, and doing cost-benefit analyses. That experience helped put her on the fast track. Six months after hiring on in 2012, she was promoted to Y‑12 fleet manager with oversight for maintenance operations and compliance with Department of Transportation regulations.

Tia Finney, director of FI&S Plant Services, said, "It would be hard for me to verbalize how much of an asset Katie has been. She implemented a 25 percent reduction in the Y‑12 fleet, in part to answer an NNSA Headquarters initiative but also to free up enough funding to upgrade some of our critical heavy equipment. At the same time, she implemented a taxi service to mitigate the impact of the fleet loss to the plant population."

One of Roberts's several productivity improvements is saving $110K annually by streamlining preventive maintenance on forklift batteries. She says her job allows her to combine lean manufacturing concepts with practical applications — that is, doing a process the right way.