What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
Nancy was most drawn to TireHub because of the commitment to culture and building a caring and supportive workplace that creates a collective sense of community. The opportunity to influence and shape the direction of a new company in a challenging supply chain model with the support and coaching of brilliant supply chain leaders was very exciting and has been a rewarding career move for her.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Nancy gets her greatest joy from seeing her team members grow and become leaders and achievers in the industry. Over the years, she has been afforded the privilege to serve many teams to guide them toward futures they dream to have.
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
Nancy's biggest failures have happened when she thinks she can solve a problem on her own. The more she can involve others in seeing the issues and participating in the solutions, the better the outcome she experiences. Back in 1987, she was planning Kleenex facial tissue, and their supplier was shorting them by 8 percent. Nancy decided that she would order 8 percent more on every order. They had a 16-week lead time, but Nancy triggered a production alarm at the supplier, and they shifted resources to fill her orders at 105 percent. She had so many cartons coming in that she could never consume, and some had promotional printing. Fortunately, she kept her job, but it took several production facilities to consume her order before they got back in balance.
Who or what inspires you?
Nancy is inspired by her belief that we are part of a larger picture and plan, and that people and circumstances come into our lives as an opportunity to learn and grow and support each other. In business, she is most inspired by the dedication and care her team invests in taking care of each other, their customers and their co-workers. This makes her excited to be part of the group, to take care of them and to do her best to try to make each day better than the last one.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
She worked for a senior director in operations named Bob Bauernfeind. He was a very well respected leader in operations. At heart, he was a teacher and a coach. He would exhaustively ask dozens of questions with very short deadline. After extensive research, he would then ask them to make up one slide in advance of a plant visit. He taught her to prepare for plant visits for representatives across all functions—sales, marketing, finance and operations. With preparation, she could answer questions that any plant team member might ask and show confidence and knowledge that was broad and not functionally specific.
Another vice president of operations, Dan Smith, was the first executive to give her an assignment in plant operations. It was rare at a manager level for someone to cross over from an analytical role in planning to a leadership role in plant operations, but Dan gave her a shot.
Nancy also had an incredible mentor named Henry Parker. He was experienced, wise and a patient coach and adviser. He helped her learn her role and how to lead the team with respect.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Nancy was taking a series of leadership webinars from Patty Azzarello, former general manager at HP and CEO of her own startup company. A moment that stands out for Nancy was on a class called "Don't be a Workhorse." It was about how leadership will appreciate the ability to assign and see you hustle through work, but you won't be seen as a leader until you demonstrate the ability to manage your own time and your team's time to discern priorities. She adopted this mentality and started to say no or yes, and within three months, she was promoted to her first director role.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
What she has learned from the TireHub leadership is:
- The critical importance of determining the company culture;
- How the team should act and feel when they work here;
- The way to differentiate business through putting customer needs front and center; and
- Dedicating the company to serve customers better than anyone else in the industry.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
What an exciting time to be part of this industry! There is so much to do and to influence. The tire industry is mature, competitive and ripe for optimization and new models of service that other cycling products have experienced.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
Nancy believes that we need to continue to support flexible work plans that enable women to participate and balance family responsibilities. When we allow families this support, it helps keep women in the workplace. She also believes that we need cross-functional career ladders that enable women to learn and grow in a spiral. We have to provide safety nets for learning, trying and innovating without fear of penalty. At the end, she believes it comes down to mentoring and raising up individuals, taking responsibility as a mid- to senior-level woman and building the confidence and capability of a younger professional.