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Q&A with Industry Leader – Athena Rhae Bisnar

Athena Rhae Bisnar

Engineering Planning and Control Manager, Asian Terminals, Inc.

Asian Terminals, Inc. (ATI) is a Philippine Stock Exchange-listed port operator, developer and investor, and part of the port network of global trade enabler DP World, ATI’s strategic foreign shareholder partner. DP World is the fourth largest terminal operator globally. ATI provides comprehensive and reliable terminal and logistics services for cargoes and commodities across markets.

Working for one of the world’s largest terminal operators, continuous improvement is… continual. Uptime magazine had the opportunity to speak with Athena Rhae Bisnar, Engineering Planning and Control Manager for Asian Terminals, Inc. Athena is a catalyst of continuous process improvement, a leader in quality, and an asset management implementer.

The planning and control team, headed by Athena, was able to improve and develop enterprise asset management service (EAMS) management and utilization, equipment condition, and flow of work execution through the delivery of asset hierarchy, leaner reports generation, reliability-centered maintenance, and a competency-based learning program, and reengineered procedures of work order management and maintenance planning and scheduling. Currently, the team is focusing on the standardization of maintenance tasks in compliance with global engineering, data quality improvement programs, cost-efficient project management and long-term planning.

Q: As engineering planning and control manager, explain your role at Asian Terminals, Inc.?

As an engineering planning and control manager, it is my duty to drive continuous process improvement in the engineering division. My role also covers reliability-centered maintenance and condition-based monitoring, supports the asset management program’s implementation and manages effective maintenance planning through data analytics, quality control application, systems utilization and learning and development management.

Q: What is the aim of your work?

The ultimate goal is to attain and sustain an 80 percent / 20 percent distribution of planned and unplanned maintenance hours as a minimum performance measure.

Q: How did your career lead you to this point?

It happened one step at a time. First, my passion for quality and statistics started during my undergraduate years as an industrial engineering student. Then, I found my interest for the logistics industry when I went to Taiwan as an exchange student where I was given an opportunity to take maintenance reliability and global logistics subjects. The experience exposed me to the ideas of total productive maintenance (TPM), total quality management (TQM), failure rates, and such. So, right after my graduation, I only applied to quality-related positions in the logistics industry.

ATI is my first job after graduating and I started as a management trainee. ATI’s management trainee program is a six-month, operations-engineering intensive internship with the goal to provide analysis and proposals on areas for improvement. Using the define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) approach and various quality tools, I was offered the assistant manager (AM) for quality position in the engineering division.

While I was in the AM position, process thinking and 5S practices were successfully implemented. After six months in that position, the engineering division had a reorganization and I was assigned as the head of the planning and control department, where my previous function had to be integrated into the department’s existing objectives. Knowing that reliability is just one of the products of a quality work culture, reliability is a culture of quality.

Q: What is the culture of reliability within your organization?

The reliability culture in our organization is still very young. Key personnel are continuously being trained, existing processes are being reviewed and aligned with the reliability framework, and the reliability principles are currently being campaigned. The commitment from top management is helping us build on this culture. Maturity for a reliability culture will not happen overnight, but it will be surely attained with driven and committed individuals.

Q: What advice do you have for women who choose technical careers? Do you have any strategies to share for advancement in this industry?

My advice for all the women who have chosen technical careers is to keep an open mind and keep learning. Gone are the days when knowledge and skills were only available for men. Nonetheless, each gender has its strengths and weaknesses and the best way forward is to promote cooperation and supplement each other.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence or mentor?

My passion for quality has always been influenced by my professor in college, Mr. Henry Palaca. But, the one who has been mentoring me and guiding me in this reliability journey is my boss, Mr. Christopher Joe Styles.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Ten years from now, with the continuing explosion of data and advancement of technology, I see myself managing a team of data scientists who analyze data and develop solutions that promote reliability and efficiency of machine and workers.

Q: What is your “must read” book for anyone in this industry or in a similar role?

Not specifically for someone in the industry, but someone who is in a leadership position, I would say a must read is Start with Why by Simon Sinek. I highly recommend this to every leader who wants to have a team that is composed of purpose-driven individuals.

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