Women In Manufacturing - International Women's Day 2019

20 Women in Manufacturing That Are Influencing the Industry

International Women’s Day is an annual celebration of the achievements of women all over the world. On March 8th, groups worldwide are celebrating this year’s theme: #BalanceforBetter.

A balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world?
Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

-International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme

Last year, Temboo celebrated International Women’s Day by highlighting some of the women making an impact in the IoT space. This year, we decided to feature women in the manufacturing industry, an area where women are often underrepresented. In fact, according to Deloitte, women make up only 29% of the manufacturing workforce.

As a company led and co-founded by a woman, Temboo is in a unique position to help forge positive visibility of women in industries where they are in the minority. Below, in no order, are our picks for some of the most influential women in manufacturing in 2019.

Influential Women in Manufacturing 2019

Barbara Humpton

Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA

Last year, Temboo’s Head of Product Outreach Vaughn Shinall had the chance to attend a fireside chat where Barbara Humpton spoke about IoT and the manufacturing space. As leader of Siemen’s biggest market, Barbara is well versed in the challenges and opportunities that are facing manufacturers today.

In an interview with Authority Magazine, Barbara shared her definition of success as being able to say, “We achieved what we set out to accomplish.”

It’s that simple for me. The first job of any leader is to have a vision for what can be accomplished and then set challenging, achievable goals with the team. Success comes when those goals are achieved.

-Barbara Humpton
Peggy Gulick

Peggy Gulick, Director Digital Transformation, Global Manufacturing at AGCO

Peggy has over 20 years of experience in consumer products and the manufacturing industry and leads initiatives at AGCO to continuously improve productivity, quality, safety, and cost.

Peggy shared with me why she likes working in manufacturing saying, “Manufacturing is on the cutting edge of technology.  With my undergraduate degree in IT, my role in manufacturing has allowed me to leverage new and often disruptive technologies in manufacturing operations, driving efficiency, safety, cost reduction and higher quality products.  If working with wearables, drones, 3D printing, robots and autonomous vehicles is not enough, in the end, I get to make things.”

She also shared her advice for women who are hoping to start a career in manufacturing:

As work organizations diversify, the manufacturing sector holds the greatest opportunity for women to add value by thinking differently.  If that is not enough, it is also our greatest chance to accessorize while working with Google glasses, bionic vests, smart watches and steel toed shoes 🙂

-Peggy Gulick
Justine Burdette

Justine Burdette, Vice President, Technical Services and MMTC-West Regional Director, The Right Place

Justine is the regional director for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center’s West regional office at The Right Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The center provides consulting and training to small and mid-sized manufacturers in the region and assist with activities that focus on growth and innovation, continuous (lean) improvement, quality systems, and safety and environmental initiatives. In a past interview, she shared her experience finding the right career path in manufacturing:

It took me a while to craft that ‘dream job’. With a lot of process of elimination thrown in! Without these experiences, I do not think I would be where I am now—in the right role, with the right organization, leveraging my capabilities for the right goals.”

-Justine Burdette
Feng Ying Wang

Feng Ying Wang, CEO & Vice Chairman of Great Wall Motors

Feng Ying Wang has been CEO of Great Wall Motors since 2003 and was listed by Forbes one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2018. Last year she shared that Great Wall Motors aims to double their vehicle sales by 2025 through increased electric and hybrid plug-in car production. In a past interview, Wang shared her strategy for success:

Always be different. In my view, the difference is also a competitive edge. So at the very beginning, a company has to carefully make a decision on positioning itself in the market.

-Feng Ying Wang
Karen Norheim

Karen Norheim, Executive Vice President at American Crane

Karen leads the team at American Crane, a manufacturer of overhead cranes and hoists. This year she won the Thomas Champion for Industry Award which honors distinguished leaders and managers in the manufacturing industry. She has dedicated some of her free time to the Women in Manufacturing nonprofit and also leads efforts to educated younger generations about the world of manufacturing.

I noticed a long time ago that I was one of the few women in the room. It is starting to change and shift. Here at American Crane, one of our biggest issues is [that] we just don’t get the [female] applicants. So I’ve really been trying to double down … [and] get the word out about us and our local community, and share this mission that we have [in order] to attract people to come and work for us.

-Karen Norheim
Stephanie Hendrixson

Stephanie Hendrixson, Senior Editor of Additive Manufacturing Magazine

Stephanie reports on all things 3D printing in the industrial space. She also edits and oversees production of the publication’s print magazine, newsletter, and more.

Stephanie shared her story of how she came to have a career in the manufacturing world saying, “I came into manufacturing by accident. At the time, I was just seeking experience in publishing—but I was fortunate enough to land an internship at Modern Machine Shop. I quickly learned how vibrant and dynamic the manufacturing industry is, and came to appreciate the positive role that the media plays here. Now as a writer and editor for Additive Manufacturing, I love the constant learning that’s required to keep up with changes in technology and to be able to explain them in a meaningful way. The real reward, though, is seeing how my work can help others. A well-presented story on my part helps a manufacturer or supplier get their message out to the industry, where others can benefit from it.”

She also passed along some advice for women looking to make a career in either manufacturing or journalism:

My advice for other women getting into either of these fields? Sometimes you have to be your own role model. Don’t shy away from something just because there are no other women in that role or space. If we are brave enough to do that and let ourselves be visible, we leave a path for others to follow.  

-Stephanie Hendrixson
Veronica Braker

Veronica Braker, Vice President of Operations, Performance Materials at BASF

Veronica leads a team of more than 600 associates across 18 operating facilities in North America. In 2018 she was honored with a STEP Ahead Award by the National Association of Manufacturers for her work. She is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Master Black Belt and has 25 years of experience in her field. In an interview for Women in Manufacturing she outlined her career into the industry saying, “I received my degree in Chemical Engineering. During my studies, I had the opportunity to intern with several manufacturing companies. I worked with Shell during my sophomore year, Proctor and Gamble my junior year, and Quaker Oaks Chemical during my senior year. I simply fell in love with manufacturing plants and the environment. I love the fast pace. I like to make changes and see the results very quickly. I have had the opportunity to learn and work with some amazing teams and people. There is nothing more energizing than working through an urgent and immediate issue with a group of highly motivated folks, or finally making a process improvement that addresses a decade-long performance issue.”

I always tell people to get a mentor and be a mentor.  Mentorship is so important.  I have had multiple mentors throughout my career, formal and informal.  They provide feedback, coaching, encouragement, challenge and support.  They keep you stretching!

-Veronica Braker
Allison Grealis

Allison Grealis, President of Women in Manufacturing

Allison is the founder and leader of the nonprofit trade association Women in Manufacturing. Her work helps support, promote, and inspire women who work in the manufacturing industry. In a past interview, she shared the story of how WiM got started saying, “We’ve been doing this work for eight yearsBack then, WiM was a little networking group with a handful of participantsToday, WiM is a national trade association with over 1,500 membersOur rapid growth is a reflection of the growing recognition that diversity in the workforce is importantBringing women together to focus on career advancement is an important part of the ongoing change we want to see in our industry.”

It’s important to note that not only is manufacturing good for women, but women are also good for manufacturingThe benefits to bringing more women into manufacturing are numerous, but here are two practical ones: First, as we all know, manufacturing has a significant skills gapTo fill it, we need to look at more than 50% of the population. Women must be recruited in every role to address our industry’s needSecondly, when there are more women in manufacturing companies and taking on leadership roles, we will see manufacturing companies grow and our industry as a whole thriveResearch tells us that when companies are more diverse, and when there are more women at the leadership table, those companies are more profitable.

-Allison Grealis
Elizabeth Barry

Elizabeth Barry, CEO & President, Delta Systems

According to her bio on the Delta Systems website, “Elizabeth guides our strategic vision, overseeing day-to-day management decisions regarding operations, expansion opportunities, new industry developments, and talent recruiting and development. She has been a Delta board member since 1995, and became president in 2005. She assumed the role of CEO in 2007. During her career, Elizabeth has received notable recognition for her leadership, most recently the Streetsboro Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Recognition Award in 2016. She was also recognized by Smart Business magazine in 2011, and she received the “Leading Edge Award” from Entrepreneurial Edge in 2010.”

Priska Diaz

Priska Diaz, Founder & CEO of Bittylab

Priska Diaz, M.S., is the Founder and CEO of Bittylab, which designs and manufactures the Bare® Air-free feeding system. Priska shared her story about how she started in the manufacturing world with me. She said, “After I designed and made several hand-made prototypes of my invention, I interviewed the top plastic and syringe manufacturers of North America (USA and Canada) and ALL of them told me my design was impossible to manufacture. That’s when I decided to infuse myself in the manufacturing world and travel overseas to lead the manufacturing of my product.”

I like solving problems that puzzle large groups of professionals. As a designer, that’s exactly what I was trained to do and through Bittylab, I have been able to solve several problems in several industries.

-Priska Diaz
Marillyn Hewson

Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President, & CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation

Marillyn joined Lockheed Martin as an industrial engineer 35 years ago. Today, she is listed at #9 on Forbes’ “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list and in 2018 was named #1 among the “Most Powerful Women” by Fortune Magazine. Since her appointment as CEO, Marillyn has positioned the company as being at the forefront of aerospace, security, and technology.

Good leaders organize and align people around what the team needs to do. Great leaders motivate and inspire people with why they’re doing it. That’s purpose. And that’s the key to achieving something truly transformational.

-Marillyn Hewson
Amy Feldman

Amy Feldman, Writer at Forbes

Amy covers manufacturing, industrial innovation, and consumer products for Forbes. She has had a expansive career in journalism with her work appearing in the New York Times, Barron’s Inc. and many others. She is a great person to follow on Twitter as well if you like to keep up with the latest manufacturing news and innovations.

I love stories that get me out into the industrial heartland.

-Amy Feldman
Kathryn Kelley

Kathryn Kelley, Executive Director of the Ohio Manufacturing Institute

Kathryn has over 20 years’ experience in program leadership and strategic communications at industry-oriented higher education, economic development and statewide technology organizations. As part of her current role at OMI, she produces the “Manufacturing Tomorrow” podcast which was named one of Temboo’s top manufacturing podcasts.

I asked Kathryn how she got started ad what she likes the most about covering manufacturing stories for the podcast and she said, “When I began working at the Ohio Manufacturing Institute over five years ago, I met with a number of manufacturers and industry associations while conducting projects. Each manufacturer’s story is unique, so providing a voice for their origin stories, their pain points and successes provides great fodder from listeners and readers to learn.”

“The work that OMI engages in to support the industry is informed by the research and manufacturing news that is gathered through industry trade journals and federal agency assessments, such as those from the National Institute for Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Program, the Manufacturing Institute, IndustryWeek and numerous trade publications.  First of all, we look to industry to determine what is of news to them, through the stories being told during interviews and focus groups or the Manufacturing Tomorrow podcast. Being able to synthesize and apply this information to support manufacturers effectively is the hallmark of our organization.”

She also shared her advice for women who would like to start a career in journalism or manufacturing, saying, “As someone who minored in journalism and eventually charted a path in manufacturing policy and programs, I have realized that an ecosystem of women exists in both fields who are more than willing to mentor those wanting to start their careers in either field. Women are change agents, whether they are on the manufacturing shop floor or reporting on major events that affect our livelihoods. Our perspectives provide strong contributions to a diverse workforce – we need to own that power at the workplace. That doesn’t mean that we can’t show our human side.  I recall interviewing Ashley Thompson, a Lima, Ohio manufacturing supplier of water bottles to Walmart.  She mentioned that some days, she is a great president but has to compromise with picking up pizza for her children; her struggles with balancing the executive-mother role was refreshing to learn.”

Women are change agents, whether they are on the manufacturing shop floor or reporting on major events that affect our livelihoods. Our perspectives provide strong contributions to a diverse workforce – we need to own that power at the workplace. 

-Kathryn Kelley
Mary Barra

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors

Mary was named #4 on Forbes’ Forbes’ “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list and leads one of only two global businesses that has no gender pay gap according to the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality. When she was appointed CEO in 2014 she became the first female CEO of a major global automaker.

She told Esquire about her start at GM at 18 years old saying, “My first job at General Motors was as a quality inspector on the assembly line. I was checking fits between hoods and fenders. I had a little scale and clipboard. At one point, I was probably examining 60 jobs an hour during an eight-hour shift. A job like that teaches you to value all the people who do a job like that.”

What I always say is, ‘Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership of it.’

-Mary Barra
Jill Jusko

Jill Jusko, Senior Editor at IndustryWeek

Jill covers strategies and best practices in manufacturing operations leadership for IndustryWeek. From her biography, “Her coverage of operations excellence spotlights companies who have achieved world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates The IndustryWeek Best Plants Awards Program and Conference, which annually recognizes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.”

Julie Austin

Julie Austin, CEO of Swiggies

Julie is an inventor with a NASDAQ-winning product that is sold in 24 countries and manufactured in 3. When asked how she got started in manufacturing she told me, “I never set out to become a manufacturer. I invented a product and was just going to license it to another company. Right before we were set to sign the contract they went bankrupt. I decided since so much time had passed, that I didn’t want to waste any more time finding someone else to license it and I became a manufacturer, even though I had no idea what I was doing. I literally had to learn along the way and luckily didn’t make too many costly mistakes.”

She also shared why she likes manufacturing, saying, “I like having total control over my product. I like traveling to the factory and overseeing the whole process. Manufacturing is a combination of engineering and creativity. Seeing the final product all put together is wonderful!”

Don’t be afraid of being the only woman in the room because many times you will be. It’s still very much a man’s profession, but I’ve never had anything but support from men who welcomed women into the industry. Ask questions and learn as much as you can from them.

-Julie Austin
Sherrika Sanders

Sherrika Sanders, R&D Director at Authentix, Inc.

In 2017 Sherrika was a recipient of the “Hidden Figures of Dallas: Top Women of Color in STEM” awards from the National Society of Black Engineers DFW chapter. During her nine-year career with the Dow Chemical Company, she helped create a recruiting engine called Building Engineering and Science Talent at Dow which continues to attract minority candidates. She also is a career coach for students studying in STEM fields at her alma mater of Xavier University.

In an interview she did with Women in Manufacturing, Sherrika explained how she thinks we can spread the word to women about career options in modern manufacturing saying, “First, we should take advantage of unique opportunities to introduce and expose girls to career options in STEM and modern manufacturing earlier in the pipeline.  As I mentioned, it was a high school science camp that sealed the deal for me early on.  Secondly, success breeds success.  As simple as it may seem, we should look for opportunities to make those women who have been successful in manufacturing more visible to other young women.”

In corporate America, I have certainly noticed that men are typically viewed as a better fit for certain jobs over women.  I overcame this bias by first changing my own mentality about these jobs, and subsequently planting the seeds of change with everyone I interact with.  Regardless of my gender, my focus has always been on performing well in my current role because this is what best positions you for future opportunities.

-Sherrika Sanders
Aneesa Muthana

Aneesa Muthana, President & Co-Owner of Pioneer Service, Inc.

Aneesa leads Pioneer Service, Inc., a certified woman-owned and operated small business that provides precision machine parts. She was awarded the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Award for excellence in manufacturing in 2017 and has spearheaded efforts to educate the public about understanding the vital nature of what manufacturers do.

In a post for the National Association of Manufacturers, Aneesa shared her journey to where she is now saying, “Fate came for me, as a young woman of 23, in the form of divorce. My uncle threw me a lifeline, offering me a position in his new small machining company. I was practiced in my field and had already spent years managing other businesses, so instead, I offered to share leadership of Pioneer Service. He agreed. Not because I was a woman, not because I was his blood, but because I had already proven capable and I was eager to prove myself.”

Manufacturers are makers. The process of bringing people together to MAKE something that will go on to serve a bigger purpose is where my passion lies. Knowing that the parts that leave my shop are contributing to the world at large, touching lives, and benefiting people fuels my passion.

-Aneesa Muthana
Donna Chambers

Donna Chambers, CEO & Founder of SensaCalm

The idea for Donna’s hand-sewn custom weighted blankets arose from a personal story that she shared with me: “I started my business in 2008 when my grandson was diagnosed with Austim. A friend of mine told me about the therapeutic benefits of weighted blankets for children with his condition, but I couldn’t find one I liked in terms of quality and price. So a friend and I, through trial and error, created our own in the quilting room of our church.”

“The weighted blanket was so effective in calming my grandson, I hired a few local seamstresses to help me make more blankets for my community. Very soon, I had my own online store, which has since evolved into what SensaCalm is today – a go-to shop for sensory products, including high-quality weighted blankets.”

When asked what she likes the most about working in manufacturing, Donna said, “SensaCalm started as a small homegrown business, and I love being able to bring that level of care to the manufacturing industry.  Our business still lovingly crafts each weighted blanket in the USA with materials we believe in.”

She continued, “Manufacturing is a multiple person operation, which I also value. SensaCalm allows me to spend every day working with people I truly cherish.”

Don’t go into manufacturing unless you are building something you really believe in. SensaCalm grew out of a very personal need, and I don’t know if it would have been such a success otherwise. Manufacturing businesses that thrive are manufacturing businesses that offer a solution. Know what gap you are filling before you try to enter the highly competitive market.

-Donna Chambers