What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
I grew up in metro Detroit, and I always was told that a career in the auto industry was something that offered unlimited opportunities. After gaining experience at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, I was ready to explore a new side of the business and the rubber industry seemed to offer excellent career opportunities as well. As an analyst, I was excited to explore new data sets, and I felt that I could offer a fresh perspective on how to integrate new-age digital indicators into existing measurement plans.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I have been an athlete my entire life and I played Division I college ice hockey. Ice hockey taught me how to set goals and work hard to achieve them. After graduating from college, I decided to train for and run a marathon. Running a marathon is my greatest achievement because of the mental and physical endurance it required. I had to leverage every aspect of myself to stay committed and focused during the months leading up to the race and during the four hours it took me to run the race.
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
In high school, I was offered an early letter of intent to play ice hockey on a scholarship. Being humbled by the offer, I was quick to accept. However, shortly after that it was announced that the university was dismantling their Division I ice hockey team. I was extremely disappointed in myself for being so quick to make a decision and not having the confidence to see what other offers would come my way. I made the decision to pivot and pursued a spot available at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York. RPI turned out to be an excellent experience and I received an education that would set me up for success. The experience taught me the importance of patience and resilience. I learned that sometimes disappointment can lead to opportunity, if you have the right mindset.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by ambitious people who are willing to put themselves out there in order to inspire change. I am energized by co-workers, friends and family who challenge the status quo and strive to make things better.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
My first boss, Debra Cramer, was a mentor for me. In an entry level role, you spend the bulk of your time just trying to figure out how to work. She taught me the importance of experience and positioned me to learn a lot in a small amount of time. She was willing to challenge me even though I was young and also provided me the constructive criticism that I needed to grow. I learned how to have a voice and how to use it professionally thanks to her teaching me the difference between the office and the classroom.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I have ever received was very simple and not poetic in the least. My brother once told me "motion creates motion"—the idea being that sometimes you just have to motivate yourself to start something and the rest will follow. Sometimes, we can get lost in the day to day, and the older we get the harder it is to try something new because we like to be experts from the get-go. I think of his advice when I catch myself thinking about things I want to do but search for excuses as to why I can't.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
I would start by telling this person that there are several different types of careers available in the rubber industry. It feels like every week I talk to someone at Cooper and I walk away learning about a career that I didn't even know existed within the industry. The opportunities are abundant and span across a wide skill set.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
I think females need to be empowered from a young age. I have a brother and a sister and my parents held my sister and me to the same standards as my brother. We were taught that we could do anything he could do, and I think that is why I felt confident going to an engineering school where the male to female ratio was 4:1. We need to encourage parents, coaches, mentors and teachers to stop telling girls what they can't do and instead open their eyes to what they can do.