“As a kid, I had been fascinated with Caterpillar machines. The brand meant something to me even back then. As I considered my transition to a civilian career, I knew that I wanted my work to have the same sort of relevance and impact that it did in the Navy. It was important that I be able to take pride in the brand.”
Alex Leanos grew up with an aspiration to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. His grandfather, a WWII veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, had inspired him to serve in the military. After graduating from the Naval Academy, Leanos spent seven years serving as a Navy Diver and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer, culminating with a tour in Iraq in 2005. As he was preparing to leave active duty and contemplating what to do in the civilian world, it was the Caterpillar brand that first caught his eye at a hiring conference in 2006. “I accepted the first offer Caterpillar gave me. I began as a second shift supervisor and wound up spending 4 years managing production lines. During that time I also went back to school to get my masters in Mechanical Engineering,” said Alex.
Alex and his wife, Anne, who is also a Caterpillar employee, met in the Navy in 2001. Anne is currently deployed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, serving through November 2018. “Right now, I am a geographically single dad. I am always running from one thing to another. I truly appreciate the understanding and support that Caterpillar has provided. My team, my supervisor and co-workers, are extremely helpful and afford me the opportunities that I need to get things done.”
When Alex started his career at Caterpillar working in the factory, he says it was the best learning experience he ever had in how to deal with people. “I was exposed to a variety of leadership challenges. The Navy, and military in general, requires its leaders to inspire trust through their character and competence. But the shop floor is not the military, so I had to adjust my approach. Ultimately, if your values are squared-away and you take care of your people, you will do well. I enjoyed getting to know the men and women that worked on the line, and to get an appreciation for their backgrounds and work ethic.” says Leanos, who went on to explain, “At Caterpillar it is extremely valuable to understand what it takes to get things done, and what can go wrong. Following my time in Operations, I spent several years as an engineer on our dozers,.I kept in touch with some of the folks from the line, and if I had questions about a design I would consult with them. At one point, we brought several of the employees from the factory over here to the visualization lab in order to get their advice on how to negotiate a particularly challenging assembly sequence.”
Today, as a quality engineer, Alex spends his days differently, concentrating on identifying potential issues and working to stay ahead problems. There are a lot of players involved, and he spends time interacting with engineers, supply chain managers as well as suppliers and customers. Alex believes that customer satisfaction is critical to maintaining the Caterpillar brand, and he takes pride in his responsibility to see that our products continue to deliver on customer expectations.
“We make some of the most impressive machines on the planet. That is what brought me to Caterpillar. Every time that I get to see them being built in the factory I am reminded of how lucky I am to be able to work here. It feels meaningful, being able to solve a technical problem and then see it brought to life on a machine,” explains Leanos.
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