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Alex Ramirez - Pushing boundaries in the name of progress

21/10/2019 - Oil & Gas / USA

Alex Ramirez is Vice President of Operations for Vallourec Tube Alloy in Houston. He brings his entrepreneurial spirit, thirst for challenge and enthusiasm for teamwork into every project he tackles. 
What has been your path to Vallourec?
I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering that specializes in manufacturing. I did international commerce studies that helped me open my eyes to think globally. I graduated from Instituto Tecnológico de Celaya in Mexico. Growing up in American, Mexican and German cultures from family links made me very open to a global perspective and how rich we can be when we mix different cultures together.

Tell us something most people don't know about you.
As a student, I worked in a company that made animal feed supplements. I was so successful to doing improvements, the owner trusted me to build a brand new manufacturing plant. For a student, this was a great opportunity and I learned there not to be afraid to fail in anything I have my eyes to do.
Also, in my early days during college and once graduated, I had my own company of textile goods, a small shop of eight people. I was able to create sleeping bags, backpacks and commando tents that I sold to the Mexican Army. This experience showed me to always find opportunities and make decisions to optimize and do the most with what I have.  

How does Vallourec keep you motivated to do your best for the company?
Vallourec allows me the freedom to make a big difference through earned trust.  It's rewarding to see we can propose ideas and improve the way we do things in Vallourec. 

What are some projects you have worked on?
The opportunity and challenge to build a VAM Threading Competence Center was amazing, creating an extraordinary team that took us to develop a sharing community of experts. Another great experience was creating an industrialization line with Vallourec Mexico in order to speed the knowledge of new products and make training material to help the community. This allowed us to support our R&D team with new, breakthrough processes for future VAM® products. Your track record shows that you have a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

How do you square that sense of independence with working within corporate constructs?

Yes, well, I do like to push the limits of what we can do. I think that even though we are a big corporation, we need to keep focused on making things simple and pragmatic. I encourage and empower my teams, always pushing to try their ideas and learn. We need to accept we'll make mistakes and take that fear of failing, always under the same condition: Don't ever give up!

What are your goals and outlook for the future?
At Tube Alloy, we repair threads and do accessories for customers within a 24-hour turnaround. We are very reactive and customer-oriented, focused on service (providing copper-plate, inspection and storage services), even as fast as we are looking for ways to reduce lead time and improve on-time delivery.
I want to support Vallourec value by extending services that help take away our customers' pain, be more efficient and consider us a partner on what they do. We can go beyond pipes and threads. The spirit at Vallourec Tube Alloy is so unique and creative, I have no doubt we will continue creating value. We have moved two plants and opened a new shop in the past two years. We've been shaking it a lot and starting to see the benefits we needed as part of the Vallourec transformation plan. We pursue aggressive goals without fear.

How important is multiculturalism for a successful career with Vallourec?
I think it's very important to understand other cultures. I travel a lot with my three kids. We know Europe, Africa, the USA. I want to show my kids that the world is rich, and everyone's experience in it — from the guy sweeping the floor to the guy in charge — have something valuable to share that we can learn from and apply to our lives. I cannot control the crazy things happening in our world today but I can control what I teach my kids. They speak three languages and have friends from all over the world… and they are all welcome in our house.
Also, since my kids spent much of there lives in Europe and now live in the US, they see how wasteful people are with food, fuel and packaging. They are a more environmentally-conscious generation. My kids helped me realize and challenge me to make a difference at the place where I work.

What piece of advice would you give someone starting out in their career?
First, be passionate about what you do, or get out of it. Life is too short to stay in an area you don't enjoy. Work very hard and never give up! Obstacles are there to make you stronger but not to cut your objectives or dreams.