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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.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

#HearHerStory with Hannah Kain CEO of ALOM

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.
 
Hannah Kain, CEO of ALOM
#HearHerStory / @womeninmfg
Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
I love my job as the CEO of ALOM. Every day is different; almost every day is fun and interesting. I can use my personal strengths and hire excellent staff to cover my many weaknesses to ensure that we stay true to our promises. My job is about alignment and making sure that we always have the very best people executing great strategy. I also have the pleasure of being on several boards, including National Association of Manufacturers, WBENC and Watermark.
 
How did you arrive at your current position?  What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
I have worked in several manufacturing companies – some small and some very large. It gave me the opportunity to appreciate the joy of creating great products in the smartest way possible and with excellent quality. Supply chain has been a fascination since childhood and that is frankly before supply chain was a common concept.
 
At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for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?
Yes, I have had to overcome stereotypes and prejudice. When it happens, I focus on not becoming a victim; I simply move on. I have found that – over time – the bigots are the losers and the victims of their own prejudice. As an example, I encountered prejudice from a possible supplier, and they lost what developed into more than a $10 million contract. I believe it is dangerous to underestimate other people. When prejudiced business connections have underestimated me, it rarely has worked out to their advantage.  
 
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 was in politics early in my career and learned from being around great leaders. I have also learned from people I worked with. I learn from my staff and other business leaders every day. Learning and curiosity are part of my DNA, and it needs to be for any business leader who does not want to be left in the dust. I also have had a personal coach for close to 15 years.
 
One of the key findings of WiM’s recent 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?
We need to talk about the satisfaction of building products that help people and that do good. We should talk about the difference you can make in manufacturing; making it sustainable and supporting middle-class jobs in the community and changing the workplace into a place of satisfaction and personal fulfillment. We should also talk about different career options and show the modern work environment. Our jobs truly are not about shoveling coals into a hot furnace, but about use of technology, collaborating and creating.
 
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 believe women can and should have great careers in manufacturing; many young women believe that only humanities lead to personal satisfaction. I have found that creating products and getting them in the hands of consumers brings great personal satisfaction; it requires team-work and often global collaboration, as well as ingenuity, knowledge and vision. Not to mention that manufacturing jobs are well paid. We still need to convince parents and counselors that it is a great choice.
 
 
 
 
 
 



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Smart Girls Change the World

President of Women in Manufacturing, Allison Grealis (on left), stands with 2014 WiM SUMMIT student attendees.
How Smart Girls Change the World
By: Allison Grealis
Posted: September 1, 2015
 
It’s 2015 and it’s cool to be a smart girl. Young women are growing up with ideas that they can do anything they want to do, be anyone they want to be, and that they can change the world. What a concept! Seeds of success are planted at a young age, but is anyone telling girls how they can change the world? What are the steps they need to take to achieve this? Are there any?
 
 
I’m a huge fan of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, an online community that encourages women and girls to: “Change the World by Being Yourself.” And I’m a huge fan of that motto because there are no steps to success concretely outlined here. Just ‘be yourself’. Sounds simple enough, right?
 
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. ‘Being yourself’ oftentimes doesn’t come as naturally to us women as it should. To reach success, we often believe that we need to follow someone else, or do something the way it has always been done. This way of thinking reiterates stereotypes that boys like math, science and history and that girls like writing and art. It is widely believed that for women, following this safe path to success is both fulfilling and fail-proof.
 
I, however, work in an industry that’s largely male dominated. The manufacturing industry is about 73% men and 27% women. Obsolete stereotypes and expectations hinder the growth of female participation in the sector and further contribute to the gender gap. Although the manufacturing field provides innumerable opportunities for women, it is often overlooked as a career option. This is why I started Women in Manufacturing (WiM), an organization that supports, promotes and inspires women in this field.
 
I have met the most intelligent and inspiring women through WiM and they excel at what they do because of who they are. They are themselves. They are engineers, scientists, programmers, operators, technicians, just to name a few. These women love what they do and they are changing the world by showing girls that they can do the same.
 
Women who pursue their passions, and pave the way for others to do so, are smart girls. We’re proud to host Meredith Walker, co-founder of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, at our WiM 2015 SUMMIT in Minneapolis, MN, this fall. This national event attracts women from around the country for professional development and networking opportunities, as well as relevant keynote speakers and panel discussions.
 
When fellow smart girls—or in our case, smart women—get together, their influence and inspiration is infectious. We can’t wait to see how our current generation of smart women will impact the next. This is how smart girls change the world.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#HearHerStory with MaryAnn Wright Vice President of Engineering & Product Development at Johnson Controls

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.

MaryAnn Wright, VP of Engineering & Product Development at Johnson Controls
#HearHerStory / @womeninmfg
Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
I have the best job at Johnson Controls! I lead the Power Solutions global engineering and product development organization.  We design, manufacture and sell batteries to power today’s vehicles, as well as advanced vehicles that are starting to hit the market.  Johnson Controls is the world’s largest battery manufacturer with more than 50 plants worldwide and technical centers located in the U.S., Germany, China, Brazil, Mexico, India and Korea. Our team, made up of some of the brightest and most passionate engineers, scientists and technicians, comes to work every day committed to making the best batteries for our global customers.
 
I don’t have a “typical day”!  As the group vice president of engineering and product development, I now “make work” rather than “do” the work.  By that, I mean my role is to develop the technology strategy aligned with our business priorities, set the technical direction of our products and then ensure our engineers have the resources they need to go execute on our strategies.  The team is then set free to develop the specific product development plans to ensure we meet or exceed our customers’ expectations.
 
The other part of my job is equally, if not more important than what I described earlier.  Building the next generation of technical leaders to accelerate the growth of Johnson Controls and maintain our position as the global technology leader in energy storage solutions is a major focus.  We want to be the company of choice for graduating engineers and scientists, and have a career track to meet their aspirations that is aligned with their values.  While every company has a management track, Johnson Controls also offers a well-defined and meaningful technical leader career path.  Our Technical Leader Career program gives people with critical technical skills the opportunity to progress in level, compensation and status as an individual contributor -- similar to their management track colleagues.  This allows us to recruit and retain people who want to “perfect their craft”, while ensuring they have the same recognition as a traditional career trajectory.  We are having great early success and excitement around this program!
 
How did you arrive at your current position?  What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
I have been in the automotive industry since 1988—a long time! I have had the opportunity to work for excellent companies and enjoyed experiences which took me around the world, and across many disciplines and functions.
 
I started my career at Ford Motor Company in finance, and from there had assignments in product planning, quality, product design and launch, and as plant engineering manager. I eventually became the chief engineer of the Ford Escape Hybrid, the first U.S. HEV and 2005 “Truck of the Year”.  I then became director of sustainable mobility technologies, where I was responsible for our Hybrid, EV and Fuel Cell Vehicle programs.  After leaving Ford, I helped a bankrupt automotive supplier through their Chapter 11 process and then had the very fortunate outcome of joining Johnson Controls as the vice president and general manager of the advanced battery business.  I have been with Johnson Controls for eight years in several roles, with my present assignment being the best! I love technology, being around smart engineers and scientists, building the next generation of technical talent and of course, delivering products which are the best in the world.  
 
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?
After being awarded the STEP Ahead award (what an honor!), I wrote an OpEd on the GE Idea Laboratory entitled “Lessons from Moondog – How Women can Succeed on the Shop Floor”.   The point of this article was to dispel the myth that working in a plant isn’t for women.  To be perfectly honest, the time I spent working in our plants were the richest.  My teams and I learned how important good design is to ensure our products can be manufactured repeatedly and with high quality. We also built relationships with the people who assemble the vehicles on the line.  Believe me; they have as much passion as the engineers and management to make high-quality products. 
 
The environment is so different from when I started my career.  Today, the diversity of gender, cultural background and thought is so much greater in the plants, and in the offices where products are designed. The key to being successful ANYWHERE you choose to work, is to have the technical, leadership and cultural acumen required to do the job.  If you have the capabilities, the opportunities are abundant across almost any industry and discipline. If I had a daughter, I would absolutely encourage her to pursue a STEM-based degree and career path.  Engineers are what make the world work and bring innovation to life! 
 
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 believe that everyone, regardless of gender, needs champions and advocates throughout their career. I am not wed to a formal mentoring program, but would say you should seek out people you respect and who have the leadership and interpersonal skills you would like to build or enhance.  The type of support you need will change as you mature throughout your career. You may also have specific situations, where you need support now to help position you for success.  The key is to have a clear understanding of what skills you need to enhance, rather than looking for someone to help you achieve the next promotion or job experience.
 
One of the key findings in WiM’s recent 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?
I have a lot of passion around this topic! We must engage girls and sustain their interest at a much earlier age, and then ensure they are encouraged and inspired as they go through their middle and high school experiences.  We are losing girls early and it is very difficult to recapture them in college as they haven’t maintained a passion for STEM-based academics.  I love the STEM camps, robotics and other programs that are proliferating across the country.  These are the types of activities that introduce girls to the limitless opportunities in engineering and manufacturing. Get them early, sustain their interest, nurture with experiences and role models and they will find their way to these jobs.
 
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? 
Absolutely! When I encounter a good engineer, I know that I am working with an excellent problem solver.  STEM-based education leads to great critical thinkers and idea-to-market leaders.  Some of the best leaders I know are engineers because they use their disciplined thought process to organize and execute on their projects.  For women, the world continues to open up with opportunities to be the next generation of technical AND business leaders. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Foley & Lardner Guest Blogger: Monitor Financial Distress in Your Supply Chain

Monitor Financial Distress in Your Supply Chain
By: Ann Marie Uetz and John A. Simon
Posted: August 25, 2015
 
While American manufacturing has experienced a resurgence in recent years, some manufacturers continue to face challenges. Witness for example the recent chapter 11 filings of Colt, Boomerang Tube, and Everyware Global. Sometimes, manufacturers struggle because a supply chain partner—a major supplier or customer—is struggling. In order to manage supply chain contracts, manufacturers need to watch for early signs of financial distress in their customer or supplier base. Then, they may quickly react to red flags and garner an advantageous position.
 

Trouble in the Supply Chain?

Manufacturers should watch for supplier requests to increase prices or accelerate payment terms. Similarly, cash-strapped customers may ask for financing support. In addition, a manufacturer’s deteriorating market position, failure to effectuate cost reductions, and changes in key management positions all may indicate financial distress. Manufacturers should employ tactics in order to secure continued supply when faced with a financially troubled supplier. By managing contracts after identifying a troubled supplier or customer, manufacturers can often mitigate risks, or even improve their positions.

Manufacturers should prioritize, understand, and address troubled supplier situations with advance awareness. That’s why companies should continually analyze their contracts to maximize leverage, and understand available legal options. To alleviate the pressures of financial distress, manufacturers should exercise common law and statutory remedies in order to purposefully tweak standard terms and conditions of new contracts (or negotiate changes to existing contracts). The terms of these contracts significantly impact the manufacturer’s ability to re-source production to a healthier supplier, recover tooling, and utilize certain remedies.

Use Remedies Strategically

Common effective remedies include requesting adequate assurance of future performance under section 2-609 of the Uniform Commercial Code or considering a contract repudiated by the supplier. If a customer files for bankruptcy, there are time-sensitive steps to follow to reclaim materials of finished goods supplied within a short window of a bankruptcy filing. But manufacturers must act quickly or potentially forfeit rights and opportunity.

Of course, contractual terms have a significant impact on each party’s lien rights, setoff rights, and the ability to terminate contracts. Furthermore, contractual terms affect whether a contract is considered an “executory” contract in bankruptcy, whether it is integrated with other contracts, and the impact of this on the duty to perform in bankruptcy. You may be able to take control of those issues. By recognizing a troubled supplier or customer, you can probably renegotiate the terms in your favor. There are, not surprisingly, risks to manage along the way. Through understanding these risks and remedies available to you and a bankrupt company, manufacturers can protect themselves from the powerful tools that a customer or supplier can wield in bankruptcy.
Foley & Lardner is a proud supporter of Women in Manufacturing. Content from their blog, Manufacturing Industry Advisor, written by fellow women in the manufacturing sector will be posted sporadically. 





Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#HearHerStory with Erica Wiegel President at Aro Metal Stamping Co., 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.

Erica Wiegel, President at Aro Metal Stamping Co.,Inc.
#HearHerStory / @womeninmfg
 

Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
With a new business there is no such thing as a normal day... yet.
 
How did you arrive at your current position?  What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
It’s always been a part of my life. My grandfather, father and brother are all engineers. I spent summers in the shop, along with weekends at work with my dad. I attended Northern University where I received my engineering degree.  From college, I started working full-time in the family business.  My brothers and I have tripled my father’s business.  We equipped the company with state-of-the-art technology and robust systems.  I ran the prototype department and helped build-up the family business. I felt I still had a lot more room to grow professionally and decided that a new challenge was where I was headed.  So, I decided to buy Aro Metal Stamping Company, Inc. in Roselle, IL.
 
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?
Manufacturing is a great industry. It is the only industry that actually produces money and generates wealth.  I don’t fall for “stereotypes.”  The manufacturing industry is filled with state-of-the-art technology.  I embrace technology. I enjoy learning and creating new processes. To help educate people on the negative stereotypes, I get out and meet people.  I speak to many students—from high school to college.  I educate them on what the industry has to offer.  I make sure to discuss the shortage of people in the industry, as well as the opportunities involved: i.e. apprenticeships or tuition reimbursements.  I also explain the financial burden college cost could put on a family versus an individual working/apprenticeship opportunity and the financial delta involved.
 
Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if they have a mentor.  Has mentorship played any role in your career? 
Mentors are very important.  I always had my father to look up to, along with many of my co-workers while spending my teen years in the shop.
 
One of the key findings in WiM’s recent survey results 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?
There are many different ways this subject can be approached.  Getting the word out is essential.  With that being said, the industry needs a strong marketing campaign.  We also need manufacturers to partner with organizations to open their doors for open houses and tours to help educate the general public about the industry.  Involving students at a young age and educating them about manufacturing is essential as well.
 
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 highly recommend the manufacturing industry.  We are the movers and drivers of this country.  At the end of the work-day, you feel accomplished.  For example, what you create today could end up in a car next year.
 
 

 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Assurance Guest Blogger: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
By: Jamie Glanz
Posted: August 12, 2015
 
As I’m sure every adult has, I sometimes feel that as decades pass, so does the level of respect younger generations exude. Blame it on technology or some other societal change, but specific manners that were once taught and practiced years ago seemed to fade. Growing up, my parents taught me a couple rules to live by:
  • Always be respectful
  • Always say “please” and “thank you”
  • Treat people the way you would want to be treated
Respect also plays a large role in a work culture. Paul Meshanko wrote a book titled The Respect Effect on this very issue. In this book, he discusses how being respectful in the work environment influences not only culture, but also increases productivity and reduces employment-related claims. Paul’s estimates indicate that, as a whole, the nation spends over $2 million annually for disrespectful behavior in the form of employment practices claims and litigation. Other research has shown as much as a $35 per employee increase in workers’ compensation costs as a result of disrespectful cultures.

While this concept is simple in nature, it’s not always the easiest to implement. As a society, we give “titles” and set levels of management that somehow seem to encourage people to see themselves as being more valuable to a company. I am extremely grateful to be in an organization where my philosophy on this issue is mirrored. The reality of any organization is that every individual has a key function, and without these functions operating successfully, an organization could not achieve its goals. So how does Assurance live this philosophy? There are a couple of very basic things that are done every day, which have a large impact:
  • We smile and say “hi” to each other (regardless if we can remember their name or their department)
  • We say “thank you,” and even give virtual “high-fives”  to show our appreciation
  • We listen by encouraging ideas and responding to every idea presented through the Ivan and Sharon Idea online platform
  • We clearly communicate what’s happening with our organization and the impact it will make through our Annual Meeting and Town Halls
  • We engage our employees by creating opportunities for all positions throughout the organization to get involved and take on a leadership role in various committees
Practicing these elementary philosophies at your own organization will nurture a respectful culture and assist in reducing the claims costs associated with and arising out of employees’ impression that they’re not respected. 

Assurance is one of the largest and most awarded independent insurance brokerages in the U.S. and a proud partner of Women in Manufacturing. As our monthly guest blogger, content from Assurance's blog that pertains to women in the manufacturing sector will be published regularly.

About the Author: Jamie Glanz is the Claims Manager at Assurance. With more than 20 years’ experience, Jamie is an expert in mitigating third party claims by reducing claim duration and incurred expenses.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

#HearHerStory with Katie Davis Director of Engineering at Ingersoll Rand

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.
 
Katie Davis, Director of Engineering at Ingersoll Rand
#HearHerStory / @womeninmfg

Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
I am the director of engineering operations excellence at Ingersoll Rand. My daily activities revolve around supporting our company’s engineering teams with tools and processes that enable them to best serve our customers.  I work to ensure that there is standard work driving the creation of components and products, as well as efficient system tools that enable ready access to the design codes and standards required to meet the needs of the industry and our customers.  Ingersoll Rand advances the quality of life by creating comfortable, sustainable and efficient environments.  It is my responsibility to ensure that our engineering organization has efficient tools and processes to deliver on our company commitments. 
 
How did you arrive at your current position?  What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
I am a mechanical engineer by profession, and I have had some extraordinary opportunities for growth throughout my career.  I began working in engineering design for Bechtel at a nuclear facility, and I was able to become a licensed professional engineer (PE) as a result of the five-year assignment.  My next career move took me to the U.S. Air Force, where I was involved in the design and construction of ground support equipment for the USAF fleet.  This was a fantastic opportunity for me to lead projects and supervise the construction and manufacturing of very large pieces of equipment.  During both of these assignments, I became very interested in several of the manufacturing processes, like welding, and I decided to pursue a career in the manufacturing industry.  Since joining Ingersoll Rand, I have had fantastic opportunities to work in all areas of the manufacturing business—from engineering design and strategy development, to information technology and quality.     
 
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?
I really did not encounter any stereotypes about manufacturing during my education, but I can remember one occasion where I surprised my male peers by accepting an assignment.  I was the technical authority over a 70-foot tower that was used for maintenance on the tail of a C-5 Aircraft, and the tower required a weld inspection.  I met the squadron leader at the base of the tower, and he offered me the option of staying on the ground.  To his surprise, I donned the lanyard, ascended the tower, completed the inspection and approved the equipment for use.  Not only did I gain the respect of my male peers, but I broke the stereotype.  I did get a little grease on my pink polo, but it was worth it.  I learned, first-hand, how my customer used the product and I gained an understanding of the impact that some of our manufacturing processes had on product reliability. It is completely ok to wear your polos in pink, and grease, dirt and oil are signs of accomplishment!
 
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 has definitely played a role in my career, from my education to present day.  I was fortunate enough to attend an engineering and robotics academy in high school, and I had a fantastic teacher who recognized my potential in the sciences and encouraged me to pursue engineering.  I have had several mentors throughout my career, but the most influential mentor in my career came about after joining my present company.  He took a personal interest in my development and challenged me to move beyond engineering into engineering leadership.  He supported me with challenging assignments in project management, manufacturing processes, engineering design, and getting my MBA.  It was that encouragement and support that enabled me to move closer to reaching my full potential.
 
One of the key findings in WiM’s recent 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?
Participation in events like National Engineer’s Week and National Manufacturing Day are great activities that involve community outreach and offer young women the opportunity to see where careers in manufacturing can take them.  I also believe that women who work in manufacturing should engage local schools and universities on opportunities to speak to STEM classes, participate in sponsored projects, and mentor young women before they make choices about their careers.
 
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? 
Of all of the career opportunities I have had in the last 16 years, manufacturing has offered me the greatest growth, on both a personal and professional level.  There is an endless array of career possibilities—from production to information technology and engineering to finance—that are available to young women through the manufacturing industry.