What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
My educational background is in finance, which is very portable across industries. I have predominantly worked in distribution and manufacturing. Although I didn't specifically look for a job in "rubber," the field service and distribution of Belterra was a natural fit for me at this time in my career.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Two employed adult children and a 37 year marriage!
On the career side, I take the most pride in seeing individuals that I have coached throughout my career develop and take on greater challenges. It's about helping others be the best they can be.
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
"Failure" as a word, has such a negative connotation in our culture. I have had all kinds of failures.
I'll say I took a job at a biotech company, and was there a year and a half as VP Finance (and as Acting CFO for part of that time). They hired a new CEO, and shortly thereafter, I was let go. It was a huge blow to my ego. I think, though, the part that bothers me more, is that I hated that job and only stuck around for the pay check (it was good). I should have left on my own earlier, but I didn't. On the lessons learned side, that stint gave me public company experience, which led to my next position, which I wouldn't have got without that. I think you learn from good and bad jobs (as you do from good and bad bosses), and when that door closes another opens. It was after leaving that position that I really started to work my professional network to find my next role.
Who or what inspires you?
So many people inspire me, particularly women who have achieved a level of success in male-dominated fields. I was in awe of Reese Witherspoon's docu-series Shine On, which highlighted nine successful, inspirational women.
Also the book "Tuesdays With Morrie" is very inspiring. To live a life like Morrie's would be amazing. I highly recommend the book.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
I have had many mentors throughout my career. My first (and still) mentor is my dad. He was also a CPA and worked his way to being president and partner in the bakery supply business.
At Belterra, Don Latham, who was my predecessor in the president's role, mentored me and was instrumental in me taking on this role when he retired. His confidence in me was critical.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
It would be impossible for me to pick the best advice.
I recall when I got my first management position, I was told not to over-manage and to be ends-oriented instead of means-oriented. I have tried to follow that advice throughout my career. There is always more than one way to achieve a goal: Focus on the goal, not the individual steps to get there (with one caveat, in that the means must be ethical.)
Another good piece of advice was to focus on solving the problem, not finding who to blame!
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
LOL, I am the CEO at Belterra. The first thing I did was get out to as many branches as I could in the first 3-6 months and meet as many staff members as possible. I tried to get to know them personally and hear their ideas and concerns about the company.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
GO for it!
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
Well for starters, I think highlighting women who have careers in STEM is critical as it shows young women there's a path. And it's essential that high school girls are exposed to these women's stories. It's in high school that students start to choose general paths (science vs arts, etc.)
It's key that men in powerful positions help mentor and promote young women—giving them challenging assignments, etc.—so they learn and grow in an organization.