What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
Nothing in particular drew me into the industry. I was not aware of the rubber industry as such when I started at Texcel. I am a believer in the process and I know that a good process can be applied to any industry. I ran to problems, I embraced problems, and the more problems I solved, the more I found. The evolution of the industry and the constant new challenges it presents has been the most rewarding.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I learned a great deal with every new challenge. Absorbing those lessons and using that knowledge for the next endeavor has been so rewarding. Learning to lead by serving. Always striving to rearrange the order of things for the better. Growth, as a person and as a professional, is—and I hope will continue to be—my greatest achievement throughout my career.
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
Where do I start? There have been many. And I cherish every one of them because every single one has been an opportunity to learn, and grow and improve. It has taught me that in every failure there is opportunity, and to never follow a leader who has not failed.
Who or what inspires you?
Adversity. My parents, who sacrificed everything to afford me a better future. I strive every day to honor the sacrifices they made. Sandra Day O'Connor, and all the women on whose shoulders I stand. Diane Barry, Barbara Feldman, women who were pioneers in the rubber industry.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
I made it a point to learn from every boss I ever had. All were men. Some were good, some bad, some downright disgraceful. I learned from all, good, bad and ugly. They may not have intended to teach me anything, but they all taught me something. But I would have liked to say I had a woman mentor. I never did.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
An imperfect decision made in a timely manner is always better than a perfect decision made too late. Leaders have to act and make decisions with lacking information and then have the conviction to defend those decisions.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
I would make sure I defined and communicated a clear, concise vision. Who do I (as my company) want to be when I grow up? Then I would ensure that the culture of my company aligned to the vision.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
It's like any other industry: large, but small. And it is about the process, but also about the people. Put your employees first. Treat your people right, and they will treat your customers right.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
Take the stigma of "it's a man's world" out of it. There are still too many gender stereotypes assigned to the sciences, especially the mechanical sciences. It's different when you're different, and a girl in a boy's arena is, unfortunately, still different. We have to keep fighting and setting examples, because it is worth it. Hopefully, we can continue to pay it forward and pave the way for generations to come.