Case Study Sherwood Manufacturing
Sitting in her car in the parking lot at Sherwood Manufacturing, staring at her hand-held phone, Miranda Appleton couldn’t believe her eyes. She had read the e-mail several times and still didn’t believe it. Bryan Luther had just been named vice-president of operations; the position that Miranda felt she deserved and had expected to be given very soon. And now, Miranda would be reporting to Bryan! Miranda thought back to all her hard work, not just the excessive hours in the last six months-but the six years before that as well.
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When Miranda came to Sherwood in 2005, she already had fifteen years of experience in the appliance and electronics industry that Sherwood was becoming dominant in. She had been excited to take this position as the company seemed to be on the cusp of taking over the primary market share. She was brought in as the production manager overseeing three manufacturing plants in the tri-state area.
Within two years, Miranda’s skills in utilizing these plants to assist each other rather than work independently had brought a quick promotion to become the Supply Chain Manager. This role, while technically a lateral move, gave Miranda the visibility to all levels of the company not only the three domestic manufacturing plants but also marketing, finance, and every area of operations. Visibility was something she desired and felt was necessary to be promoted further. To replace Miranda, Sherwood had hired a young aggressive man with limited experience but large potential-Bryan Luther.
Since 2005, Sherwood had advanced in technology and overtaken several smaller appliance manufacturers. The electronics side-with its strong international competitors-of the business had proven more difficult to conquer, so with Miranda’s supply chain team leading the way, Sherwood had acquired several significant competitors and created synergy with the new product lines. The results were dramatic. By early 2011, Sherwood’s latest data showed the company had advanced significantly. Not only was revenue and market share higher than projected, profitability ratios showed strength, and with the new supplier contracts that Miranda had just signed off on the cost of goods sold would continue to drop.
A quick rap on Miranda’s car window brought her back to the present. Standing outside her car was Jason Caselli, a true friend of Miranda’s and her co-worker. Jason was the E-Marketing Specialist and had worked closely with Miranda since she had been hired, helping her develop the relationships among the staff in order to implement the changes she worked so hard to develop. While Jason had rejected promotions over the years citing his personal life as a weekend disc jockey limiting the additional hours he felt he could give to his job, Miranda had always spoken openly to him about adding responsibilities.
“I take it you heard” Jason began as Miranda rose from the car. They began a slow walk together to the office. “I was a little surprised about Bryan, I didn’t think they would seriously consider him for the position, I actually don’t know how qualified he is.”
Miranda sighed. “He isn’t qualified; he has no concept of team work. I’ve listened to him in meetings, it’s always about him. ‘He brought in the new computer system, he reduced production times, he identified the sources for the production wastes.’ Most of those items were ones that I initiated before I left that role and had given clear guidelines and support to the team that was there. He took the credit! Bryan might be effective in some ways, but he doesn’t understand the importance of giving credit. He’s aggressive and drives his employees too hard, but drive by the plant on a weekend-his car is never there!”
“Well Bryan certainly was visible during labor relations when the contract was due. He took on a public relations role to the community, and I understand he recently volunteered to give a presentation at our industry convention this fall. He’s been putting himself out there and all along he has made his ambitions clear” as Jason spoke, he started to realize that Bryan had been a much more formidable competitor than they had realized. Bryan’s name had come up in almost every conversation lately; he was clearly positioning himself for this promotion well.
“So now what?” Jason asked.
“I don’t know; I feel like I failed. Worse, since the opening was announced six months ago with the business growth, I’ve given so much of my family time to this job. And now I have to go home and explain it was for nothing? I don’t understand how this could have happened. But, I do think it’s time for me to move on. Clearly they don’t want to have a woman in that role.” Miranda quieted her voice as she entered the building. “We’ll talk later; I need to go see Kelly.”
Before lunch, Miranda sat facing the director of human resources, Kelly Morgan. Miranda took a deep breath and began, “I’m disappointed with Bryan’s appointment to vice-president of operations. I really felt that I had earned that promotion, I had no idea anyone else was even in the running that you would consider.”
Kelly took a moment before responding, the shock of what Miranda was saying registered on Kelly’s face. “Miranda, we recognize your hard work and team leadership. I think your team has always done well and works cohesively. You definitely are a great asset to this company.”
“Then why didn’t I get the job? I’ve been practically living here making sure that each supply contract is as strong as possible; I believe we will be saving up to 30% on cost of goods sold annually by the time we’re done. 30%! That’s bottom line savings to the company. Plus, the transportation costs have been skyrocketing across the country and I have kept it well below industry standards through the new distribution center and introducing the multi-pack systems for the customers. We know that customers are buying fewer products, but we are positioned to keep our costs down through our leasing arrangements. I have been the brains behind our great numbers, if we hadn’t controlled costs, we would have had price increases and lost market share. I deserve that promotion!” Miranda caught her breath and realized she had started to raise her voice. “I’m sorry, I’m just upset.”
“Miranda, I’m glad to see this passion and energy from you right now. I’ll be honest with you; your name was not even brought up when looking internally to fill the role. We announced the coming reorganization and specifically this new position 6 months ago. Several employees spoke to me about the qualifications required. Why didn’t you come to me then?”
Miranda was dumbfounded-to not even be considered! “I had been working so hard, I didn’t feel I needed to come to anyone. I don’t want a job because I ask for it, but because I deserve it. In my reviews I always spoke about being interested in new positions. Plus, I’ve been around the plants or our corporate office on the weekends or late nights, I never run into Bryan here. If I e-mail him over the weekend, it’s always late Monday before he responds. He’s not willing to put in the hours; I don’t want a job because I grovel for it! I want to earn it!”
Miranda stood up and headed towards Kelly’s office door. “Quite honestly, it appears that women have pretty limited opportunities with this company. I’m headed home; I need to figure out my next step.”
A few moments later, Kelly picked up the phone to the president’s office. “Bob, do you have time for lunch? I think we might have an employee consider a lawsuit against us.”
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