Keeping Management Accountable

An account manager can’t be afraid to get her hands dirty. “You must have thick skin, a high commitment level and the ability to change gears quickly because there are so many variables to being successful and keeping our crews safe each day,” said Account Manager Sonya Burrell, who manages for MPW at automotive manufacturing facilities in South Carolina and Alabama.

Burrell, who joined MPW in September of 2016, said account managers are responsible for ensuring MPW customers’ needs are met by building quality teams and providing them with all the training and tools necessary to complete daily tasks. “As an account manager we become the face of MPW with the customer,” she said. “We also have the opportunity to build and interact with our teams for each individual site. Sometimes in doing this you create life-long friendships. You run across a lot of different personalities and cultures.”

Dealing with different requirements and expectations can prove to be challenging at times. “Although there are similarities, the different sites are not cookie-cutter so we have to think on our feet,” Burrell said, adding that an account manager’s workdays are never typical. “There are so many working parts to the facilities that you never know what you are walking into each day,” she said. “If I walk in and everything is quiet, I get a little nervous.”

Burrell said her training as a Specialist with the US Army helped prepare her to manage unexpected situations. “As a member of the armed forces I was able to break out of the protective shell that a small hometown provides,” she said. “I was introduced to many individuals from all walks of life which assisted in my ability to positively interact with our customers and team members.”

There have been several occasions where Burrell’s relied on her ability to improvise. She said on one occasion one of the air house readings skyrocketed, which required a change of filters (an air house is a gauge reading that monitors the volume of air passing through filters. Any reading greater than 300 warrants a filter change). “My crew was not on site to perform the change because they are not scheduled during the day,” Burrell said. “When there was a gap in the line I went to perform the filter change myself so that the paint line was not shut down.”

Burrell said on another occasion the customer was having issues with flooding on the first floor. “The customer had their vacuums in use and I jumped on the floor scrubber to get as much water off the floor as I could,” she said. “Since I don’t run a first shift paint line crew sometimes I have to get dirty to make sure that we are assisting the customer in succeeding. I think as account managers we all ‘secretly’ put on capes each day!” In her spare time, Burrell loves to read, spend time in her craft room and build Lego cities with her 5-year-old grandson who states, matter-of-factly, that he is a master builder. “My daughter-in-law and grandson reside with me and there is never a dull moment,” she said.

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