John Urbaitis, 30, joined Northbrook, Ill.-based M. Holland Co. as an accounts receivable specialist in 2015 and worked his way up to become the resin distribution firm's first business analyst in 2017, "a role I helped establish and define," he said.
Urbaitis "dove into the plastics world" after receiving a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison: "Like most people, I was unaware of how big a role the plastics industry plays in our day-to-day lives. It quickly became apparent how crucial of an industry it is to the global economy.
"I was fascinated when talking to M. Holland product managers about the engineering and chemistry involved in creating various types of plastic. I relished the opportunity to teach my friends and family about the plastics industry and our role in so many products, from simple pen caps to innovative medical devices," said the senior business analyst.
Urbaitis has spearheaded new company initiatives, launched new systems and presented at industry events. He joined the company's enterprise resource planning leadership team in 2021 and customer relationship management leadership team in 2022; developed M. Holland's first Business Analyst Tool Kit; and co-led its rapid response team focused on fixing critical business issues.
"My position is transitioning from an individual contributor to being more leadership-focused. Like all leaders in this transition phase, I find myself challenged with organizational dynamics and how best to navigate them. … I embrace this challenge and learn more every day," he said. "My current project focuses on canvasing the organization to find efficiencies at all levels — from systems to processes to people. I appreciate that I am trusted to make the appropriate recommendations."
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Urbaitis: My greatest achievement is my participation and leadership in our successful ERP platform launch in early 2021. This was my first major technology project and the largest in the organization's history. My title was business analyst, but I did my best to stretch that title daily.
Given this was unknown territory for me, I was able to build and strengthen my skill set. Depending on the day, I developed strategies for various project phases, tested the system, performed change management, managed the partner or provided value wherever needed. We had no playbook for running a project of this size, giving me the ongoing opportunity to shape our approach.
Each day brought a new challenge and opportunity to learn how to execute better in the future. COVID threw us a curveball during the most crucial phase of the project and forced the team to transition from an entirely in-person project to a remote one in less than a week. The team adjusted and persevered. We successfully launched the new platform in February 2021. The experience not only made me a better professional, but it allowed me to build a relationship with each department in the organization and ultimately made me a better colleague.
Q: What steps have you taken to advance in your career?
Urbaitis: Early on, I realized that certifications provide credibility. I made it a priority to obtain my business analyst certification. I am a constant learner, asking questions until I can understand a situation and develop a perspective. I have always been eager to work on new projects or explore new initiatives. I am vocal in team discussions, showing colleagues and partners I have an informed understanding or opinion — this is something that propelled new opportunities for me early on in my career. Most importantly, I aligned myself with mentors who could provide tangible advice on everything from approaching specific situations to career development.
Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?
Urbaitis: As I progress in my career, I am gravitating towards two things: empowering workers with technology and leadership. I want a role that embraces these two, which would likely be a technology director or chief information officer. These roles sit at the intersection of people and technology, and you must balance both to be successful. As technology plays a larger role in our working lives, I feel these positions will become more and more influential to an organization's success.