Here at CII, we really want to know our members. Sure, we could get along fine with just the basic networking events and community interactions but, we strive to be better than “fine”; we want to be a great community! To get to know each other better, we have CI Profiles. These member highlights will help us all get better acquainted, and allow us a peek into the lives of our CII DAM Good® members.

Get to know Maia in this short video and read on to learn more!

Joining us today is Maia Tichenor, Sr. Continuous Improvement Consultant at Evergy.

Maia, tell me about yourself! Where are you from? How did you end up at Evergy?

I am a first-generation American, born and raised in Topeka, KS. My parents are from the Philippines and moved to Kansas so my dad could work on his doctoral degree.  

I stayed in Topeka because I attended college and also worked locally. I graduated from Washburn University and, shortly afterwards, received a job offer from the local energy company, where I still work. I enjoy the community of Topeka and being able to travel anywhere in the city in less than 30 minutes. 

My husband was also born and raised in Topeka. My kids, Jacqueline (11) and Elias (1) are ten years apart. Jacqueline loves dance and recently started collecting fidget toys. Elias loves vitamin D milk and anything with wheels on it. His latest hobby is switching the lights on and off. Maybe someday he will also work for an energy company!  

My favorite part about what I do is the opportunity to build relationships with many areas across Evergy.

When you have free time, how do you like to spend it? 

I enjoy spending my free time making memories with my family, walking and running outside, home décor, and DIY projects around the house. 

Our latest completed DIY project is a craftsman-style board that I made from scratch with hooks that I installed in our mudroom. (Now we shouldn’t lose our car keys anymore.) A DIY project that’s in progress is the removal of all the flooring on our main floor. We’re hiring out the installation only.  

My favorite memory with my family is spending time with my immediate and extended family in Tennessee over the 4th of July holiday this year and going to the lake nearly every day. We stayed there for 9 days.  We had no cell service and truly got to disconnect. We even brought our dog, Bailey (a 2 y.o. corgi), with us. It was our first trip as a family of 5 (4 humans + 1 canine).  

Maia and Jacqueline sharing a silly moment

What is something that no one expects about you?

I consider myself to be very good at reverse parking. I reverse park as much as possible, including in my own garage. Everyday. Which also makes unloading groceries very efficient and easy! 

Tell me a little about your company and the role you have there. What do you like best? What are some things you would like to be different? 

I work in the Continuous Improvement Department at Evergy. I lead process improvement initiatives and help the project team members identify and implement ways to alleviate their pain points, reduce error, waste, and cost, and ultimately achieve more efficient processes.  

My favorite part about what I do is the opportunity to build relationships with many areas across Evergy. Many of the projects are cross functional, and through the lifecycle of the project, you really get to know people and form relationships.  

The only thing I would like to help improve is the overall mindset on making the decision to engage in a process improvement project. There are tons of changes happening company- and industry-wide.  Some people think they are too busy to improve their processes because they are too busy fighting fires every day. It seems like those that need us the most choose to shy away from the opportunity.   

What is one personal and one professional win you’ve had in the past year?

Personal win: I really leaned into slowing down and enjoying the simple things in life.  

This past year, I’ve learned to use a miter saw, read books about development, purchased over 10 different bubble machines, bubble refills, or bubble wands, made artwork with chalk, and mastered the art of finding outdoor picnic tables near the restaurant where we placed a curbside pickup order. 

Professional win: Building confidence in my role as I gained proficiency and became more comfortable (and better) at facilitating and leading project team sessions.

It’s been almost 2 years since I joined this department.  It has been a stretch for me to really exercise my leadership muscle (in a challenging, but good way!), but I have also recognized so much growth.  

My favorite leadership quote: “Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior.” -Brene Brown 

What are you most looking forward to in the next year? 

I look forward to traveling… starting with trips to Tennessee and California. I hope that Hawaii can make it onto the list!  

Our recent trip to Tennessee was to spend time with extended family over the 4th of July holiday. Our trip to California will be for the wedding of one of my closest friends since childhood.  

Maia and Family

What is something interesting that you have been involved with, personally or professionally? Why is it important to you, or what sparked your interest in it? 

Professionally, I’ve been involved with various types of mentoring, both as a mentor and as a mentee. Mentoring is important to me because it wasn’t until several years after I graduated college and entered the professional workforce that I realized the important of building a network, making connections, taking your own career navigation into your own hands, and advocating for yourself.  

This realization, along with building confidence, are largely due to the encouragement and developmental discussions from my mentors. I’m passionate about this and I am energized by the opportunity to empower other individuals to learn to navigate their careers and tap into their full potential.  

When choosing a mentor, I would recommend you think about how you felt after your interactions with a person, no matter how insignificant or brief those interactions may have been. Anyone that leaves you feeling energized or inspired would make a great mentor. And if you don’t know them well or have had very limited interactions, that’s even better! It’s a good opportunity to lean in and expand your network.  

As you find mentors and network with others, make sure to be intentional on reaching out to people that are diverse and different from you. You’ll be surprised on what similarities, differences, and curve ball pieces of advice you’ll get some having a diverse network. 

Thank you so much, Maia, for allowing us the opportunity to learn more about you and grow a little closer. Watch the short video Q&A to hear some more interesting things about Maia and enjoy some of the fun questions we asked her!

Author: Allison Greco

Author: Allison Greco

Founder, CII

I created my foundation with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and MBA from the University of Oklahoma. Over the past decade, I have held Continuous and Process Improvement roles for Black Hills Energy, Williams, the US Air Force and BNSF Railway. I’ve started new CI programs and reinvigorated stale ones. Along the way I earned a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and became a licensed Professional Engineer.