You Can Succeed: Rafael Jimenez’s Career Journey
In March 2007, Rafael Jimenez began his DENSO career in a temporary production role at DENSO Products and Services America, Inc. (DPAM), the company’s aftermarket unit based in Long Beach, California. After joining full-time in August that year, Rafael was off and running on his career journey.
“After being a line associate, I became part of the team that launched the fuel injector business at DPAM, then went back to being a line associate,” he said. “For the next eight years, I worked in various areas, including quality, water treatment, disassembly and assembly.”
Today, Rafael is a production supervisor at DPAM’s Murrieta, California, location. This came after being tapped to lead the batch area in 2017, and supervisor positions in assembly and the warehouse in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“The only department I haven’t worked in is maintenance,” he said. “All these rotations have helped me understand what we are doing, and how to meet customer expectations. This background helps me be a more effective coach to my team.”
Rafael credits the many stops along his career path to the amount of information he’s learned on the job and through training, as well as three key people.
Learning By Doing
Rafael said the transition to being a lead in the batch area had the strongest learning impact.
“I had to learn about new products and a different approach to working,” he said. “It was the first time that basic Kaizen principles were being applied to my activities. It was a lot, but I was really excited to learn how applying the concepts could help meet our targets and make improvements.”
Rafael’s enthusiasm and interest caught the attention of his supervisor, Julio Morales, who had completed Lean Six Sigma training at the University of San Diego, and suggested Rafael pursue it as well.
“Julio saw potential in me, and thanks to his guidance, today I’m a green belt in Lean Six Sigma,” he said. “I learned so much about continuous improvement and how it’s something to consider in everything we do. It’s so easy to become comfortable once you’ve met a target, but there’s always something that can be improved, from the quality of products to how an associate feels about the work they are doing.”
In addition to supporting Rafael’s Lean Six Sigma training, DENSO provided him with leadership training through the Regional Management Development Program (RMDP), now called Inspire. Rafael said he learned a lot, helping him put things into perspective and hear the experiences of peers dealing with a similar situation or common issue.
The Power of People
In addition to the support and guidance from Julio, who Rafael considers both a friend and coworker, two other people had a significant influence on his career.
“Jim Lewis was a VP when I first joined, and he was really in-tune with operations,” Rafael said. “He’d come to the floor to connect with associates and processes. He knew every associate on a first-name basis, which was an impressive trait for someone at that level.”
Rafael also credits is his current senior manager, Jaime Franco.
“We’ve taken similar paths, starting as a temporary associate and working our way up,” Rafael said. “We share similarities in how we started, and I look up to him.”
Think You Have a Limited Career Path? Think Again
Rafael understands that some associates may think their career path is limited. But he couldn’t disagree more, believing that opportunities are out there, if you want them.
“DENSO is a great place to work, but it’s up to you to make the best of your time here,” he said. “My career path shows that by being dedicated and applying your knowledge, you can succeed and move up. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and experience – a fresh pair of eyes on a common problem can bring about an overlooked solution.”