My career in manufacturing began as a working mom while juggling going to college. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Operation Management Project Management at night while working during the day. I now have been in manufacturing for over 20 years, 10 of those with Medtech companies. I have worked hard to achieve a wealth of knowledge for business, operations, and manufacturing holding roles that include supply chain management, project management, and operation management. Today I am a Project Manager for Flexan, leading and managing large projects that bring in new business and manufacturing product lines. Most of my time in Medtech has been spent in plastic injection molding, as such I am RJG master molder I certified. The most rewarding aspect of being in Medtech is seeing how the products impact lives on a daily basis and knowing that I have had a part in that. I am a mother of three fantastic adult to near adult children. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and traveling to new places.
What first drew you to medtech? When did you first know you wanted to be in the industry?
The beginning years of my career were spent working in the aerospace industry, but my passion has always been to help others and make an impact in their lives. The medtech industry has allowed me to f ulfill that purpose. I went to a doctor appointment shortly after starting at my first medtech company, when I scanned the room and saw the med devices in use that my team had created, I knew then that this is where I belonged. The feeling of accomplishment I get every day in this career is one that is hard to supersede. To this day, anytime I am in a medical facility I scan the room to see what I recognize, to see how the work we do in medtech truly effects people every day!
What are some of the barriers women face in today’s medtech industry?
I think one of the barriers women face today in the medtech industry, not unlike the greater manufacturing industry, is representation at all levels of management, particularly at the senior and executive levels. The mentorship and example that is provided by having women in senior and executive leadership roles has a huge impact on my career. Once I understood it was possible, I began to adjust my career development towards those goals.
In your opinion, what more can be done to promote the greater participation of young women in the medtech industry today?
Medtech is a largely unknown field for women, I think there are two critical things that can help include the next generation of women in this wonderful career. First, we should provide more mentorship and sponsorship programs for women in medtech companies. Mentorship provides great opportunity for young women ask advice and seek counsel as they become more confident in their skills, this was a big part of my career growth. Sponsorship at the executive level can help drive a culture that can guide more women to pursue a career in medtech. Second, we need more general communication around the opportunities medtech has to offer young women looking to start their career.
What projects, past or present, have made you love what you do?
I truly have loved every project I have worked on, especially the difficult projects (after they are complete, of course). I think every project has provided opportunities for growth, knowledge, and a sense of accomplishment. I am a data driven person and one of my favorite projects centered around process improvements and production flow improvement. Observing the process and implementing changes and observing how the team’s excitement to the subsequent improvement in process times and quality is a rewarding experience.
What projects are you most looking forward to?
Currently I am working on a large project with new processes that our team has never had the opportunity to tackle before, which is really exciting. Working with my team to understand and create something new is a challenge, but it also allows for creativity. Every idea can ultimately make an impact to success of the process. More projects like this are still to come and I look forward to the unique challenges that each of them will bring.
Describe your biggest leadership challenge. How did you conquer it or resolve it, or what was the outcome?
I think for me one of my biggest leadership challenges early on was not always having the perfect answer or solution. I always felt that I shouldn’t speak up if I didn’t have the answer. I will always remember my very first day I was promoted to being a supervisor. I called a meeting to help solve a problem and after we had finished discussing the option an employee said, “OK boss, what should we do?” I began to look around at everyone thinking someone else was being addressed before realizing they were looking to me. This was my first day and there was no way I was going to know what to do. I guided the discussion in a way to allow us, as a group to decide how to solve the problem. From that day forward I knew that it was OK to not always have the answer or solution; leading a cross-functional team to help bring the right solution to the table is an effective way of problem-solving.
What is the most important lesson you have learned that has guided you in your career?
One of the most important lessons I have learned as a leader is how to empower my team to accomplish their goals and allow them the ability to solve a problem without always giving out “the” answer. Allowing my team to learn and grow also means giving them the space to make the decision and allowing them to learn from that experience. Creating yearly goals for example is not a process that is done just by me, rather it is done as the whole team. We still have the standard target goals but determining how we will get there is a team process. We brainstorm ideas and together we create great goals we all believe in; at the end of the day, believing in the goals is what make the difference for my team.
Why is it important for companies to be more inclusive and have more women in charge?
Inclusion and diversity is one of the major factors for a company’s success. Research has shown that women typically provide a different approach to problem-solving, they provide a unique voice to a project, a team, and to the company. Since providing well-rounded solutions to a problem will ensure success it is vital that we keep encouraging more inclusion and diversity within our organizations.