The Transformers

Tech-, science-, & math-savvy young professionals inject innovation and reset the system

Latoya L. Wall
Lean Sigma Six Process Improvement Facilitator

Company: The Bulsard Group L.L.C.
Location: Houston, TX
Education: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Louisiana State University; M.S. in Project Management, Boston University
Innovation: Using data and statistics to improve the efficiency of her clients by re-engineering their business processes

Wall plays the numbers game, and the impact to a company’s bottom line is serious. Take her work with Chevron. The 29-year-old is at the forefront of its extensive corporate-wide initiative. The Chevron Gulf of Mexico Business Unit Materials Management Project is currently underway to create updated standard operating procedures for the billion-dollar oil corporation. “This is a huge initiative Chevron is taking on. Some processes are from the 1950s that they are working to bring up to speed,” she says.

Wall was brought on for her extensive expertise in Lean Six Sigma—a fusion of two innovative and rigorous quality assurance methodologies. While Lean production looks to eliminate waste yet still produce top-quality products and/or services, Six Sigma is a disciplined systematic process well-rooted in mathematics that uses statistical analysis to improve a company’s performance by eliminating “defects.”

“We’re trained as engineers to go straight to the solution, but the thing about Six Sigma is that it drives you to look at data and to make the most logical conclusion,” says Wall, who has the highest level of certification for administering Six Sigma compliance, a Master Black Belt. “The most interesting part of my job is taking something as basic as a spreadsheet and turning it into a solution.”

When implemented correctly, Lean Six Sigma is a proven performance and quality assurance driver. (Six Sigma is said to yield a return of at least 20 times the investment in three years.) Wall’s company, The Bulsard Group, is working to complete Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Supply Chain Operations management restructure. The update will affect the materials used for offshore facilities and drilling, at a total production value of more than 700,000 barrels of oil a day. Her efforts have already seen a successful implementation of business management software.

Wall actually worked for Chevron in a Lean Six Sigma and project management capacity before striking out on her own in February 2008. Her other clients include defense firm Raytheon and Houston-based Precision Medical Billing. The Bulsard Group is on course to gross more than $500,000 in revenues by year-end.

“These processes have been used in healthcare, manufacturing, electronics, and, for decades, the automotive industry. But the oil and gas industry is just coming on board and seeing the value,” says Wall. “Now that we’re in this economic environment, it makes perfect sense to take a look at bottom-line savings and cost-cutting measures, and that’s where Lean Six Sigma comes into play: How can we do more with less?”

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  • Nathalia

    Good post, Mark. As with anything, someitmes we get so caught up in the semantics that we miss the true meaning behind the terms. When you boil it down to the principles and the desired results, one begins to get a better overall understanding of what needs to be done to improve. Then, one can move forward using the most efficient methodology to acheive the desired outcome.Just as with Lean, this concept seems so simple yet it is VERY difficult for us to fully implement. We have our favorite slant to continuous improvement and somehow feel that we have to champion that line of attack to the exclusion of all others. Then, we in some way have to minimize the other camp in order to justify our position. What a terrible waste of time and creative energy that could be put to much better use by learning from each other’s strengths and tackling the problems together. This would cause less confusion in our associates and they would feel more secure that the leadership is all pulling in the same direction.