What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
All the way through my career path, it is seen that I have started to be involved in the heavy equipment industrial business (tractors and related equipment, initially). The challenges and combination of technical and economical parts looked interesting to me, but I never thought or aimed to join rubber industry.
By taking the opportunity to join the Singapore office of a tire company as marketing manager, I started to discover this industry more and more. I wanted to be involved not only in marketing but also in the sales and technical aspects, and pursue an interest in something new and challenging. Also, the example of my future husband as tire sales manager drew me into the rubber industry.
The most rewarding part to me is diversity at all the aspects of the career. First is the multinational community and the network that enriches me with understanding of cultural specifics and gives me a wider understanding as to why certain things in business happen certain ways.
Another diversity that I like in my career is that I constantly trade my office chair for an airplane/car/truck seat. It is at the negotiations table and with safety boots on my feet that make me feel more fulfilled from inside.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
As my biggest achievement, I would name significant sales diversification in terms of diversity of selling sizes and enlarging popularity of the segments that have never been sold in this region. Before I joined, my current company was selling about five or six tire sizes to the Asia region. Within three years with myself on board, the number of different and specific tire sizes have been increased up to 14, and we keep growing this number.
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
At the beginning of my career I tended to be more emotional. That led to the wrong decision to give rights of supplies to a not-loyal distributor. I simply didn't recognize their true intentions, and my decision led to one-time supply only, instead of a long-term relationship. Of course, it taught me to be much more careful on the partners I choose, make deeper studies on them and put more liabilities into contracts and be cold-minded when it comes to strategic decisions.
Who or what inspires you?
The results that come out from challenging projects and diversity of opportunities in the industry. Talking about a person that inspires me I would name Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand prime minister.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
I was lucky enough to encounter and work with different chiefs that were my career mentors, and each of them taught me in different fields of knowledge. My first boss taught me to sort wheat from the chaff within people and partners I work. From the second one, I took best practices as to how to keep my work on despite any circumstances that were happening around the business and get the things done. Another boss ironed out the kinks in commercial business understanding.
There also were "mentors" who taught me by their own example how not to do (things). That was also quite an interesting experience.
My assumption is that we cannot have only one mentor. Mentors are all around us, and we should get knowledge, skills and points of view from people surrounding us, and this is the way to self-improving.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Move on no matter what. If you can run to your aim—run. If you cannot run, walk. If you are not able to walk, lie down with face toward the aim.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
I would open my office door and keep it this way so everybody could enter and see what I'm doing and how I'm working. Also, it will mean that everybody could come in with ideas and he/she will be welcomed. In case the company size is smaller, where everybody is in the open space, I would share it with the others.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
Just roll in and you will discover the world of opportunities, challenges, and you will never get TYRED of it.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
This is quite a deep question and comes with its roots to childhood and basic understanding between boys and girls. What is popping up in your mind when we speak about girls? For sure that would be dolls, pink colors, cooking things, etc. And, initially, parents (a vast majority) don't really give the choice to their daughters by intentionally directing them to "female" styles. Nowadays this trend is changing, but still not enough to bring substantial numbers of females to the industry. Therefore, my opinion is that we need to give more freedom of choice and put Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at the same stage as the other future career directions, so girls and young ladies could discover all possible paths by themselves without any influence from society or relatives.
And to ensure that females stay in the STEM-related careers, they need more positive examples of female success (luckily this number is slowly growing), giving more responsibilities and freedom of actions.