Alberto Velazquez - To the South Pole and Back: A Six Sigma Change Story

We remember Alberto Velazquez clearly. He was one of just two people who attended our early morning ‘coaching call’ on July 26 to learn about CCMP™. We were thrilled when he recently let us know he had passed the CCMP exam and attained the credential. Alberto is not your typical CCMP applicant. He has a very non-traditional career path. 

Alberto, give us a brief history of your career.

How long do you have? My story begins with the U.S. Air National Guard where I enlisted as a Propulsion Specialist (jet engine mechanic) and moved through several positions. I moved to Tinker Air Force Base as a U.S. Federal employee for the F101 propulsion line and B-52 aircraft maintenance for the Oklahoma City maintenance depot. It was there that I was introduced to Lean Six Sigma (although at the time I didn’t realize it!) and had the opportunity to help launch a new jet engine line in a cellular manufacturing concept. For those who know the principles of 5S, I outlined the engine bay, storage cabinets, and trash cans and shadowed the tool boxes so that everything - including 300 plus tools - had a single readily identified location. 

At the same time, I completed my degree in just eight short years and moved into a logistics position at Tinker. There I perfected my skills in Lean Six Sigma and acquired an Air Force Green Belt. Reviewing what I accomplished on the engine line, I realized that we didn’t apply proper change management. We did not understand why or what we were doing to build a lean engine cell. This began my career in Lean Six Sigma and Change Management. 

So, what attracted you to CCMP? 

I completed my Masters in Human Relations with an emphasis in Organizational Change and Development. From that point on, I looked for ways to add more training in change management along with credentials that set me apart from other process improvement professionals. I tried asking my University to add a change management discipline to their current HR certification but was not successful. During my search, I came across the ACMP organization and learned that they were actively developing a professional exam and certification.  I was excited that a recognized organization would soon be offering certification. It was a no-brainer and I applied as soon as I could.

Clearly you were soaking it all up quickly! for the application, what training did you take to build your change management skills?

Today, I’m an internal improvement consultant working for OGE Energy in Oklahoma, an organization that believes in change management. Although we are still new to the discipline, I was offered a seat in the first few training courses offered by our internal certified Prosci instructor. I loved the course and went on to attend Prosci’s Advanced Change Management Training. Soon after I submitted my application for CCMP.

The essay questions are a challenge for some people. How did you prepare for those and the exam?

I did as much research as I could and participated in a CCMP webinar to understand the requirements and what to expect of the exam. I knew the exam would be a mix of technical application and situational scenario based questions. This can be one of the more difficult styles of tests to study for because you cannot just rely on memory. You have to incorporate past experience to answer some of the questions. I relied on my Prosci materials, the ACMP Code of Ethics and ACMP’s Standard for Change Management. I reviewed these materials every chance I could.

And as a result, you passed! Now that you have it, how does CCMP influence your career?

The designation has provided me the opportunity to educate others on what change management is and why the CCMP is unprecedented. One of the most difficult things about Lean Six Sigma is sustaining the change or the improvement. CCMP lets my customers know that I not only have the tools to improve the process but to also help people adopt the improvement, a key factor in sustaining the future state. 

With CCMP I’m building on my brand of quality, process improvement, and organizational development. At its core these disciplines are based on how we serve and manage groups as well as individuals to overcome barriers. I have encouraged my colleagues to apply for it as well.

You’ve handled so many different roles. What’s the farthest you’ve had to travel for work?

With the Air National Guard I had the opportunity to be part of Operation Deep Freeze which provides air lift support to the National Science Foundation in Antarctica. That allowed me to visit the South Pole – something that less than one percent of the world’s population will ever do! 

Congratulations Alberto! Next time you are at the South Pole, please plant a flag for CCMP!