Todd Ambo was very comfortable in his role at 3M when he applied for 3M Impact, a service program that takes employees to locations all over the world to work with a local organization and contribute to a solution for a pressing social or environmental issue. As a senior manufacturing engineer at 3M’s plant in Irvine, Calif., he had been working out of the same facility supporting the same products for nine years. So when Todd applied to the 3M Impact program, he wasn’t looking for a career change. Instead, he just wanted to step out of his comfort zone. What he didn’t expect was how much he would enjoy doing so.
“Through 3M Impact, I met some other very skilled and passionate 3Mers from six different countries around the world,” Todd explains. Todd, along with two other 3Mers, were tasked with developing a business plan to scale up operations for Daily Dump, an organization that designs and sells zero-waste products and aims to change citizens’ perceptions and behaviors towards waste. “The task at hand seemed impossible initially, but when we did it, it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced. It was so rewarding that when I got back, I knew I wanted to continue to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.”
Serendipitously, a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt role opened up at 3M Irvine shortly after Todd returned from India. So he applied and got the job. In this new role, he faces high-level problems without a clear solution, a departure from the tangible plant-level issues he addressed as an engineer. And though he’s only been in the role since August, he can already tell how much participating in 3M Impact has helped him with the transition.
“In the 3M Impact program, making assumptions would have hurt us because the culture in India was so different from what we were used to,” Todd says. “It was important to ask the right questions so that we could spend our time efficiently. This translates very well to my current position, because sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing and must listen and learn to ask the right questions so that I’m not running around in circles.”
Another aspect of the program that has helped him in his new role is the emphasis on thinking globally.
“This program really takes you out of the bubble you normally work in and forces you to think beyond your home country. It also opens you up to other 3Mers – I loved how we were all so different but still shared the same values. It was instant camaraderie,” he says.
Because of this experience, Todd says that he won’t hesitate to try something he was afraid to do before.
“Because of 3M Impact, I learned that you can take something challenging and make it rewarding,” he explains. “Working with strangers and stepping out of your comfort zone for two weeks makes you learn a lot about yourself. I am so happy that 3M offers this program – it truly impacted myself and my career as much as the organization we helped.”
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