As chief financial officer of Romeo RIM Inc., Michelle Bourdage said what she believes sets her apart is her business sense. While she is in charge of the finance and IT groups at the Romeo, Mich.-based company, she walks the plant floors on a regular basis.
"I try to look at the whole organization," she said. "Part of the thing that I think is important is being seen through the organization. … As a result of that, I am able to offer solutions that are not just maybe the gatekeeper of finances, but also solutions that help the business move forward."
She said Romeo RIM follows servant leadership, the philosophy and practice of shared power and shared visions.
"From the executive team down to the plant floor, we look at everybody as leader, not just the executive team," Bourdage said. "We look to mentor vs. monitor."
As a "big believer" in information being communicated open and fast, Bourdage utilizes dashboards, also called business intelligence systems, which could be compared to a car's control panel where you see whether you need gas or an engine check.
"For each functional area, I've created dashboards with easy information to see visually, down to the detail," she said. "But those things allow managers to make quick assessments. For me as CFO, I am happy to be able to put that information quickly in front of people so that we can work on problems and not spend so much time gathering data."
Additionally, Bourdage said they operate under the "Hoshin Kanri" method, which aligns company goals with middle management and employees. It involves creating a strategic plan, developing tactics, taking action, reviewing and adjusting.
"We don't set strategic initiatives only at the top," she said. "Each one of our employees has an initiative they're working on, so we kind of set a three- to five-year goal, we set a current year [goal], and then we say who is going to do what. I have them, then my staff has them and makes sure I meet my goals, and then anybody underneath who is influenced on that."
She used reducing scrap by 5 percent as one example of a goal.
"It looks pretty complicated," she said, "but when you break it down, it's kind of like, 'Oh, this makes sense.'"