Enabling your organization to exceed expectations

Welcome

Christopher D Burns
In all relationships, both professional and personal: 1)  Start with empathy.  2)  Listen carefully.  3)  Consistently deliver on your commitments.  4)  Enjoy lifelong partnerships.
Welcome to my personal website!

Please look it over and send me any feedback - both about this website design and the contents. I am new at this, so any advice is appreciated!

Where we have been:

For over 40 years, I was part of a wonderful organization, Packard Electric, which had a stated goal of "Providing value to society at a profit". The method of achieving that goal was to imbue (in every one of us who had the privilege of working there) a corporate culture called "Excellence - Exceeding your customer's expectations". I started working at Packard a few days after graduating from high school, when it was a division of General Motors. In those early years I had valuable co-op work sessions in a variety of departments, while I was attending General Motors Institute. Nancy and I met at GMI and shortly after graduation, we married and started our family. It has all been good.

After graduating from GMI, I was able to apply my passion for science, math, and engineering in interesting and worthwhile projects as an engineer at Packard. Later in my career, I was privileged to lead some very talented engineering teams that provided innovative, cost effective solutions for customers in the automotive, commercial vehicle, and agricultural industries.

Around 2000, GM spun off our division and it became part of Delphi Corporation, along with other GM parts divisions. For the last few years of my career at Delphi, in addition to my engineering leadership position, I served as the recruiting lead for the co-operative student program at Kettering University (formerly GMI). I was pleasantly surprised and honored when I was named the recipient of the Charles F. Kettering award in April 2017, from the CEIA organization for the work we did with our Kettering student programs.

This past June, I chose to take an early retirement from Delphi.

I am very grateful for the many colleagues, managers, and customers who took the time to listen to my ideas and gently, but firmly, mentored and guided me along the way. I loved the people at Packard Electric - the teamwork and camaraderie was very special. I learned so much from so many people and Nancy and I developed lifelong friends. We will forever cherish those memories and relationships. Leaving was a difficult decision, but we are ready to transition to a new place.

Where we are now:

This summer, Nancy and I are enjoying a nice break from work. We have never had an extended vacation in our 38 years of marriage, so this is a pretty good time. Vacations, travel, family time with our children and grandchildren, hobbies - it's all good stuff. We have learned that we actually get along pretty well 24/7 - at least, she hasn't kicked me out of the house - yet! :)

While we contemplate what is the long term plan, I have agreed in the interim to do some part time consulting work with a group of former Packard colleagues, now at Alpha Performance Group. It's a chance to renew some old acquaintances and gain some new experiences. I am looking forward to the challenges and learning opportunities.

I have also received some intriguing job offers with some other companies in the familiar space of automotive supplier, and I have to make some decisions shortly about what to do next. Last, but not least, my exposure over the last several years to young people just entering college and the workplace has been very enlightening. I am amazed at how this generation of young people are eager, mature, enthusiastic, and talented. And they are far more connected and technology savvy than prior generations, especially ours! I believe there is a bright future for America as this next generation of leaders develops and solves some of our society's toughest problems. During my last few years at Delphi, I came to realize that my passion for engineering and science is now being complemented by a passion to help others develop and grow in their careers.

So, I am now also considering transitioning from industry to higher education, where I hope to use my experience and knowledge to help universities better prepare their students for the workplace and organizational success.

Where we are headed:

In a few more years we will eventually decide enough is enough and will retire to Ludington, Michigan, where we plan to build our dream home in a neighborhood in town on a small corner lot, we purchased last year. It is an ideal location for us - a neighborhood in a beach town that we have vacationed at for over 35 years. We will be five short city blocks from Lake Michigan and the city beach, and an equal distance from the downtown area. A perfect location for us in our retirement years.

We have been working with an architect to finalize plans for a medium 1.5 story cottage style house and hope to start construction in about 3 years. That gives us plenty of time to detail everything, find the right builder, and realize some lifelong dreams!

Decisions - decisions. "Semi-retirement" might be a short lived event. :)

Achievements

  • Advised small and large organizations and mentored individuals in all stages of their development.
  • Published circuit protection guidelines for automotive wiring systems. Adopted by major OEM's.
  • Charles F. Kettering award from CEIA, Global Leader of Excellence from Delphi, President's Council A
  • Received certifications including Six Sigma Master Black Belt and Lean College.
  • Consultant for Alpha Performance Group
  • Masters in Systems Eng., Masters in Business Administration, Bachelors in Electrical Eng.
  • Limited-edition achievement recognizing early members of Workfolio
  • Expertise in Microsoft Excel, System Modelling, Large Organizational Dynamics
  • Circuit Protection & Sys Engineering - Delphi and GM, Basic & Adv MS Excel - Kent State University.
  • 2 patents https://www.google.com/patents/US5023752 https://www.google.com/patents/US4834670
  • Circuit protection, vehicle E/E distribution system, electric vehicle and autonomous driving.
  • General Motors / Delphi: Co-op student, engineer, supervisor, dept head, manager, director.
  • Last 6 years at Delphi resulted in 80% growth in revenue and over 240% growth in operating income.
  • Over 400 endorsements on LinkedIn and over 500 connections.
  • Attended CEIA recognition ceremony in April 2017 to speak about future of co-op education .
  • During career at Delphi had up to 18 direct reports managing over 1,000 engineers and designers
  • Various positions in different churches in Ohio and Michigan. Currently a Stephen Minister.

Timeline

  1. -
    Director, Alpha Performance Group

    I have agreed to do some part time consulting work with some long time colleagues from the early days at Packard.  

  2. -
    Director, Delphi, DEEDS North America

    I was responsible for all engineering teams for electrical / electronic distribution products for customer vehicle programs in North America

    • Achieved significant new customer vehicle program wins and directed successful product / program launches
    • Revenue grew during this 6-year period by +80% ($2.5B) │ OI improved by +240%.
    • Customers included Tesla Model 3, Chrysler Minivan, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Titan, GM Full Size Trucks, many other programs.
    • Directed +1,000 engineers in Mexico, US │Managed $100M budget (Pgm Mgmt, Product Eng, Mfg Eng.)
    • Responsible for developing future Chief Engineers and product leaders 
    • Trained engineers on principles of Excellence and exceeding consumer expectations
    • Multiple workshops on improvement methodologies, including agile program development, new IT tools, Excellence culture, etc.
  3. Charles F. Kettering Award, CEIA

    I represented my team in accepting an award from the Cooperative Education & Internship Association (CEIA) for work we did as an employer, recruiting co-op students.

  4. 2016 Kettering Co-op Class Welcomed

    We conducted another 3 week Delphi orientation program for the second class of 10 Kettering Co-op students (class of 2016).

  5. Birth of Walter

    Helen gets a brother!

  6. Delphi Global Leader of Excellence

    I received an award from Delphi for leadership excellence in my North America region.  This is the highest individual award that Delphi provides to only one person in each region annually.  I was very honored to receive this recognition.

  7. 2015 Kettering Co-op Class Welcomed

    I developed and conduct a 3 week Delphi orientation program for the initial class of 9 Kettering Co-op students (class of 2015).

  8. Creatively Connected Worker Workshop

    I planned and then conducted a week long workshop for 150 people in Troy, Michigan, where we rolled out innovative information technologies, including new software, hardware, and cloud services, to creatively connect our workforce in the US and Mexico.  The workshop included multiple guest speakers from academia and other industries, who provided valuable insight and knowledge.

  9. Birth of Helen

    We become very proud grandparents!

  10. Wedding anniversary of Rachel and Brad

    We celebrate the addition of a very special son-in-law to our family.

  11. -
    Director, Delphi, Global Advanced Engineering

    I was responsible for all advanced development innovation efforts across all regions and business units.

    • Directed 250 Advanced Product, Material, Process, Test & Validation engineers – US, Europe, Asia
    • Automotive News PACE award winner in 2010 – halogen free 0.13 mm² cable
    • Initiated and directed innovative and complex wireless charging systems development.  Developed collaborative relationships with Witricity and major OEM customers, including applications that ranged from 5 Watt consumer devices to 6.6 KW Electric Vehicle charging applications
    • Restructured engineering teams during 2008/2009 automotive recession and then was responsible for successful turnaround by rebuilding all teams in 2010.  Resulted in increased capability upon emergence, setting the foundation for significant business growth during this decade
  12. -
    Senior Staff Development Engineer, Delphi, North America Core Engineering

    I led problem solving and continuous improvement activities as a Six Sigma Master Black Belt.  I coached multiple project improvement teams, using science, computer modeling, and statistical data analysis.

    I was responsible for the development of an industry leading, customized computer software and a global database system to deliver innovative system designs as part of a new engineering operating system.

  13. -
    Master of Science in System Eng & Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    I received a corporate fellowship from GM/Delphi to attend an executive level program at MIT, where I received a Masters as part of the Systems Design Management program (a joint effort by the Engineering School and the Sloan School of Business at MIT.)

  14. -
    Assistant Staff Engineer, Packard Electric, Bussed Electrical Centers

    Along with Marty Zofko and Merrie Lee Soules, I was part of the initial management team to develop a new business unit at Packard Electric - Bussed Electrical Centers.  In a few short years, we pursued, won, and launched with multiple customers, many product programs that grew this business to become a very profitable enterprise with over $200M in annual sales.

  15. -
    MBA, Youngstown State University

    I received an MBA going to school in the evenings, while working full time.

  16. -
    Supervisor, Packard Electric, Packard International

    I led a new team that pursued Toyota business in our international group.  We collaborated with Toyota engineers to jointly develop next generation architectures for Toyota Camry and HiLux vehicles.

  17. -
    Supervisor, Packard Electric, Application Engineering

    I managed a team of engineers that developed E/E architectures and system designs for several GM vehicles.

  18. -
    Senior Engineer, Packard Electric

    I was the lead application engineer for designing the electrical distribution system for several GM vehicles.

  19. Birth of Eric

    The girls get a brother!

  20. Birth of Stephanie

    Rachel gets a sister!

  21. -
    Engineer, Packard Electric

    I worked in the advanced and application engineering groups, developing new products for various customer programs

  22. Birth of Rachel

    We celebrated becoming parents!

  23. Wedding Anniversary

    Married my best friend - Nancy Kuyk.  

    Best (and easiest) decision i ever made!

     

  24. -
    Bachelors of Electrical Engineering, General Motors Institute (Kettering University)

    I was in the co-op program with General Motors at the Packard Electric division.

Skills and Years Experience

  • Customer Pgm Management
    20+
  • Cross Functional TEAMWORK
    20+
  • Product Engineering
    20+
  • lean manufacturing
    20+
  • Global Team Dynamics
    17
  • SIX SIGMA Problem Solving
    15
  • Coaching
    10
  • College Campus Leadership
    3

A Few Numbers About Me

  • 1,000
    Engineers Previously Responsible for
  • 18
    Engineering Leaders on Prior Staff
  • 15
    future Young leaders Previously mentored
  • 9+10
    Kettering CO-OP STUDENTS 2015/16 class sizes Hired
  • 4+2
    Children and Grandchildren Currently Cherished
  • 1+38
    Spouse / Best Friend and Years Together

Q and A

What is your operating philosophy?
I see no reason why some people cannot be excellent at both technical leadership skills (engineering and problem solving) and also in managerial skills (running a business and inspiring people). I see all organizations (businesses, educational institutions, churches, and clubs) as nothing more than incredibly complex systems - where the people and the goals of the organization are the main elements of the system. I have found that the same techniques that apply to solving engineering system problems (focusing on the critical interfaces between the elements), can also be used to improve organizational systems.

Lately, organizational system design has been far more interesting to me - mainly due to the challenges of understanding and addressing the relatively less predictability of people's motivations and thoughts, when compared to electrical and/or mechanical system designs.
Why did you choose your profession?
I wanted to blend my aptitude in math and science, with a desire to help others develop and grow.
Who were your main influences?
Far too many to list, but here are four. 1. My 7th grade science teacher - Leonard Tropea. He unleashed my curiosity. 2. My first MIT professor - Dr. Edward Crawley.  He opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about complexity and how to develop and manage complex systems, including teams of people.  3. My best boss at Delphi - Doug Gruber.  He showed me what true leadership and Excellence is all about - He practiced Excellence, Everyday, and with Everyone.  4.  Simon Sinek - He is an inspirational and thoughtful speaker and guru, very relevant to the world today.  I reflect often on his messages and insight.   Several of his ideas are principles that I have on my latest pyramid model.
What tools do you use?
There are so many. Here are just a few.

  • An Excellence culture that focuses on the customer (Tom Peters)
  • Systems dynamics (Jay Forrester and John Sterman)
  • 2x2 matrices (Alex Lowy), Statistics
  • Structured Problem Solving, and PDSA cycle (W. Edwards Deming)
  • Temperament theory (David Kearsey)
  • Active listening and Communicating with CARE (James Laux).

All of these principles are part of a pyramid model, that I created to help explain to others what I am all about.  The pyramid model is a set of top 16 principles that I have found to be true throughout my career. I occasionally update this model, as I discover new ideas and get to try and prove them out.
What are you passionate about regarding work?
I want to help higher educational institutions better develop undergraduate and graduate students, so that they are more readily accepted and influential in the workplace. There is a win-win there that needs to be realized as soon as possible.
Describe your greatest accomplishment.
While my work life has been long and prosperous, it pales when compared to my personal life. I have been blessed with a wonderful marriage and have a great, loving family.

But at work, I have really enjoyed recruiting and developing young people, as part of a comprehensive co-operative education program in industry.
What are you working on right now?
Enjoying a brief hiatus from work, finishing the architecture and design of our dream home for our future retirement, and contemplating what will be our next steps, until that day arrives a few years from now.
Who are your favorite fiction authors?

I am constantly reading - books, newspapers, magazines, and web sites. I read far too much fiction (but it helps me to mentally escape).

I am an avid fan of:

      1. David Baldacci
      2. Lawrence Block
      3. Tom Clancy
      4. Agatha Christie
      5. Michael Connelly
      6. Catherine Coulture
      7. Arthur Conan Doyle
      8. John Dunning
      9. Janet Evanovich
      10. Joanna Fluke
      11. Sue Grafton
      12. John Grisham
      13. John Lescroart (my favorite)
      14. Debbie Macomber
      15. Phillip Margolin
      16. Steve Martini
      17. Sara Peretsky
      18. John Sandford
      19. Andy Straka
      20. Scott Turow
What non-fiction books would you recommend to others?
For general insight about past and current events:

  • "Giant of The Senate" by Franken.
  • "Thank You For Being Late" by Friedman
  • "The Fifties" by Halberstam

For ideas about how to lead organizations and make better decisions, here are just a few suggestions:

    1. "No Problem" by Lowy
    2. "The Power of the 2x2 Matrix" by Lowy and Hood
    3. "Start With Why" by Sinek
    4. "Leaders Eat last" by Sinek
    5. "In Search OF Excellence" by Peters
    6. "Gaining Control Of Your Life" by Bennett and Smith
    7. "Please Understand Me II" by Kearsey
    8. "Language in Though and Action" by Hayakawa and Hayakawa
    9. "Sytems Architecting, Creating and Building Complex Systems" by Rechtin
    10. "The Art of Systems Architecting" by Rectin and Maier

Proudest Accomplishment

Being happily married to my best friend, Nancy.  Without her, I would be adrift.  :)

RECOGNITION Highlights

  • 2017 Charles F. Kettering Award
    Cooperative Education & Internship Association, Inc
  • 2016 Glen Hall Mentoring Award Finalist
    Delphi
  • 2015 Delphi Global Leader of Excellence Award
    Delphi
  • 2014 MIT Global Organization Lab Project
    MIT
  • 2013 Creatively Connected Workforce Conference
    Delphi
  • 2010 PACE Award Winner - Halogen Free Cable
    Automotive News
  • 2000 Corporate Fellowship to MIT
    General Motors / Delphi
  • 1998 President's Award - Design Excellence Award
    General Motors

CERTIFICATION Highlights

  • 2006 SIX SIGMA MASTER BLACK BELT
    DELPHI / AIR FORCE ACADEMY
  • 2002 LEAN COLLEGE
    DELPHI

Community SERVICE

  • STEPHEN MINISTER (2014 - PRESENT)
    ORCHARD LAKE COMMUNITY CHURCH, PRESBYTERIAN
  • CHURCH DEACON AND TRUSTEE (2005 - 2011)
    Niles First Christian Church
  • CHURCH ELDER (2000 - 2003)
    WARREN CENTRAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH
  • SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER (1989 - 1992)
    St. Rose Church
  • PRE-CANA MARRIAGE PREPARATION (1980 - 1985)
    St Rose CHurch

Hobbies and Interests

  • PHOTOGRAPHY - LANDSCAPE AND PORTRAIT
    Canon 7dii DSLR and Apple 7+ iPhone
  • COMPUTER HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE
    Microsoft WIndows and OFFice 365                                   ADOBE LIGHTROOM