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Women in Manufacturing is a community created by Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) members and designed exclusively for women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry, and want to share perspectives, gain cutting edge manufacturing information, improve leadership and communication skills, participate in sponsoring programs and network with industry peers. Visit the Women in Manufacturing website.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

#WiMHearHerStory with Philicia Weaver, Director Global Initiatives at Blount International, Inc.

At Women in Manufacturing, we are committed to supporting women in the manufacturing sector. We firmly believe that mentorship and community-building will help attract and retain women in manufacturing.  As part of our mission, we feature on our blog the stories of women we admire who are currently working in manufacturing.  The following is the latest installment of our "Hear Her Story" series.

Philicia Weaver, Director Global Initiatives at Blount International
#WiMHearHerStory / @WomeninMfg

 
Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
I work at Blount International, Inc., a global manufacturer and marketer of replacement parts, equipment and accessories for consumers and professionals operating primarily in forestry, lawn and garden, and farming. We have more than 4,000 team members worldwide and sell products in more than 115 countries. 

As Director, Global Initiatives, I’m responsible for project management, change management and strategic workforce planning.  My job offers a lot of variety, which I love.  On any given day, I might be working on one of the company’s initiatives, facilitating a talent review, or training a team on change management. 


How did you arrive at your current position?  What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
I had worked primarily in the service industry up until about five years ago when someone I used to work with recommended that I apply for a position at Blount.  I started as the organizational development manager.  Two years into the position, I pitched the idea of creating a project management office (PMO) to accelerate the execution of our projects.  Blount’s CEO, Josh Collins, and president, David Willmott, agreed and created my current role.  I really appreciate working at a company where leaders listen to and support the ideas of team members.


At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for men.  Have you encountered stereotypes like these in your education or career and how did you overcome them?
Seeing is believing. I probably had the same stereotypes you mentioned before working at Blount, but it was only because I hadn’t experienced a manufacturing environment before.  I’ve been really impressed with the consistency of cleanliness at all of our locations.  Leaders want a safe, clean working environment for team members, and it shows. 

Although women are less represented in manufacturing than in the service industry, they hold positions in every part of our business.  In fact, when I pulled the data in 2014, I found that the largest number of female leaders at Blount were in these traditionally male-led departments: 1) Supply chain, 2) Finance, and 3) Manufacturing (HR was fourth).


Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if they have a mentor.  Has mentorship played any role in your career? 
Absolutely—I’m a strong believer in mentoring programs. In addition to participating in several of them, I’ve built mentoring programs at some of the companies I’ve worked at.  I’m also really interested in sponsorship programs and informal mentoring. 

In a sponsorship program, the higher-level person takes a more active role in the junior person’s career by creating developmental opportunities (e.g. attending key meetings, stretch assignments).  At Blount, we’re in the process of creating a sponsorship program for female leaders.  Our executive team are strong advocates for inclusion and developing talent, and this is just one way they live that value.

I use informal mentoring to learn about specific subjects.  For example, I’m currently interested in mindfulness in the workplace because the research on it is so compelling.  To learn more, I’ve been talking to people who have implemented it at their companies to see what works, what doesn’t, and the different forms it can take.


One of the key findings in WiM’s survey is that there is significant overlap between what young women want in careers and the attributes of careers in manufacturing today.  But the survey also found that, too often, young women are not aware of the opportunities available in manufacturing.  What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in modern manufacturing?
If you’re in a leadership position, you should always be recruiting.  Finding and nurturing future talent is the best long-term investment that leaders can make.  Here are some ideas:

·        Professional organizations—Whether you’re in engineering, finance, supply chain, HR, etc., there are several professional organizations in your field.  Going to events and networking not only builds your skills, but also gives you the opportunity to spread the word about career opportunities at your company.
 
·        Expand searches to the untapped job market—If your candidate pool for a job opening only includes those people who are actively seeking a job, you’re missing out on a very large population of great people.  Use social media (e.g. LinkedIn) and your network to find the best people for the job and encourage them to apply.  In the 2010 Harvard Business Review article, “Are You a High Potential?” a study found that “1 in 4 high potential employees believe they will be working for another company in a year.”  It usually only takes a nudge to encourage someone to apply for a job at your company.

·        Extend your recruiting timeline—If you wait for a job opening to recruit, you’re too late.  Building relationships with people, professional organizations, community partnerships and educational institutions takes time, but pays off with a much better candidate pool, including more female candidates.   

·        Signal your interest—Companies can attract more women by their actions.  For example, set up scholarships for women with schools in the communities you work in, have female employees make recommendations on company policies, show images and videos of female employees in your company materials (especially your career site), etc.  The McKinsey & Company study, Women in the Workplace, is also a great resource.


Our survey also found that the majority of women in manufacturing today would recommend the sector to young women considering career options.  Would you recommend a career in manufacturing?  And, if so, why? 
Yes, 100%.  The biggest reason is that manufacturing is a great field for women.  But there’s also another reason—I’ve done a lot of career coaching over the years, and one piece of advice I’ve given is to consider going “against the grain” to stand out.  For example, if someone’s Myers Briggs type is ISTJ (quiet, serious, thorough, and dependable), the typical careers they gravitate to are accounting, information services, etc., but what if this type went into sales?  Their customers might appreciate their listening skills and attention to details.  In other words, if they’re good at what they do, they could really stand out in a group of extroverts.  Likewise, women can stand out in a male-dominated environments because of the skills and perspective they bring.


Why did you decide to join Women in Manufacturing? How do you personally find value in WiM membership?
Blount strives to be an employer-of-choice for high performers and our senior leadership team has been steadfast advocates of attracting, retaining and developing women.  I have recently been asked to contribute to some of the work they’re doing, so I’m learning as much as possible about the topic.  When I was doing my research, Women in Manufacturing quickly came to the forefront for its data, education and networking opportunities.  I joined just last year, and I’ve already learned a lot.  I’m grateful to have an organization like Women in Manufacturing as a resource, and I’m looking forward to having greater involvement in the future.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

#WiMHearHerStory with Antonia Stone Purchasing & Facilities Manager at Busch Precision

At Women in Manufacturing, we are committed to supporting women in the manufacturing sector. We firmly believe that mentorship and community-building will help attract and retain women in manufacturing.  As part of our mission, we feature on our blog the stories of women we admire who are currently working in manufacturing.  The following is the latest installment of our "Hear Her Story" series.
 
Antonia Stone, Purchasing & Facilities Manager at Busch Precision
#WiMHearHerStory / @WomeninMfg


Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
As the purchasing and facilities manager at Busch Precision, I work remotely three days a week and am in the office two days a week. Every day is different, which is the challenge that I love. The duties of this position include the purchasing of a wide variety of things—raw material, outside services, shop supplies, office supplies—as well as coordinating IT services, being a member of production management, and working as an ISO quality section leader.

How did you arrive at your current position?  What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
I answered an ad for a “management trainee” at Busch Precision in 2000, and it was for purchasing, and learning how the entire company worked. This started my love of manufacturing, and learning everything about “making” and “doing.” I have had several other purchasing positions elsewhere, all in manufacturing, and came back to Busch after two years as a stay-at-home mom.

At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for men.  Have you encountered stereotypes like these in your education or career and how did you overcome them?
There have been several obstacles and stereotypes, but I have found that perseverance and a positive attitude go a long way. With patience, you can show your capabilities and desire to be in manufacturing.

Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if they have a mentor.  Has mentorship played any role in your career? 
Mentorship is key! I have been very fortunate to have had a mentor, and have been able to become a mentor. My current boss, Mike Mallwitz, the president of Busch Precision, has been instrumental in challenging and guiding me in different directions that I hadn’t previously considered. Through empoWer, WiM Wisconsin’s community outreach committee, I have been able to mentor several young ladies in the area and encourage them to consider careers in manufacturing.

One of the key findings in WiM’s survey is that there is significant overlap between what young women want in careers and the attributes of careers in manufacturing today.  But the survey also found that, too often, young women are not aware of the opportunities available in manufacturing.  What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in modern manufacturing?
This is exactly what led me to WiM, having attended the WiM SUMMIT in Milwaukee, and looking for more of the same programming locally. Through the encouragement and support of Mike (Mallwitz), we started an exploratory committee called empoWer in 2013 as part of TDMAW (Tool, Die and Machining Association of Wisconsin), to encourage and support women choosing careers in manufacturing. Little did we know that several other manufacturers felt the same way we did, and at this time we were in the process of starting the WiM Wisconsin chapter. In January of 2015, WiM Wisconsin and empoWer joined forces to better serve the manufacturing community, using empoWer as a committee for community outreach and mentorship, working with the Granville BID as well as the Milwaukee Job Corps to provide mentorship to young ladies in the Milwaukee area.

Our survey also found that the majority of women in manufacturing today would recommend the sector to young women considering career options.  Would you recommend a career in manufacturing?  And, if so, why? 
I would absolutely recommend a career in manufacturing! It is an ever-changing career path with limitless opportunities in many industries. It has enabled me to find work, life balance and flexibility, and to enjoy time with my husband and two children, George (6) and Shelby (3).

Why did you decide to join Women in Manufacturing? How do you personally find value in WiM membership?
I joined WiM to be a part of the local Wisconsin chapter, and now I currently serve as the chairperson of this chapter. In this role, I work with an amazing team of manufacturing women to run this state-based support network. We host several events throughout the year, participate in community outreach programs, and raise awareness of WiM and the opportunities available to women in manufacturing. The Wisconsin chapter provides incredible value due to the numerous networking resources. I have found that being a part of this national association has been very helpful to me in my career.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

#WiMHearHerStory with Irene Grabowski President at CAM Engineering LLC

At Women in Manufacturing, we are committed to supporting women in the manufacturing sector. We firmly believe that mentorship and community-building will help attract and retain women in manufacturing.  As part of our mission, we feature on our blog the stories of women we admire who are currently working in manufacturing.  The following is the latest installment of our "Hear Her Story" series.

Irene Grabowski, President at CAM Engineering LLC
#WiMHearHerStory / @WomeninMfg

Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
My job covers a range of areas. As the owner of a start-up company in aerospace composite manufacturing, I have the following responsibilities: sales, accounting, quality, research & development, HR, recruiting new talent, and strategic planning for not only the immediate future but also long term.

How did you arrive at your current position?  What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
I have been in manufacturing for over thirty years in various industries such as automotive, medical and now aerospace. I grew up in Michigan and manufacturing is a way of life for most. I got here through a series of visits to Georgia when I worked at a company that had a sister company here. It was part of my position then, to implement their quality systems for AS9100 and TS16949. While working on those systems, I met my husband and we launched our current business together in the aerospace sector here in Georgia. Prior to both of these I did consulting for quality, safety and environment in manufacturing, medical and laboratories, third party auditing for a registrar and held many jobs along the way, including running an insert injection molding press, that gave me invaluable skills. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Quality and Engineering which is ideal for the work I do in manufacturing.

At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for men.  Have you encountered stereotypes like these in your education or career and how did you overcome them?
There are still a few people out there that have the 1950’s thought that women have a place and it isn’t in manufacturing. I have worked for several over the years but stood my ground and proved that it isn’t just a “mans” world. I have also worked in the forging industry, aluminum injection and many welding shops, and I have excelled. I find it exciting to prove otherwise and to learn different industries.

Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if they have a mentor.  Has mentorship played any role in your career? 
I have had very few mentors along the way. I have a stubborn nature so if I was told I couldn’t do it, I did it! I went to community college using my vacation time so I could further my skills. I found a way to pay for my education so I could continue. I research and educate myself to get to the next level. I also looked up to many of my instructors in the manufacturing and engineering fields. I looked for top female business owners to hear them speak and learn how they got to that level of business owner, president, V.P. or director. I am a person that watches, observes and backs up what I saw with data. I think STEM is a great program and I think everyone should have a part in the STEM fields. More legislation should be in place that pushes schools and business to participate in STEM.

One of the key findings in WiM’s survey is that there is significant overlap between what young women want in careers and the attributes of careers in manufacturing today.  But the survey also found that, too often, young women are not aware of the opportunities available in manufacturing.  What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in modern manufacturing?
Having the right individuals and line of communication to promote what is available to young women. Middle and High Schools, vocational and technical schools, the chamber of commerce. Social media. There is so much that can be done in this area. Counselors, mentors and business professionals in the community talking to our schools so they can hear right from those in the field what is available to them.

Our survey also found that the majority of women in manufacturing today would recommend the sector to young women considering career options.  Would you recommend a career in manufacturing? And, if so, why? 
Yes. Manufacturing provides a way to use analytical problem solving skills, creativity, team building and improvements on a day-to-day basis. For me, I get a great satisfaction in knowing the products I have manufactured are of the best quality that are always improving, evolving and done in a safe manner. We look at how can we make it better and get involved with others to collaborate. To me, this is exciting!

Why did you decide to join Women in Manufacturing? How do you personally find value in WiM membership?
I joined to meet others in the industry to learn and grow. It is invaluable when we meet new people, learn new technology, get educated and can then come together to further share and make it even better.