This post is a part of a series featuring OMEP’s board members – shining some light on the dedicated individuals who help OMEP to be successful. Read on for thoughts from Jean Ohman Back, Employment Litigation and Advice Attorney at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.
Jean Ohman Back
Employment Litigation and Advice Attorney
What is your favorite part about your job?
I love working with my clients and becoming their trusted advisor. I really enjoy being considered a part of my client’s overall strategic team and learning more about what they do and what keeps them up at night.
What caused you to join OMEP’s board?
OMEP is a great organization. I researched the mission when they were looking for a new Board member and asked me to join. The thought of helping Oregon manufacturers become stronger companies through the variety of consulting topics that OMEP offers seemed like a very worthwhile endeavor.
What are some of the largest challenges you see manufacturers facing?
I attended many of the manufacturing round tables last year that led up to the first OMEP summit. One issue I heard manufacturers talk about was the shortage of qualified employees who wanted to work from the ground up. The workforce has changed a great deal, with many young people choosing to go to college instead of into the trades. That resonated with me because I am an employment lawyer, and I have seen firsthand the complications that my clients have faced with a workforce that is decreasingly focused on skilled trades. Recruiting is more difficult, and finding and retaining quality employees is harder. Some of the other issues that manufacturers talked about included succession planning issues. These are also really important topics, especially for the small manufacturer. Another topic that manufacturers discussed was related to contracting issues with suppliers and clients.
How has your role as an OMEP board member affected the way you view manufacturing?
To be honest, I did not have a great depth of knowledge about manufacturing or the challenges that manufacturers face when I joined OMEP. I did have knowledge about legal issues, and my legal background has been helpful for the Board. I have learned a great deal over my time on the Board, and I continue to learn. It is fascinating to me. I look forward to the Board meetings and to working closely with my fellow Board members, many of whom are manufacturer owners or high level executives. Also, the work that OMEP does and the commitment of the whole team to the industry in Oregon stands out for me. I think that there are still a number of manufacturers who might be able to use OMEP’s knowledge to help them streamline their processes, increase their sales, and expand their overall profit through lean processes.
What is exciting to you about manufacturing?
Just learning about the processes, and seeing how lean concepts can be put into place to help manufacturers, has been exciting. Also, learning about all of the varied products that manufacturers produce, and how they produce them, is interesting. It has been a pleasure to serve on the OMEP Board and to assist Oregon’s manufacturing community.