AKRON—It never fails. Although Jamie McNutt has been in the tire industry for 22 years, she still sees the misconception that one needs to spend the weekend at a race track to really understand tires.
That couldn't be further from the truth. Starting with Bridgestone/Firestone in 1993, McNutt worked as a chemist in the raw materials and compounding area for almost 20 years before switching gears and heading the replacement tire development department for Bridgestone Americas' North and South American region for consumer tires from its Akron technical center.
While she does not consider herself a gear head—and doesn't find it fun to head to the track on weekends—she has made a strong career in the industry. Instead of concentrating on perceived differences negatively, she said she has used them to her advantage.
“I actually consider it to be a unique insight because I think I'm more of a typical consumer than the gear heads or the people who are out at the track every weekend,” she said, referring to her role as a minority in a male-dominated industry.
“So I feel like that's a big part of what I brought to the product conversation in the product development area,” she said, noting that's what “a normal consumer really cares about vs. somebody who's going to be pushing that car to the limit on the track on the weekend. That's not the typical consumer.
“I think that that probably has been something that is a little bit more difficult as a woman to overcome in this industry. And if you are a woman who is a gear head, than this is the perfect industry for you.”