Danielle joined Resonetics in 2018 as an Application development Engineer, where she developed laser cutting and welding processes from initial prototypes to large-scale manufacturing. She has worked her way up to Lightspeed Engineering Manager, managing the Lightspeed team focused on laser cutting and welding process development. Danielle’s focus is on innovation and speed, she is driven to lead her team to develop prototypes that efficiently translate to manufacturing solutions which enable customers to develop and launch products in record time.
Danielle received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Kentucky and has a Master’s in Biomedical & Medical Engineering from Cleveland State University. She is also Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified from Purdue University.
What first drew you to medtech? When did you first know you wanted to be in the industry?
I originally went to college on a pre-veterinary track. I started doing undergraduate research in a microbiology lab on campus and fell in love with the structure of research. I loved setting up an experiment where I had no idea what the outcome would be. It kept me guessing, engaged, and wanting to know more. As I went through my classes I found I had a passion for mathematics and engineering. With some guidance from my college advisor, I ended up taking all engineering classes my senior year and applied to a master’s program for biomedical engineering. This was definitely the right choice for me. I truly enjoyed my grad school classes and am ultimately happy in the career path I am on!
What projects, past or present, have made you love what you do?
I love both the technical and the project/people management aspects of my job. The technical problems challenge me and appeal to the “critical thinking engineer” side of my brain. Very rarely in my work is the answer or path clearly laid out, which causes me to really think and come up with creative solutions. The project and people management challenges appeal to what I call the “social engineer” side of my brain. I enjoy finding the strengths and weaknesses of each member on my team and putting them in roles that allow them to thrive and allow the project to progress on the most efficient pathway.
What are some of the barriers women face in today’s medtech industry?
I think the biggest barrier for women in the medtech industry and STEM in general, is the number of women candidates for engineering or leadership positions. There still are not as many of us out there interviewing for these positions, which means there aren’t as many of us in the field. The only way to change this is to expose more young women and children to the options of STEM career paths. I think seeing someone like you in a role you want to be in helps make that goal feel more achievable. I’d love to see more female leadership within my own company and have that mentorship on my career path. I hope one day I can also be that mentor for other young female engineers/managers.
Describe your biggest leadership challenge. How did you conquer it or resolve it, or what was the outcome?
As a relatively young female, in a management role and in a mostly male-dominated field, I found it difficult to be assertive with my voice and opinion with the older, more experienced men. I am often the only female in a meeting, and I had to mentally move past that and not let it interfere with the work we are trying to accomplish. I am fortunate to have the support of my direct supervisors to encourage me and remind me that I am in this role for a reason. As I continue to gain confidence in myself and my role within the company, I have also gained respect from my team members. I think we all work well together and have accomplished a lot of big projects in a short time frame. Having an open line of communication and respecting one another has been key to that.
Talk about your leadership skills. What is the most important lesson you have learned that has guided you in your career?
As a manager, I really try to show the people on my team that the work they do has value and is appreciated by both the company and me. I also think it is important for people to enjoy coming to work every day. I take the time to schedule team bonding events throughout the year, and because of this, our team is very close. We have themed carry-ins, celebrate birthdays, go out for lunch, and come up with fun group activities, whether it is a fitness challenge or a food competition. I think this fellowship allows us to have an open line of communication, and because we all like each other as people, we don’t want to let each other down. This helps us stay effective in our work, meet deadlines, and collaborate on complicated projects.
I am incredibly lucky to work with the team that I have. I have learned a lot from them, and I hope that they have been able to learn a lot from me as well. I think it’s important to listen to the people on your team. No one knows everything, and being open to other ideas is crucial to being a good leader. Pulling from everyone’s background and experience to come up with the most efficient and effective solution is always going to be the best option.
In your opinion, what more can be done to promote the greater participation of young women in the medtech industry today?
We need more women involved in mentorship programs and STEM schools, to show young girls all the different career paths that are open to them. Seeing people like you in roles that you want to be in is instrumental to getting young girls involved in STEM. My company, Resonetics, partners with a local STEM school to help show students different possibilities for career paths after high school. We have helped teachers make lesson plans, given tours of our facility, and talked to students about how we ended up in the positions we are in today. This school offers coding, 3D modeling classes, engineering principals, and many other classes to expose students to all the different options out there. My high school did not have any classes close to these, but I would have loved that opportunity, and ultimately, I think it would have shown me that engineering was the right path for myself earlier on.
Why is it important for companies to be more inclusive and have more women in charge?
Studies show that a more diverse workplace leads to more innovation and, ultimately, better financial performance. This makes sense to me, the more diverse your workforce is the more diverse the solutions for problems are going to be. In my experience working with other women, they tend to be more eager to jump into projects, more proactive with solving problems, and more likely to listen to other ideas. I think adding this perspective or any new perspective is a great addition to any company.