Bryan Williams and Raleigh Wunderlich: Empowered to Communicate with Truth and Respect

by Isabella Snider and Madison McCulloch

Raleigh Wunderlich started her quality assurance internship in early May 2022. She met and began working with Bryan Williams, a quality assurance metallurgist. The two quickly started building their collaboration style on a foundation of openness with truth and respect, one of Gerdau’s principles.

“We’re all just working in a team and teams are entirely dependent on communication,” Wunderlich says. “And so, if you don’t have that open and honest communication, things are going to get messy. They’re going to get confusing. Mistakes are going to happen. You’re not going to accomplish your goals.”

Having honest and respectful conversations improves the tasks Wunderlich and Williams do together, and listening to different perspectives and creating a positive environment is critical, as they often work with materials invisible to the naked eye.

“We bounce ideas off of each other,” Williams says. “I think more than she realizes.”

Being a new employee, Wunderlich brings a fresh point of view to the team, with innovative ideas she feels comfortable expressing because of the open culture the Quality Assurance Department has created. She also feels empowered to challenge ideas and offer different solutions.

Wunderlich in quality lab
Wunderlich is currently a senior undergraduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology studying material sciences and engineering.

“No one has the one right answer all the time, so you have to be open to changing your original thought process because it will be challenged by others,” Williams says.

Williams says it is also important to be open and honest with yourself so that you are able to recognize and admit your own mistakes. Through this, you can learn from those mistakes and grow.

A large part of Williams and Wunderlich’s success in open and honest communication is attributed to the respect they have for each other. The element of respect is the most important factor in their communication, Wunderlich says.

“You can be open and honest, but if you’re rude or disrespectful in some way, your feedback is not going to be heard. You’re not going to have that good team interaction,” Wunderlich says.

Williams and Wunderlich using microscope
Williams and Wunderlich often work with materials invisible to the naked eye, which is one reason why communication is so important.

The two agree that while communication is everything, it is nothing without respect. Disrespectful communication can create barriers between people – negatively affecting workflow and morale.

Communicating using openness with truth and respect is important outside of the workplace as well. This principle allows Williams and Wunderlich to maintain meaningful relationships in their personal lives.

Williams using scale in quality lab
Despite Williams staying busy with his job and family, he always makes an effort to keep lines of communication open with others.

“In my household we communicate everything,” Williams says. “We talk it out. We try to come to a solution and if we can’t, we wait on it and then we approach it when we can. It’s all about how much you value that relationship. And honestly, the way you approach situations ultimately determines how you really value those relationships.”

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