Meet one of 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 honorees, Mike Eilers. Mike is a NSCS member who joined the organization through the chapter of Miami University, located in Ohio, where he graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering Management Minor in Supply Chain Management and was the keynote speaker for the school of engineering’s graduation ceremony. Mike is now the Digital Thread Leader at GE Aviation where he is contributing major changes that is helping the company move towards future.

Mike went directly into working with GE Aviation the next month after graduating college, which was June 2010, and has been a part of the team since where he created an innovative tool that saved the company $4.4 million and took the operations of the company to a completely different level. The tool he created is a digital industrial infrastructure that made communication of data much easier for everyone from executives to engineers by helping them easily pinpoint the location of an aircraft using GE’s LEAP engines anywhere in the world, identify the exact position in the engine of all CMC hardware, and link a specific part back through all stages of manufacturing and assembly to show any associated data- all on one screen.

Look into Mike’s life and how he ended on Forbes 30 Under 30 list below.

What was your first job?

I was a janitor at a local grocery store (Straub’s). I started working when I was 16 years old after school and during summers. I began with mopping floors and cleaning restrooms, to stocking shelves and then moved up to be a cashier.

How long have you been in your current position, and could you provide a brief overview of what you do?

I joined the CMC Digital Team over two years ago in December 2015; just a few months after the group was formed. As the Digital Thread Leader, my job is to locate data in all its various forms and sources, stitch it together and make it readily accessible for anyone working with CMCs. Over the last two years, our team has automated the compiling and stitching of data from dozens of sources to create a complete digital thread of data from initial raw material production, through all stages of manufacturing and assembly, to its exact location inside an engine in service.

How did you end up in this position? Did you always want to work in Aviation?

For the first several years of my career at GE in Production Control, I started each day by grabbing my clipboard and walking the shop floor to find parts. Every day was a scavenger hunt spent trying to locate parts, figuring out what needed to be done to ship them to the customer, and making sure we had enough parts in the line. Finally, I decided we needed better tools than a clipboard to track production, so I left the shop floor to join the new CMC Digital Team and to build something better. I jumped at the opportunity to join this team because we are focused on connecting the right data with the right people and leading the transformation into a Digital Industrial company.

I have always wanted to work in a high-tech industry that has a positive impact on the customers we serve. It’s hard to find a more exciting and innovative industry than aviation and I love working on the cutting edge of new technology.

What motivates or inspires you to work hard?

People all over the world rely on our engines to get their jobs done every day. Delivering engines for those customers motivates me to find new ways to produce parts and keep our engines running.

What has been a lesson you’ve learned while working at GE? Do you have any advice for other people?

Don’t be afraid to try something new. GE has been around 125 years because we are constantly innovating and learning as a company. We should apply this same principle in our own careers and never get too comfortable doing things the same way every day. For example, we all need to become familiar with new digital tools, the data lake and how our actions affect the quality of data we generate because it all becomes a part of the digital thread.

Worst advice you have ever received?

“Don’t go to the same college as your high school girlfriend”– That advice may be true for some, but I’m glad I ignored it. My high school sweetheart, Maria, and I have now been married for five years with two amazing daughters. I attended my dream school of Miami University in Forbes’ #1 ranked college town of Oxford, OH, while Maria captained the school’s varsity volleyball team. At Miami, I received the school’s highest academic award, made lifelong friendships, landed a fantastic job at GE and never second guessed myself.

What is your motto?

My mom used to say “Be strong, brave and make good choices” to my brothers and I every day before we left for school. It has stuck with me because it really takes courage and strength make the right choices and stick by them. Not everything has a right or wrong answer, but we learned to pick the best option and stick with it.

What is your greatest achievement?

Raising my two daughters, Johanna (2.5 years) and Layla (9 months). Becoming a parent has been the best, most rewarding and hardest thing I have ever done. I can’t believe how quickly they learn and how much they depend on us as parents to teach and care for them. Even if I get distracted by the daily firefights at work, I am reminded that how happy and healthy my girls are each day is my true measure of success as soon as I arrive home each day.

What is one thing you didn’t learn in college that would have helped you in the real world?

E-mail management. In college, e-mail was limited to infrequent class updates or sending in homework assignments. As soon as I hit the real world, my inbox has been flooded and it took me a while to find a strategy that works to manage the constant stream of messages. In the real world, seemingly everything is communicated this way and email etiquette is very important. Learning techniques to efficiently manage your inbox and how to appropriately communicate via email would be a useful skill to gain in college.

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