What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
I became engaged in the rubber industry in a technical position after completing a rubber internship following college graduation.
I have found my tenure in the industry rewarding on many levels, but mainly due to acceptance into the industry. I have been provided equal opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. By putting in the work, I have developed a remarkable level of experience and knowledge, which I am now able to return in the form of business development and solutions applications. While I initially felt as if I had simply fallen into the industry, I know now I serve a purpose here. I look forward to many more rewarding years to come.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement at this point in my career is in how I have achieved a thriving technical and business benchmark that has actually attracted my oldest daughter into the industry. She is a chemical engineer serving as a materials engineer in the rubber mixing industry. I am proud to have served as an example to a young lady who has followed in my footsteps. While I have modeled well, I know she will far exceed Mom's talents.
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
My biggest failure was during a leg of my career when I did not have a personal mentor to offer leadership and career guidance. I was equipped with enough knowledge to get myself into the deep end where I was not ready to swim. I learned a valuable lesson during this season of life. I now keep personal and professional mentors to ensure I have the best opinions for use in making decisions.
Who or what inspires you?
Who: My husband Steve Glidewell, owner, president and founder of Elite Elastomers. He is an intelligent, natural-born leader who wisely leads in business and in life. It's hard not to be inspired by a person who starts his day at 4 a.m. for the care and keeping of others.
What: I am inspired by nature. I believe creation was designed to be respected, protected and certainly enjoyed. I am a National Park enthusiast and trail day hiker. I hope to hike the Appalachian Trail in the future. For now, duties call.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
I was raised in a matriarchal family. My grandmother, mother, and aunts all held jobs outside the home. These positions ranged from factory lines, department managers and business owners. I grew up observing the Age of the Entrepreneur by living under the umbrella of these women. My mother served as the tool and parts secretary in the tank division of an army installation. She came home from work some days with traces of grease on her hands and clothes. She never complained. She would wash her hands and toss me in the car some days to go buy the latest Hall & Oates single. I saw the women in my family encouraging one another while respecting their varying roles outside the home. From this, I adopted the practice of encouraging others and offering positivity in the work day.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
A special gentlemen who trained me in local small business operations once told me: "Nothing too good or too bad lasts for too long." I've seen enough life at this point to know this rings true.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Because I believe I am on my way to this position, I've actually already had this thought. The first thing I would do is list how others (people and industry) will be improved and elevated by the actions of my organization.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
The rubber industry is not an easy environment. The nature of the product is the biggest challenge. However, if one enjoys surprises and has a gift for problem-solving, it's the perfect daily arena.
I would advise that one have tenacity, invest in soap and hang on for an entertaining ride. Personally, I have found this to be a hair-raising experience.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
The most basic task to encourage females is simple awareness. While schools and programs can serve as vehicles for exposure, it really needs to begin at home or in the community through extracurricular meets or fairs. Encouraging young people to be investigative and inquisitive is a great step for producing our next generation of scientists and engineers. I participate in local school career fairs where I explain my role as a development scientist to groups of young students, while showing them product examples. Furthermore, I have introduced cooking, robotics, 3D printing and materials to our youngest children in our own home. These types of experiences are the first steps to creating our next generation of makers.