The future of manufacturing is female
By Anne-Frances Hutchinson
While women represent roughly half of the nation’s workforce, there are fewer than one in three women working in manufacturing. The Manufacturing Institute, the education and workplace development arm of the Manufacturing Institute of America, has dedicated itself to closing the gender gap and developing the true workforce of the 21st century. Their STEP Women’s Initiative (science, technology, engineering, and production) recently recognized 130 role models and leaders in the manufacturing industry who are blazing a path for the next generation of women in the sector, and whose brilliance, determination, and indefatigability is delivering the desperately needed change to the discipline. This sampling of the 2020 STEP Ahead honorees is reflective of the talent, promise, and drive reshaping the world of work.
Logistics Node Manager, Caterpillar Inc.
A 22-year veteran of Caterpillar, Alamo is a leader in the company’s aftermarket parts organization.
While spearheading a transit time reduction project for an Argentinian Caterpillar dealer, she led a team to determine solutions that would keep the customer from entertaining a competitor. By changing distribution centers, the customer sliced their transportation costs by $2.5 million annually and resulted in an 80% drop in quality claims. Her overall leadership approach has increased productivity, reduced transactional errors, and, for 2018-2019, decreased the injury rate by 82%.
Vice President, Central Project Management, ExxonMobil Global Projects Company
Autin’s 40 years in manufacturing, over 14 of which have been spent in leadership roles at ExxonMobil, have inspired women around the world, from sponsoring participants through her employer’s Global Women in Management Program to founding the Women’s Energy Network in Papua New Guinea. That network established the Decie Autin Scholarship for women in engineering. In her current role, she supports $15 billion of capital projects for the company.
Director of Quality and Food Safety, Phoenix Closures, Inc.
In her role for the Naperville, Ill., packaging firm, Banasiak oversaw a 37% drop in customer complaints in less than two years. Four separate factories earned perfect or near perfect scores in their 2019 Global Food Safety Initiative recertification audits. According to the company, “With a strong dedication to professional education and development, Meena has enabled several individual employees to achieve technical certifications. She has also overseen significant improvements to the format and content of thousands of training activities administered to our 400+ production, maintenance, warehouse, and management personnel.”
Senior Advisory Engineer, BWX Technologies, Inc.
For over three decades, Cameron has been breaking barriers at BWXT, a developer and manufacturer of nuclear solutions for national security, clean energy, environmental remediation, nuclear medicine, and space exploration. Not only is she the first female engineer to reach senior advisory engineer status in the firm, she is a technical innovator, and as lead master Lean Six Sigma Black Belt in BWXT’s Operational Excellence Group has personally mentored 30 black belt candidates in four states.
Section Manager-CSM Dept., AK Steel Corporation
An active member of the Association for Iron and Steel Technology and a veteran of the US Navy and Naval Reserves, Richards is section manager of AK’s Middletown Works green coil/hot roll department. As part of her work, she coordinates the safe and efficient movement of coils formed from molten steel that weigh up to 40 tons apiece. A trainer and mentor, the former hospital corpsman recently hired and trained 20 new coil tractor operators to help meet AK Steel demands.
Operations Foreman, Marathon Petroleum Corporation
In her role, Sandlin optimizes highly complex refinery processes. As her profile notes, “In one recent undertaking, she used her technical dexterity and communication abilities to frame out a plan, collaborate with decision-makers and help implement the final plan, ably troubleshooting along the way. The resulting optimization has improved profitability by more than $1 million per year over several years, with minimal expense to the company.”
Technology Principal, Dow Inc.
“Within the manufacturing environment, I want technical people to be successful with little frustration,” she writes in her profile. An early developer of advanced multivariate technologies, Zehringer introduced talent to the materials science innovator that “set Dow’s analytics apart. Her initial idea has since delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to Dow in vetted value/ROI. She is also responsible for introducing Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI) to Dow, and as technology leader, she continues to develop new analytics tools through the Manufacturing 4.0 program.”
Corporate Environmental Engineer, National Gypsum
A civil engineer and Coast Guard veteran, Zehringer is changing the way this construction supply giant is handling material logistics, and helping the company to bring more military vets and women in STEM onboard. In her early days with the company, as a project engineer tasked with reopening a fallow plant, her work significantly improved supply chain optimization, resulting in impressive cost savings. During that project, she saw a design flaw in a piece of anchoring equipment, and redesigned it to make it more effective.
For a deeper dive into the many accomplishments of these select honorees, and to see the full 2020 list, visit The Manufacturing Institute.