Industrial engineer Jean-Philippe Côté honed his skills in the process improvements key to his field during an internship in Turkey, where the human factor still plays a greater role than automation in manufacturing.
Back in Montreal, he leveraged his unique expertise to go from production planner at specialized parts producer Mecachrome to project manager at Bombardier, and on to CEO of BL Solutions Inc., one of Canada's fastest growing lighting solutions providers.
“You have to say ‘Yes’ to opportunities,” says Côté, whose more-than 15 years’ experience includes manufacturing, aerospace, pharmaceutical and lighting in small, medium and large businesses. At BL Solutions, he recently streamlined and rebranded the organization, emphasizing custom solutions with sustainable equipment. "The next challenge is hiring people,” says Côté.
Keys to success
“Curiosity, knowing my limits, not being afraid to ask for help, and staying informed and up-to-date.”
“When I was 30, I was asked to move a Bombardier production line out of Mirabel to Casablanca. My first opportunity to exert project management skills was a complicated, $5-million project, and it was delivered successfully, on time and within budget.”
“When I decided to go into consulting on my own. I had zero experience in prospecting or sales, so how do you start? It was nerve-wracking. I had a one-year-old at home and it was make it or break it.”
“Achieving expertise in various roles. It gives me perspective.”
The Concordia factor
“Camaraderie among students created lifelong bonds, even with students outside my faculty. Also, we handled manufacturing equipment in hands-on courses — how to use a lathe, a press, a milling machine. That experience gives you respect for the operators and an understanding that you’re part of the process.”
Fond university memory
“At a Canadian Society of Industrial Engineers competition in Halifax, working with Pratt & Whitney to improve production time, we worked all night while we could hear everyone else partying. We got third place — it was gratifying.”
“Sometimes the things you least like doing are the most useful.”