Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gracias!

Thanksgiving. I could write a long note of cliche memories and expectations of this day, but I'm not going to this year. I'm thankful every day.

This year, this time, I was planning on being on the east coast. Today in fact. I spent countless hours researching relief groups, talking to contacts, and ready to lay down money for a flight. I asked two things in return; a ride to/from the airport and a 2' x 6' area to sleep for 4 days. I like helping. I helped after Katrina and it was life changing. It was such an eye opener and it felt reallly good. So in wake of hurricane Sandy I was ready to go help. With the horror stories still circulating about the event and the work that needs to be done, I wanted my help to count.

I'm sitting in Sheboygan Falls with my family today. I couldn't be more thankful to what I have come home to, but I still wish I could have had the opportunity to help out East. I talked to about 6 different people/organizations personally about me coming to help and I got 6 answers. We can't help you or you can't help us, we don't need you, or we already have enough help. After 6 tries I gave up.

I continued to watch the news and segments about the disaster relief. I laughed at the TV when they asked for help. No one wanted my help. A mid-westerner willing to give up my Thanksgiving celebrations and money to help those in need was denied on every attempt. My pity is gone. It is sad that I now think of all of New York as selfish, stubborn people. I can only help to think if I was in need, they'd book the next trip to Europe.

I have mixed feelings today. I have the best family a girl could ask for and I'm going to indulge in more food today than I should consume all week, yet my help was denied. It hurts.

Sometimes, you should accept help.

My professor told me on the day of my graduation; "Promise me one thing Berea. You won't be afraid to ask for help. Promise?"

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When God Closes One Door, He Opens Another

In four short days my life changes. I'm not turning a year older or leaving the country for good, I'm growing up, I'm graduating college. It won't be an instant change, but it will be a mark of adulthood. I apologize now if my attitude comes off as bragging, it is still sinking in for me. Only 30% of Americans have a bachelors degree. That's a minority! Anyways, I've worked hard to get where I am whether my personality shows it or not. I had plenty of sleepless nights, tears after tests, and doubts of finishing school altogether. I am proud of myself.

I have met many people that have influenced my life and the decisions I will choose to make in the coming years. I dove head first off the high dive and I'm just coming up for air now. My professional life has grown like a wildflower and I've learned SO MANY THINGS. Not only have I learned textbook material but real life lessons I will take with me forever. Probably more personal lessons than course material!

I was fortunate to be blessed with jobs throughout college that gave me more than a paycheck. They were all continual learning experiences I will likely never forget. 

The biggest blessing is that I'm walking off that stage Saturday with more than just a piece of paper. My coworkers asked me today what I want for graduation and I said I already have what I want, my job. It's surreal. It embarrasses me to no end talking about my job to those affected by the situation of our economy (jobless). I'm saying that here, hoping this is a safe environment that even if you hate me, you can yell at your computer screen and call me bad names but hopefully find a piece of happiness in your heart for me. 

I want to be a role model for those like me. I was an average student in high school raised in a lower-middle class family. Not to mention I am a female engineer. This is what I wanted and I was not going to let anyone tell me no, including myself. If you want something, go get it!

On that note, I have lots of thanks to give this Thanksgiving. I thank the US government for making it possible for me to take out loans to go to college. I thank my parents for everything really, but mostly for raising me to believe college was the only option. I thank them for keeping their doubts mostly hidden and supporting my adolescent decisions. I thank my dad x 10^100 for helping me find my career path and figuring out what I truly love. I thank my friends who supported me and tell me all too often how proud of their little nerd they are. I thank my classmates who pushed me to do better. I thank my adviser and role model who counseled me and watched me choke down tears in her office year after year, talk about an influential person. I thank my work study bosses who put a smile on my face every day, gave me confidence, treated me like their daughter, brought me good food, and listened to me complain about stress. I thank the people who doubted me, because you made me one of the most determined young woman at MSOE. Last, certainly not forgotten, I thank God. I thank him for keeping me company until those 2 and 3am mornings studying. I thank him for giving me perseverance to do what I want and the knowledge to somehow make it through.  

xoxo

Trust in the Lord with all your hearts, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Company


In the recent years, innovation and “green” practices have become two of the key phrases for companies wanting to capture the attention of consumers and imply their products and services are helping to improve the world we live in. A key factor in determining the future of our environment is analyzing the companies that use resources to provide power and automation. One of the world leaders in production and services of power and automation is ABB (Asea Brown Boveri) Incorporated. Not only do ABB’s marketing strategies illustrate success, but their financial statements, industry comparisons, and market growth.
About ABB
For a company that has been around for over 100 years, ABB has many accomplishments that set them apart from competitors. They have made it to the global list of Fortune 500 companies, operate in over 100 countries, and employ over 145,000 people. ABB was the first company to transmit high-voltage power, build the first three-phase transmission system, the first steam turbine, the world’s largest self-cooling transformer, combustion gas turbine, high-speed circuit breaker, and the list goes on. In other words, ABB has provided many of the technologies and core concepts that are underlying factors of society as we know it. 
Since ABB is such a large and encompassing company, their products and services are divided into five divisions; power products, power systems, discrete automation and motion, low voltage products, and process automation. Each division seeks to entice different markets and consumers with the most cost effective, innovative, and reliable products. A main reason of ABB’s success is the interaction between divisions that support their entity as a whole.
Industry
Power and automation is a broad term that although describes ABB well, does not provide a clear understanding of what ABB has to offer. In very basic terms, the power aspect of ABB includes using resources to generate electricity for residential to commercial consumers. After harnessing resources such as fossil fuels, natural gas, and energy, products are needed to convert these raw resources into usable energy, which ABB also provides. The automation side of the industry deals more with motors and generators and equipment that needs these things. An example of a product from the automation industry is the charging stations for electric vehicles which have made an increasing presence in today’s economy.
ABB makes the robots that paint luxury cars (such as Aston Martins), the transformers that supplied the 2012 Olympics with power, the generators that supply residential neighborhoods across the world, and much more. Since the headquarters are in Zurich, Switzerland, they are not as well-known across America yet pose large competition to companies more known in the states such as General Electric (GE) and provide many Americans jobs.
Measuring Success
For the purposes of investors and customers, companies usually do not publicize their failure to success or poor financial situation unless the media exploits it first. Therefore, most businesses like to convey the image of growth and financial well-being whether it is completely true or not. A good way to analyze a company is to do a financial analysis and look at their annual report history and compare data against competitors.
Competition
Innovation means creating products newer, better, and faster than competitors, but to do this, each company must know and understand who they are up against. Compared to industries such as retail or car manufacturing, power and automation is relatively new and consequently does not have as many businesses competing. In America, two of ABB’s biggest competitors are Siemens and General Electric. All three companies have overlapping products in power and automation.
Current Environment
A comparison of the net incomes of ABB, Siemens, and General Electric over the past 5 years can be seen in Figure 1. To understand why net income is used as a comparison, see equation (1).
Figure 1-Net Income Comparison
According to the 2009 annual report published by General Electric, 2008 was a horrendous year for the company. The rebound they experienced in 2009 was remarkable considering their prior year losses, but still shows extreme volatility. ABB showed little effect from the economic crisis in 2008-2009 maintaining a very firm net income position. Lastly, Siemens showed a slight offset in 2009 but was able to recover and continue increasing profits.
Another indicator of how a company is doing is to look at the finances from an investing point of view and the stock prices. Figure 2 shows the comparative stock prices of ABB (blue), Siemens (yellow), and GE (red) since 2008. Through research of news articles and company history, it can be inferred that the American companies are largely affected by economic activity and government involvement whereas for ABB, stock prices are largely influenced by product introductions, current events, and market share.
Figure 2- Comparative Stock Prices
The competition that Siemens imposes on ABB creates the perfect environment for innovation subjecting both sides to continuous improvement.
 Conclusion
Success in an industry is determined by many factors that come together to produce the overall best outcome for suppliers, consumers, investors, and employees. The continuous improvement and innovation occurring in the power and automation industry make competition fierce. ABB’s ability to keep steady financial numbers prove that key players are not willing to take risk that would cause decreased profits. As much as this can be a good thing in economic downturn, it also shows the lack of risk invested in increasing income as well. The financial future of ABB looks to be positive in the short term. Long term, financial hedging or complex options should be introduced with a larger presence to gain even better monetary outcomes.

Sources
"Financial Reporting : Investor Relations : GE." GE Annual Reports. N.p., 2012. Web. 05 Nov. 2012. .

"Google Finance: Stock Market Quotes, News, Currency Conversions & More." Google Finance: Stock Market Quotes, News, Currency Conversions & More. Google, 05 Nov. 2012. Web. 05 Nov. 2012. .

"Siemens - Annual Report 2009." Siemens - Annual Report 2009. Siemens, 2012. Web. 05 Nov. 2012. .

"The ABB Group - Automation and Power Technologies." The ABB Group - Automation and Power Technologies. Asea Brown Boveri, 2012. Web. 05 Nov. 2012. .

Monday, November 5, 2012

In the Moment

I am tired of figuring out who I am. I'm defined for being undefined. I can't tell you I'm a certain way when I most often fall in the middle. I started thinking about this because of my impatience. I seem to always have a countdown until the next big event in my life to motivate me. Does that mean I wouldn't be happy if I had nothing to look forward to? Does that mean I just get done with my daily activities to pass time? What happens when I'm not counting down to the next major event? If I knew myself so well, all my actions would be predictable and quite frankly, that would be boring.

I was startled awake this morning at 4:30 am by the most horrendous beeping, buzzing, screaming alarm ever. The fire alarm. I was confused, I thought I was dreaming. My roommate and I looked like zombies frantically roaming the house in chaos. You have a choice to make; hope it's a false alarm and wait it out, or evacuate. My instinct was to evacuate. I've heard one to many people say "it would never happen to me". I pulled my cat out from under my bed, shoved her in her kennel, and screamed at my roommate to leave with me. Clearly all these actions were over-dramatic in hindsight. I also grabbed my coat and purse. Looking back, I had all that I needed. After getting laughed at by my fellow neighbors for bringing my cat, sitting 1 step above sleeping, and about 20 minutes, we were given the okay to return to our apartments. The next 30 minutes of sleep I got before my real alarm waking me was not the last half hour of rest I wanted before starting my Monday. Needless to say our apartment was swamped with police when leaving for work.

November 5th marks the one year anniversary of my grandmothers death. A full year of holidays without her. It has certainly been weird at times. She was the closest person I have ever lost, I'm terrified of when it hits closer. I bought flowers tonight in hopes of making it to her grave, but when the sun set at 5 and the idea of sitting through rush hour set in, my heated blanket sounded better than wandering through a dark, cold, and wet graveyard. I'll make it out before the end of the week, it's the least I can do.

One week, four days until I walk the stage in celebration of my undergrad degree. It's such a big milestone, I can't wait for it to be official!

Tomorrow marks election day. November 6th, 2012. All I have to say is that at the end of the day we are "one nation under God".