What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
After college, I worked for few years in the restaurant industry, and I was looking for a change. A family friend worked in the rubber industry and recommended I interview for an opening at the company he worked for.
My own personal growth has been the most rewarding part of my career in the industry. The industry has afforded me the opportunity to build playgrounds and bikes for underprivileged children and participate in numerous charity events. I have challenged numerous fears by participating in tire testing events, rally cross schools, track events and off-roading adventures. Finally, intellectually, I am continually challenged to learn and evolve as the business and industry changes.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
My greatest professional achievement is winning the President's Award at Yokohama Tire. The President's Award is presented to the sales professional who best exemplifies drive, commitment, resourcefulness, professionalism and success within the entire Yokohama organization and is chosen by YTC President Jeff Barna.
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
It really is hard to pinpoint what my biggest failure I have had so far in my career. I am not implying that I have not failed at anything, but quite the opposite. I feel like I have had multiple "little" failures throughout my career. My philosophy from early on was "fail fast." The term "fail fast" is actually a new terminology for me but the actions behind the phase have been the basis of my career. Basically "fail fast" means to not be afraid to try something new or do something different. Yet it also means if your plan or idea starts to fail, re-evaluate, pivot and try something new.
Who or what inspires you?
My family is my greatest inspiration. I am inspired to live my best life for them. I want my kids to know that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. I want them to strive to be strong, educated, independent, resourceful, thoughtful, caring and spiritual people. As a career woman and mother the best way I know how to teach these things to my children is by leading by example.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
I have numerous people throughout my career who I would call mentors. With that said, the three below I feel have made the biggest impact on my career and development.
Tom Colelli was my first boss when I decided to go into outside sales at Continental Tire. I was young and relatively new to the tire industry. After working in customer service for a year, a six-month sales training program and a year in the field training, he hired me to run the largest sales territory they had in the country at the time. He treated me with respect, offered guidance, support and his years of knowledge as he "taught" me the tire industry and how to have fun while doing your job!
While working at Continental, Carl Casalbore joined the company. He quickly became not only a mentor, but a great friend. He saw much more potential in me and challenged me to learn more aspects of the business than just the sales side. Thus, with Carl's guidance, I became more involved in the corporate office and management side of the business.
Finally, currently I work for Stan Chandgie at Yokohama Tire. In his short tenure with Yokohama he has motivated and encouraged me to expand my horizons. He continues to foster growth and promote utilizing your full potential. With his mentorship and guidance, I see myself continuing to advance within the tire industry.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I have received a lot of great advice over my 20-year career that it is hard to narrow it down to just one (or two). With that said, I would say making sure as a female to create a work-family balance is key. The balance overall needs to be 50/50, but at times it will shift so we need to make sure to keep that in focus. No one is effective if, over time, they are too heavily weighted in one area or the other.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
I would spend time getting to know the people and the culture of the company first. I feel the best way to make effective changes within an organization is through your people. Spending time building relationships with the people that work for the organization and how they work effectively better allows the CEO to make decisions that impact the organization. Building relationships also builds trust and creates a team environment, which results in a more collaborative and dedicated work force.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
I would tell them to go for it. Although it may not be one of the more glamorous jobs or even really discussed in the mainstream, I could not imagine doing something else for a living. It challenges me every day in new ways and allows me to continually grow as the industry changes and evolves. I enjoy the interaction I have every day within my own organization and my customers.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
I think promoting STEM activities and careers to girls at a young age is one of the best ways to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers. Interest in STEM-related careers with these girls will bud and grow from being exposed to and involved in STEM-related activities early on. Also the more we make these activities fun the more involved girls will be.