Fortune favours the bold
Not everyone can say they braved an active volcano in order to make it to a business meeting. But then again, Wärtsilian Chauncét Thomas is not just anyone. Find out why she is an innovator, in the truest sense of the term.
In 2010, the volcanic eruptions in Iceland caused chaos around the globe, with flights being cancelled and plans being thrown out of whack. Where most people would have given up, Chauncét Thomas took it in her stride.
“It was supposed to be a day-and-a-half trip to Vaasa, but ended up taking four days,” she recalls. “I was in the air for seven plus hours already when the plane was diverted and sent back to the US. Further diversions and missed flights complicated matters. The following day, three landings later and without my luggage, I managed to make it to Vaasa in time for the last of four meetings I was to attend,” she tells.
It takes determination and immense reserves of fortitude to make it through such challenges, but luckily, Chauncét has these in spades. She joined Wärtsilä North America 11 years ago as a Project Controller. In this role, she quickly demonstrated an ability to learn and adapt to circumstances.
“They were expanding the scope of the local project execution and it became necessary to manage the cost follow-up locally,” recalls Chauncét. “Since local cost follow-up had never been done before in the Americas region, I had to proactively reconcile it, and subsequently define the new way of working and maintaining it. I took the opportunity to learn about the company and my responsibilities, not hesitating to ask my colleagues for advice and developed a new process around what I had learnt.”
Her reputation as a resourceful problem solver and her can-do spirit guaranteed Chauncét’s growth in the company. Today she is a Management Systems Manager, ensuring that the Americas Area maintains the same standards, same way of working and same customer experience: from development, implementation and auditing of processes, to internal, ISO and regulatory requirements.
This busy lady also works as a liaison between the Americas Area and central Quality, Environment, Health and Safety organisations; provides support for the company’s environmental programme; and is involved in welcoming new acquisitions to the Wärtsilä family, integrating their way of working into the management system.
Architect of change
Over the years, Chauncét has had the opportunity to work and experience Wärtsilä from the perspective of both, Energy and Marine Business, as well as newbuilds and services. The experience proved helpful when pulling off her most significant contribution to the company.
“My most impactful contribution was in leading the consolidation, integration and harmonisation of four certification bodies, 26 ISO certificates and nearly 50 auditing days within the area Americas. Now we have one certification body (DNV), three certificates, less than 25 auditing days and a single management system, making accessible all related corporate, division and local processes in one digital location. All this was set up with only minor disruption to the organisation's daily work,” she says.
This is an impressive feat that underlines just how much Chauncét loves working on new challenges and contributing to change at Wärtsilä. She also keenly follows developments in digitalisation and Wärtsilä’s ongoing transformation and views it as a crucial component that will help Wärtsilä keep ahead of the times. However, she also believes that the company must continue to address sustainability issues by introducing new opportunities.
“Consumers and businesses alike are becoming more aware and sensitive about sustainability,” she explains. “Over the next five years, I see Wärtsilä resolutely addressing not only the environment but also the economic and social aspects of the sustainability triad.”
“If we at Wärtsilä desire continued growth and are to obtain more exposure and interest, then we have to not only adapt to trends but also continue to listen to the customer and societies and address their needs,” emphasises Chauncét.
A supporter of sustainability, both professionally and personally, she sees herself playing a key role in developing a robust environmental framework within the company, in cooperation with Wärtsilä’s customers and local communities.
Given her natural skills as an innovator, Wärtsilä clearly holds the winning hand with Chauncét on board.