I was recently the Director of Manufacturing for company XYZ for two years.  I have for several years been a supervisor with other companies, and this was my first shot at the next level.  I was able to grow the area concurrent with increased sales: in all I increased output 625% in 12-months, while increasing my staff by 200%.  Responsibly growing the head count, with implementing Lean Manufacturing concepts was the key to the success.  I had a great team under me, about 35 people in all, and they each supported me as their manager.

Most of the drive behind the growth was a new product marketed with the DoD.  As we got the product into production I began to notice issues with the documentation.  Many things had to be changed and reworked.  Next, we began to fail government sign-offs of the product because it would not work long enough to pass field testing.

I've had years of experience working on government contracts, so I dug.  I came to learn that by the direction of our CEO, our Research and Development Department was cut short and the product was thrown into production.  Many Engineers protested that the design was not ready (many who did ended up getting fired for off-the-wall reasons).  I took the initiative and began to do clean-up on the back-side, correcting documentation while still advancing our production goals.  After 12 months of not getting paid for about 31 orders, the CEO began pegging Manufacturing for the problems.  I showed him e-mails from Engineers that no longer worked there saying the the design of the hardware and the electronics was not ready for production, much of the government's requirements for the systems had not actually been validated prior to selling and invoicing these products.

Few months later, we had a meeting about how I "was up here and our company as a whole is down here, I need you to stop trying to pull us six steps all at once."  A Senior Design Engineer, the CEOs favorite, had been complaining about me pushing back.  I told the CEO if they did not make changes, and change their way of thinking that they would fail.  I learned later that said Engineer, by the direction of the CEO, made false certifications to the government about of testing and validation of the systems (the government asked to see the data because they had failed the first items they received, the company in turn falsified documents to secure more orders).  So I backed off, but only slightly.  Truth be told, there was never any validation testing or any sort to ensure we met government requirements.

Several months later I had another meeting with the CEO where he accused me of being to cautious and protective (covering my butt), he then said, "Well, you are a bit prickly around the edges to start.  Plus, I have this feeling that you are sitting back watching us fail, and when its all over and done with, you're going to say 'see, I told you so."  My response was that I told him what he needed to do, and if he wasn't willing to listen to me, then why did he ever hire me.  During another meeting a fellow Director said that someone was either very incompetent or criminal because things were obviously ignored, the CEO responded that he wasn't worried about the governments requirements.

One week, this year, I was out for company paid training off-site for two weeks and there was a question from another manager of whether to ship a product with known faults.  A Project Manager and Planner, the CEOs brother, said yes.  I said no, and I was ignored.  I was very tactful when I got back, but impressed upon them the ramifications of their actions (jail, fines, etc.).  The next day, I wet to HR and requested a formal investigation into the matter.  Failure to resolve the issues to my satisfaction would result in the report being forwarded the DoD.  It was a, "get it together or I will be happy to whistle-blow."  I said I would go through the evidence, and have my written request on her desk by Monday.

Within hours I noticed I could not access my e-mail from home, and I was contacted to come in at Noon on a Saturday to deal with an employee who failed a drug test.  I went in, and the Director of HR fired me under the direction of the CEO, within 24-hours of my verbal complaint alleging government fraud.

Now, I have lawyer and we are working out the issues, False Claims and DoD Contractors Protection Law.

In the mean time I am working as a Technician with a new company making slightly less annually than I was as a Director, the pay difference is not that huge.  I've been trying to get back to my previous level of responsibility, but have not had any luck.

I cannot help to think that companies think that I got fired for performance issues, or constructively demoted, and how that will effect my future earnings if I do get back to my previous level of responsibility.  Any advise out there?  I can't help but to think that this will show a failure to advance on my part far into the future and may have killed my hopes of getting into Executive Management.

P.S. Company XYZ has not had any new orders in the first quarter of this year, and still have not been signed off on any items by the government on any of the 31 orders.  I believe they did get a Letter of Default on one order, and they have laid-off 50% of their workforce recently.  I'm sure my lawyers contact with the government is not helping future sales of this product line.  All employees were forced to sign a paper saying they were restricted from talking to me due to litigation concerns.

WarrenReilly's picture

 Hi Astva,

I am sorry to hear about your set backs. It is a shame that things have taken a wrong turn in your career. However the best thing you can do is excel with what you have. You may now have a set back but you can only work on the move forward from here. 

Start by considering what you can do within the company you are now with. Then look to your network for support in finding new roles. And build your network within your new company and your industry in general. 

Best of luck with the future,


TNoxtort's picture

 Sorry to hear about what happened to you. As I read your story, I could see what was going on, only because I face a lot of politics in my company too. I think big companies don't want to change, and they don't want to hear bad news.

Regarding your future, I'd network and see what you can do and hopefully people will get to know you.