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Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification passed by Oxford MBAs


A group of 49 MBA students from Saïd Business School have successfully passed their Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification. Lean Six Sigma is a methodology for cutting waste and improving efficiency within workflows. Made famous by the successes of Motorola in the 1980’s, its influence quickly spread beyond the manufacturing industry.

Professor Matthias Holweg (Black Belt) led the training, which is part ofthe Technology and Operations course, and improvement specialist Dr James Sullivan (Master Black Belt) examined the students. The group worked with a broad range of organisations as part of their certification, including the University’s Chemistry Department, Oxford train station and coffee shops around Oxford. The projects identified significant improvements in terms of lead-time, flow and operating procedures, as well as significant savings in terms of energy cost when running scientific experiments.

Jacqueline Heilman was among the students who passed the course. With ambitions to go into human capital consulting, Lean Six Sigma’s tools may not seem of immediate benefit to Jacqueline. ‘If you want to go into consulting and you have an operations certification’ she explained, ‘they like that. It shows you can think through processes, whether they are human capital related or manufacturing. Even if you never set foot in a manufacturing floor… it’s applicable to pretty much any industry you could go into.’

As well as working with organisations around Oxford, the groups were given classroom based exercises to help them see the benefits of the methodologies in action. ‘We did a really cool catapult exercise in class,’ recalled Jacqueline. ‘Matthias brought in actual catapults! While working in teams we were given a great opportunity to gain hands on experience reducing variation in processes. Six Sigma is all about reducing variation. Lean is an evolving methodology but the core is to reduce different wastes in your system. The two have been combined to create new industries standards.’


Matthias Holweg

Matthias Holweg View profile

Matthias Holweg is a professor of operations management at the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School.