Learn How This Belfast Native is Leading Big Groups of People Through Big Changes

Belfast-native Kristine Wentworth is Community Outreach Coordinator and Continuous Improvement Specialist with Mathews Brothers Company (America’s oldest window manufacturer!). Mathews Brothers has been in business in the Belfast area since 1854, employing over 200 people between their Belfast and Hermon locations. (Fun fact: Wentworth’s grandfather, Ashley Brown, worked at Mathews Brothers, too!)

In her role at Mathews Brothers, Wentworth leads large groups of people through big changes. For example,  she’s currently working on a project that encompasses the entire production team—over 200 people. The project? Implementing the hairy scary big audacious goal of a paperless workflow, changing the culture of the workplace. The project was initiated prior to Wentworth but had lost momentum. 

Wentworth is reinvigorating and leading the project by setting goals and communicating with stakeholders. How is she doing it? By focusing on communication and celebrating success, two lessons that Wentworth took away from the recent intensive Project Management program she participated in through the UMaine Hutchinson Center, with instructor Angela Wheaton.

“Communication is pivotal from the initial launch of a project to its completion,” says Wentworth. “It can make or break a project.”

Ensuring that she was effectively and transparently communicating with all the project stakeholders about the project is part of what made it work. In addition to their award-winning customer service, Mathews Brothers is a company that aspires to cultivate a family-like work environment, where everyone feels seen and recognized.

Wentworth and her team identified milestones as well as ways to make employees feel appreciated by being a part of this massive cultural shift at the company.

“Celebrating the success of a project ranges greatly from verbal kudos to physical gifts,” says Wentworth. “I strive to have a mix so that we are speaking everyone’s ‘professional love language’ in one way or another. One of the physical items we’re using for the paperless initiative is a t-shirt with a cheeky phrase on the back of it, fun phrases that indicate that the station the associate is operating is a paperless one. We find many people enjoy playful competition among the teams.” 

Substantive change can take time, however—Wentworth herself inadvertently brought a notebook to a meeting recently and was (gently) chided by her coworkers, who reminded her, “Hey, we’re a paperless company!” Mathews Brothers is pleased to be taking steps to reduce their ecological footprint—the paperless workflow initiative is one of many components of their plan to become a more sustainable company. 

The two positions Wentworth currently works at Mathews Brothers are new. Right off the bat, Wentworth identified that her work was project-based and that she would need to identify a process and project structure. Though she had some previous project management training, she recognized that additional training would help her succeed in these new roles so she reached out to her manager, who approved her participation in a project management training at the Hutchinson Center.

After seeing how helpful the project management training was for Wentworth, four of her colleagues then signed up—the COO, engineering director, IT director, and lean manufacturer manager.

In response to the question, “What advice do you have for anyone thinking about taking a professional development or continuing education program?” Wentworth readily replied, “Do it! I highly recommend continuing adult education. Learning is important. If your employer doesn’t already have a program in place, never hesitate to ask. Go to HR or your manager and find out how they can support your continuing education.”

More tips on finding support for professional development (as well as information on discounts and scholarships) are here.

One additional advantage Wentworth gained through participating in this program was connecting/networking. After the program wrapped up, class members found each other on LinkedIn and are continuing to share project ideas and cheer each other on.

Lastly, Wentworth reports that project management training is helping her take a more holistic approach to everything, including…renovating her bathroom!

Good luck with the renovations, Kristine. Your team is lucky to have you and midcoast Maine is lucky to have such a wonderful employer with a long history of building quality windows (and having fun while they’re at it).

To find out when the next session of Project Management is being offered, click here. Custom programs are also available—we’re happy to tailor programs to meet the unique needs of your company or organization. Learn more about custom programs here.