After graduating from Heinze Academy in Hamburg, Germany, Robert Schmelzer moved to Tampa, Fla. where he worked in quality assurance at the airport. Then he transitioned to a role as a mechanical technician at Mettler Toledo. Since starting his career at Mettler Toledo two years ago, Schmelzer is now an applications specialist, and he isn’t stopping there as his interest for other aspects of the OEM’s business grows. With a mechanical engineering background, Schmelzer felt that Mettler Toledo and the packaging and processing industries were where he could make a difference.
How does Mettler Toledo support you as an emerging leader?
Mettler Toledo encourages employees to upskill themselves both personally and professionally and supplies us with the tools and courses we need to do it. Mettler has a great server-based learning platform that allows you to study on your own or prepare for upcoming events and take leadership courses. There are always new challenges, and we have constant exposure to new tasks, teams, and problem-solving opportunities. Additionally, I was selected to participate in a Six Sigma training, which was an amazing opportunity to take that step towards becoming an emerging leader by leading process efficiency projects within my area or listening and helping others with theirs.
When you came into this industry, what surprised you the most?
I am surprised by how the food market is mostly controlled by only a few key companies, which are becoming larger by merging with smaller companies. Another astonishing thing for me is how much engineering can go into designing a product’s package. Two different products could look similar, but their product package could be completely different based on the needs or thresholds they seek.
Are there any hot button issues on your mind?
From a workforce perspective I have noticed that many companies are utilizing different types of automation, whether it be some type of optical recognition or artificial intelligence, to make processes more efficient and eliminate mundane and repetitive tasks so we can focus on more meaningful work.
What are some interesting skills you’ve learned while on the job?
Adapting changing schedules or impromptu situations and learning something that needs to become second nature, like a customer demo, has been a big challenge for me. Being the host for customers is an amazing opportunity and big responsibility, and it can be intimidating. I’ve had to teach myself how to be flexible and prepared to do a demo at any time. In this circumstance, being on a team that is reliable, sharp, and always willing to collaborate has been very helpful because we can collectively come up with interesting solutions at the last minute. To keep that synergy going we have to have solid communication to point out things we could have done better and openly discuss how we can approach future challenges.
What advice do you have for other emerging leaders about getting involved in this industry?
Never turn down an opportunity to bring yourself ahead in life. When a task or challenge arises, you might hesitate to face it, but if you overcome the intimidation of the task, you will be proud. No one is born into leadership. You have to earn and learn it by listening and challenging the status quo. Preparation and knowledge of your area and product are also important parts of becoming a successful leader. Show your true self in the highest respects and try to inspire people to be passionate, form teams, work together, and have fun at what you are doing. Take ownership and show how passionate you are about whatever it is that you do.
What does winning this award mean to you?
It makes me feel like my contributions to the team, eagerness to learn new things, and ability to take on new challenges are recognized, and that my actions impact others in a positive way. This award shows me that I am creating my path as an emerging leader.