The Path Toward a Master Black Belt

November 3, 2021

by Cj Pettus

When Ibrahim Dukulay first earned his Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification, he didn’t intentionally set out on the path toward a Master Black Belt. More than a decade later, however, Ibrahim proudly achieved his Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification.

Around ten years ago, Ibrahim’s employer (at the time) issued a challenge for employees to improve processes in their department. His interest was piqued by the possibility of a cash prize, and Ibrahim took on the challenge. With limited formal continuous improvement training, Ibrahim mapped out his process, designed potential changes, and calculated the potential cost savings. His hard work paid off, and Ibrahim won the contest. But he didn’t take his cash prize and spend it on a vacation—he decided to take the next steps in his continuous improvement journey. At the recommendation of the company’s CEO, he registered for the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course from the University of Michigan.

Ibrahim completed his Green Belt certification and enjoyed the experience so much that he returned to Michigan to earn his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification several years later. With those two certifications, he was well-versed in Lean Six Sigma methodology, but he wanted to go even further. In his current role as the Director of Quality Management in a healthcare system, Ibrahim realized that he often needs to encourage or convince others to adapt and implement Lean Six Sigma tools.

“To actually convince others to deploy Lean Six Sigma within an institution requires certain skills. And I thought the best way to get those skills is through the Master Black Belt training,” Ibrahim said.

Taking the next steps on the path toward a Master Black Belt Certification was a great decision for Ibrahim. Although his Lean Six Sigma journey began when he worked in a completely different industry than he does now, he saw how the concepts could be applied across industries. He knew that the certification could help him bring the healthcare system he worked for to the next level.

“Initially, people thought this method of doing business was only for the manufacturing industry, but now, people see how useful it is in the service industry as well. Even though healthcare was slow to understand, once they grasped the importance of process management and how useful it is, they’re actually very much getting involved,” Ibrahim said.

Although Ibrahim has now earned all of the Lean Six Sigma certifications that Nexus offers, he isn’t done with the program yet. Before the pandemic started, he had plans to enroll several of his direct reports in the program. Those plans were delayed due to various factors, but he hopes to connect his colleagues with the program soon and to continue to successfully implement Lean Six Sigma strategies in the healthcare industry.

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