In September 2021, the McGill Desautels Faculty of Management concluded its first edition of the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification. Kate Richardson, a graduate of the McGill Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, became the first graduate of this new program.
With over a decade of experience in operations management, corporate sales and account management, Richardson most recently held the position of Director of Business Operations at CLEARGOALS. After completing the Green Belt, Richardson was ready to dive head-first into the Black Belt.
“I took the Green Belt class through McGill which was taught by Alex Boussetta in 2017. I remember asking him, ‘What’s next?’ and ‘Can I do the next one?’ I loved it, I loved the methodology, and I had a feeling that it was going to work well in my career,” said Richardson. “As soon as I saw the Black Belt was available, I proposed it to my employer.”
As a senior manager, she felt the Black Belt would be a key asset to her role. Having already completed the Green Belt and noticing a difference in how she approached problems and interacted with staff, CEOs and executives, she was ready to take it to the next level. “I’m not sure I fully knew 100 per cent what I was getting myself into, but I absolutely loved the focus on data,” she said.
Data and data analytics are becoming increasingly important across industries including finance and retail, and being able to take data, analyze it, and fully understand what those analytics mean are key skills to have in any role.
“Learning to understand data, know which data is significant, what actions should be taken were some of the main benefits that I received from the class,” Richardson explained.
One of the main challenges for her in her journey through this course was the switch from an in-person format to a remote learning environment. Having completed the Green Belt prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was an all-new experience to her. “I think the first remote training session was a bit harder,” she said, adding that as time went on, she was able to quickly adapt to the virtual format and that it added something to the course as it allowed for more diversity in the guest speakers who participated.
“I think it opened the door to have even more professionals there from across Canada, and even the U.S. That was really interesting because we really had a wide variety of people and professions; it was really valuable to hear their perspectives and experiences,” she said.
Overall, she feels the Black Belt was a natural progression for her. “It was just a great experience; Lean Six Sigma is a mindset and going from the Green Belt to Black Belt helps solidify that and really helped with the progression in my career,” she explained.