What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
I started my career in the rubber industry when I was 17 years old. It was not my choice, but rather a result of national and gender discrimination in the former USSR. However, I never regretted that I became a rubber professional: I met the best people here, got the best training, fulfilled my dreams and raised two children, while working full time. Decades later, I still love the global rubber industry and science.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
While I have many published papers, patents and know-how, I feel that my biggest achievement was to successfully lead/participate in many R&D and manufacturing projects in Russia and Austria, Israel and Malaysia, China, India and Guatemala. Science and technology are international, and rubber products are needed in all countries. My international cooperation convinced me that people can work together, rather than fight. Technical professionals should lead this trend, not allowing dirty politicians to dominate people's minds
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
Through my long career in academia and in industry, with each new job, new boss, new team, I had to fight for my equal rights and prove that females can have the same knowledge, same energy and wit, as their male counterparts do. In fact, frequently, women are more diligent, detail-oriented and persistent. Sometimes, my fight was successful, but many people would leave with the wrong opinion as "she is an exclusion." This fight is still in progress. The failure was my inability to convince the community that women are equal and should be always treated as such.
Who or what inspires you?
My inspiration regarding the rubber technology is in the trend that materials, designs and processes change, but the global demand grows, which means a bright future for rubber.
My social inspiration is in my daughter who successfully manages her challenging career in the field of justice, in my 16-year-old granddaughter who ambitiously thinks that she can reach her best potential, and in my son-in-law whose attitude in gender equality is much more progressive than for males of my generation.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
My first career mentor was Dr. Tutorsky in Moscow who inspired me to study elastomers. My next career mentor in Moscow was Dr. Bukhina, who now in her 90s, still is leading the Editorial Board of the Russian analog of Rubber Chemistry and Technology. My mentors at Cabot were Dr. Steve Reznek and Dr. Kutsovsky, both of whom helped me to understand modern nanotechnology.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
From my mother: "Work hard and you will like what you are doing."
From my mentor: "People who work hard are all always needed."
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
I would suggest that each person explains what is his/her career objective for the next 2-5 years, and explain why it is needed for the company and what makes her/him to qualified for the job.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
Think hard, do not take the decision lightly: Rubber is sticky; once entering the field, you will stick here for a long time.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
The attitude of the gender equality is developed in families and at early education years. It is a cultural issue, and should be approached as such. Regarding the STEM careers: Females who feel equal will choose STEM or any other careers at the same rates as males do. To encourage the progress, females should not be obstructed by managers and male co-workers.