What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
Joining the rubber industry was a happy accident for me. I wanted a position that allowed me to research and work in a lab. I found that in the Materials and Processing Engineering group at Lord Corp. Industry veterans would tell me "Rubber gets into your blood." Nine years later, I still believe it. The two things that keep me loving my career: the people in the industry and the opportunity to always learn something new. The rubber industry is a supportive community filled with individuals who want to help solve challenges, push the boundaries of research and help each other develop. Every day I learn something new.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
In 2019, I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It was 16 weeks of pushing through pain, early morning weekend runs, and my brain telling me I couldn't go any farther. Running for St. Jude was a chance to support an amazing cause and made crossing the finish line that much more impactful.
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
Not long after starting in the rubber industry I found the importance of learning through trying, struggling and asking for help. I was milling a stiff silicone batch when it crumbled. I tried for over an hour to get the batch to come back together. At that point, I asked for help. I started with a fresh batch and my mentor taught me to slowly increase shear to freshen the batch without crumbling. It is good to experiment to try new things but also not be afraid to ask questions or for help.
Who or what inspires you?
Challenges, personal and professional. They can come in all forms: a person overcoming adversities, a team collaborating to meet a deadline or being told I can't do something.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
I have had several mentors (official and unofficial) and others who have helped with my personal and professional career growth. Jim Halladay has been mentoring me since I joined the rubber industry in 2011. Focusing on rubber formulation, it started with readings, long Q&A sessions and hands-on lab training then transitioned into deep, technical discussions. Frank Krakowski was an unofficial mentor I sought out routinely for his expertise in rubber formulations. Pat Sheridan, Becky Williams, Haris Halilovic and Conor Marr have been mentors who share their knowledge on business and leadership. I also appreciate the time other great leaders in the industry like Ernie Pouttu, Keith Thomas and many others take to share their experiences.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Always keep asking questions and always keep trying.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
I would meet as many people as possible. People are what make a company. Each person has an important role in the success of the company, their colleagues and themselves.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
The rubber industry is a great community. It offers opportunities to expand technical and business expertise, develop careers in all areas of the industry, and provide for personal growth. All of that is surrounded by a community filled with hard-working, talented, and fun individuals.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
Give examples to follow by celebrating the accomplishments of women in STEM, provide mentoring opportunities and encourage participating in exciting, hands-on STEM programs.