Tim Jager, Project Director
What do you like best about working at DMC?
I have been with DMC for 12 years (last Tuesday), and as a consultant I’ve had the opportunity to visit hundreds of different companies. While our clients do exciting and interesting work, I have not come across any other company that I’d rather work for.
I enjoy the constant challenge of consulting. I like learning a customer’s product, system, or process and making it better, faster, and more efficient. Then I’m ready to move on the next challenge!
What drew you to DMC originally?
When I first interviewed with DMC I thought the engineering consulting concept was exciting, but I did not get offered the job as they had just hired someone the day before. When they called me back a few months later, I was excited about the opportunity to re-interview with DMC. DMC’s interviews these days are tough, but I was interviewed in a room with all 5-7 employees peppering me with technical questions at once. I didn’t understand that one of the questions was asking for an estimation answer, not an actual figure, so I bombed the question.
At the time I was working for another engineering consulting firm where my desk was very clean because it was boring and there was nothing better to do. I decided to do all the research to properly answer the DMC estimation question and sent it in a very long email with the recommendation to, “Please print this out and keep it with you at all times in case some jackass (or group of jackasses) asks you this during an interview.” It was kind of a test, and I guess I passed.
How has DMC changed since then?
Well as we have grown, DMC has moved twice since I’ve been here. Once was across the alley, and the next time was down the street to our current location. Most importantly, the strength of our team continues to grow along with our ability to recruit the best people. We’ve honed in on our recruiting strategies because we now know exactly what we are looking for and it goes beyond just being really, really smart.
DMC also has a huge focus on customer service. Our mindset has evolved from “solving tough technical challenges” to focusing on the customer. Our aim is to solve people’s problems and make their lives better.
What advice do you have for prospective DMC candidates?
The people who do well at DMC are true engineers at heart. They don’t separate engineering into what they do inside and outside of work. Aside from being smart and working very hard, engineering is a way of life for DMC employees and it shows in their list of extracurriculars.
Do you have any engineering hobbies?
I have always enjoyed tinkering with things. As a kid, I was always building things like go carts, taking them apart, and usually getting hurt in the process. Even though I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I’m equally interested in toying with the electrical side of things.
Lately, I built a sous vide system for cooking at home. It’s a means of cooking at a precisely controlled water temperature that is great for things like yogurt or any kind of grilling meat. I also learned a new technical skill in preparing for Halloween…sewing.
What else do you do for fun?
I play in a men’s hockey league, and I’m one of the youngest guys on the team. I played in high school, and although I’m not a great shot I am a good skater. I like the intensity of sprinting down the ice until you are exhausted. Aside from being good exercise, hockey is a great sport because working as a team and individually is equally essential. Some guys can get pretty rough, but I am the type of person to jump in and break up a fight.
I have three kids so hanging out with them is my life. We do all kinds of things, and I especially like teaching them to approach things like bugs, monsters, and the dark with curiosity instead of fear. They love that stuff – Halloween is a month-long event at our house.
What is your favorite place in Chicago?
The Museum of Science and Industry is incredible. You can tour an authentic U-505 submarine, listen to a whisper on the other side of the room in the Whispering Gallery, and control a 40-foot indoor tornado. It’s a really fun place for kids as well.
What has been your favorite project at DMC?
DMC worked with an automotive client to develop a flexible manufacturing system that could be used to assemble any kind of major automotive sub-assembly like engines, instrument panels, or center consoles. Their old system required someone to maintain it full-time in order to program it for any changes. We were able to develop a system that manufactures multiple components and the exact same code base is used on multiple production lines in multiple facilities. DMC’s system doesn’t require our help to reconfigure it; it can be changed directly from the user interface. It was a good feeling to take a complex system and develop one that is user-friendly and doesn’t even require our help for maintenance.
Creating software that stands on its own is an integral aspect of DMC’s philosophy. Rather than our customers being stuck with us, we aim to empower them.
What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
- A guiding principle of mine is “Make it better.” This applies to any situation, relationship, or project. If you consider a project from the perspective of owning it, it allows you to think ahead and anticipate future needs or how it will evolve. After experiencing a lot of project cycles over time, I’ve learned that thinking ahead helps determine how to make it better.
- Be nice and be understanding. I remember one situation years ago, in which I felt I had to be particularly forceful in order to win the business disagreement. I did win, but I learned that I had crossed the line of where I felt comfortable. Keep perspective of stressful situations, and seek to find solutions to challenging problems together.
- Work hard, but know when to use your resources. DMC has built such a power team, and it’s important to know what people are good at. There is something to be said for powering through an issue, but goals can often be achieved more quickly by leveraging collective resources.
Learn more about DMC's company culture.