Part III – Leaning into a better way of working

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Since the rollout of Abtran’s Lean Transform programme in March this year, over 500 people across the company have received Lean Six Sigma training. As well as driving positive improvements and performance right across the company, the programme provides a fantastic platform for people to connect with teams outside their own business areas and to learn and develop new skills. In this blog post, Kevin Dilloughery tells the story of his journey at Abtran since joining the company in 2015 through to his role today as a busy member of the Lean Transform team.

I began my journey at Abtran in February 2015 as a Customer Service Advisor. During this time, I was given the opportunity to work across front and back office teams for one of the company’s leading Utility clients. Working in a customer focused environment really helped to build my communication skills and I enjoyed interacting with customers and receiving positive feedback.

In the Summer of 2016, I began exploring opportunities to progress within the company. Prior to joining Abtran, I had completed a four-year degree in Business Information Systems (BIS), in UCC and felt I could use my knowledge to further contribute to the business. I made my Team Leader aware of my interest and qualifications through my EDP (Employee Development Programme) and on foot of his recommendation, I was provided with the opportunity to participate in a six-month Enterprise Ireland sponsored Lean Plus project. This project focused on identifying and driving business improvement opportunities across two of Abtran’s Operations.

Admittedly, when I first joined the Lean team, I knew very little about Lean Six Sigma methodology. However, Abtran arranged for me to complete a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training course and I used a number of these tools while working with the team on the Lean Plus project, which went on to be a huge success, resulting in improved performance and efficiency in key areas of our business.

Following the success of our Lean Plus project, the next step of my journey was to be part of our company-wide Lean Transformation project. I was again given a great development opportunity to complete my Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification. Through this training I led my own business improvement project for the first time. Over the months that followed, I developed my communications skills even further by working closely with people from all levels of the Operation including Senior Management. I also gained an understanding of research and analytics tools, which was central to my project. I focused my project on the reduction of average handling times (AHT) in a back office environment. Since September 2017, an AHT reduction of 90 seconds – 20% improvement – has resulted from the project which really goes to show what can be achieved when Lean tools are applied, together with the focus and collaboration of great people.

I was also involved in the development of the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training material together with the Learning & Development team. From here, I was given the opportunity to deliver some of the Yellow Belt training classes. At the time, I found this very daunting as I had no previous experience of delivering a training class but, after completing the Abtran ‘Train the Trainer’ course I felt more than prepared. This course helped to build my self-confidence and provided me with an understanding of all the different learning styles while giving me the ability to communicate complex material to trainees effectively. Since the Yellow Belt training launched, I have delivered over one third of the classes and after lots of practice, I’ve now become very comfortable doing this and really enjoy the high energy of a class environment.

For me, the Lean training programme is really about helping everyone within the business to work more closely together by understanding and sharing the same language and business tools both to improve the way we work as well as providing a better service to our clients and their customers.

Looking back, I’m extremely grateful to have been given the chance to be a part of the Lean programme and feel that I’ve really developed my skills in the past 12 months and since finishing my degree back in 2012. Everyone here on the team makes coming to work a fun, fulfilling and perhaps most importantly of all, a rewarding experience.


Find out more:

To find out more about learning opportunities through Abtran’s Lean Transform programme, email the team at


More about Kevin:

Originally from Cork, Kevin has a keen interest in travelling and experiencing different cultures from around the world. As part of his degree programme in Business Information Systems, (BIS) at UCC, he spent six months working with PepsiCo in New York which he describes as a phenomenal experience which he thoroughly enjoyed. After graduating in 2012, he travelled through South East Asia as well as working for a short time in Sydney, Australia. In his own words, ‘Travelling through South East Asia was a life changing experience. Places like Angkor Wat (where Tomb Raider was filmed) and the Killing Fields in Cambodia were humbling to see, along with Halong Bay and the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. I learned so much during this time because travel forces you to go outside of your comfort zone to try new things, take risks, and to see the world from a very different perspective.