Since entering the automotive industry 25 years ago, Tom Butkiewicz has risen from shop technician to manager of operations for Mitsubishi Motors of North America. While completing his degree through Concordia University’s accelerated degree program for working adults, he created a customer satisfaction training program as a class assignment. The program was tested and adopted by Mitsubishi worldwide, leading to a rapid rise in the company’s independent ratings.
“My Concordia experience completely transformed me as a person, a manager and a leader,” Butkiewicz says. “Course after course, the curriculum is designed to be relevant to business professionals, to help us make good, strategic decisions in the workplace.”
Butkiewicz manages one of the three distribution centers that supplies automotive parts and accessories to Mitsubishi’s U.S. retailer network. On a recent day the warehouse in Cypress, California, was alive with forklifts and the sound of ripping tape as hundreds of parts were packed and shipped to retailers across the continent.
“People have to enjoy what they do day to day,” Butkiewicz says. “They have to know they’re contributing to something bigger to be fully engaged in their work. As a leader and manager I speak to the desires and expectations of each person on the team. If I can maintain a harmonious work environment and help people build on their strengths, we will continue to produce beyond expectations.”
When Butkiewicz decided to complete his bachelor’s degree, he chose Concordia University because of its academic excellence, Christian values and a nights-and-weekends schedule that accommodated his business travel. He participated in online class discussions during the week from various U.S. time zones, even Japan.
For his final capstone project, Butkiewicz took on a real-life organizational problem: Mitsubishi was near the bottom of JD Power’s customer satisfaction ratings. Butkiewicz concluded that the company’s retailer network needed better processes for handling customers who came in for vehicle maintenance and repairs. He presented his findings and proposals in class at Concordia, then did the same for senior management at Mitsubishi. They were so impressed that they created a pilot program which produced positive results. Butkiewicz then helped the company implement the program throughout North America and Japan.
Butkiewicz says success starts with helping people reach their highest potential.
In one year Mitsubishi jumped from nearly last to the industry average in JD Power’s customer satisfaction ratings. And in Butkiewicz’s distribution center operations, the news is just as good: surveys rank Mitsubishi’s operations among the highest in productivity and efficiency across various industries.
“I look for opportunities to capitalize on people’s strengths,” Butkiewicz says. “That’s how I went from having teams to having high-performance teams, and that’s how we’re able to get the success we’ve had at Mitsubishi.”
After earning his degree through Concordia’s Accelerate program, Butkiewicz earned a master’s degree and is in the dissertation phase of his doctoral degree. He now teaches as an adjunct professor at Concordia’s School of Business and Professional Studies.
“Concordia’s educational environment cultivates leadership by taking a real-world approach,” he says. “The instructors are proven professionals in their fields. They stimulate innovation and critical thinking, and challenge students to apply concepts and theories in the workplace. The knowledge I gained at Concordia provided a strong foundation for success in a global business environment.”