In December 2008, my partner and I received a email that started, “My name is Milan Duska and I am from Europe.” It was the first link in an adventure that has spanned two continents and almost two years.
Milan was seeking an internship at an American printing company within driving distance of Purdue University where his girl friend was studying as a Fulbright scholar. The host company would need to document a training agenda in order for Milan to qualify for a J-1 visa. For years we had considered pursuing ISO certification but we hadn’t had the resources to commit to it. With Milan’s background and experience in graphic arts we thought he’d be an excellent candidate to take on the project.
Knowing that we had 12 months, we started slowly. Milan became familiar with each area of the company with the goal to write work instructions or job descriptions for each position. Our intent was to give a Milan a thorough knowledge of Printing Partners so he would be able to develop our quality management system.
In hindsight we recognize that we handed Milan what must have seemed like a daunting task. But he delved into it with focus and drive. One of his first tasks was to get a library card and he spent hours at Central Library learning about ISO certification. At our Thanksgiving gathering in November 2009 Milan met a member of our extended family, Orlando Calzudes, who is a quality control manager and he agreed to help.
With Orlando’s direction Milan’s pace accelerated. He helped us navigate through the complexities of ISO standards. Even though his English was good, Milan was not fluent, but he worked hard to broaden his vocabulary. He achieved a milestone when he announced one morning that he had started to dream in English.
Milan had a goal and he relentlessly pursued it. On August 20 at the end of its final audit Printing Partners was recommended for ISO certification. Much of the credit goes to Milan, not for the work that he did, but for the leadership that he provided.
Everyone at Printing Partners enjoyed working with Milan and as we wished him farewell Wednesday people were genuinely disappointed to see him leave. He taught all of us by his example. He was willing to take the risk of an unpaid internship in a foreign country so he could travel with his fiancée. He worked well with people. And he recognized opportunity and he leveraged it to better prepare himself for the job market when he returns to Prague.
We thank you, Milan Duska. You helped Printing Partners achieve an important goal. And we learned much from you.