At Sanergy, the “relentless pursuit of excellence” is one of our core values. This, however, is easier said than done when manufacturing, installing and managing the waste from Fresh Life Toilets in the slums. The number of idiosyncratic disruptions on a day-to-day basis is mind-boggling: unannounced water shortages, impassable roads due to flooding, and electricity surges and outages are all commonplace. Yet, because we come to expect them, we can actually prepare for these events.
Michael Lwoyelo, our Engineering Operations Manager with a background in running operations at Wrigley’s, joined us recently to bring about real and efficient order (or “process maturity” in business-speak) to our engineering operations as we scale. We asked Michael a few questions about how he views his role:
Why did you choose to work at Sanergy?
From the onset, I loved the simplicity of the Sanitation = Fertilizer + Energy idea. It’s not so often that we encounter a simple idea that can truly change the world!
What’s the most interesting challenge for you so far as an operations engineer?
Looking at how we want to scale up our operations as a company, it will be interesting to see how our logistical model of toilet installation, waste collection and waste processing will evolve as we spread out countrywide and around the world. At times, if feels like the options available to us are countless and choosing the optimal one is difficult.
What’s the biggest challenge that you face?
Just like food from every McDonalds tastes the same, just like every bottle of Coca-Cola tastes the same, we aim for a uniformly high-quality Sanergy experience to the customer regardless of their location, not just in Kenya, but around the world.
At the same time, it is natural that as we get bigger, the direct influence that the management of Sanergy will have on the fabrication team, installation team and waste management teams will decrease. The challenge we face is transmitting our culture to each team member to ensure that each shares Sanergy’s vision and values.
From an Engineering Operations standpoint, we tackle this issue by developing standards that represent how we do things. We call these standards “Work Instructions” and “Standard Operating Procedures” that describe to a T how we fabricate a toilet, install a toilet, collect waste and process it. The standards also include our expectations for Safety, Occupational Health and Workplace Organization.
The standards are the platform on which we train, measure and audit the people who perform these tasks. This is how we hold people accountable for what they do.
What keeps you up at night?
I couldn’t find better words than the “relentless pursuit of Excellence.”