What drew you to the rubber industry, and what has made your career in the industry rewarding?
What drew me to this industry is the importance of carbon black in our world and in our daily lives. Though many people may not realize it, carbon black is enabling people to take public transportation, drive cars in a comfort, seal our water taps, run our dish washers, use sports equipment in a safe manner, etc. With our products, we reach so many people across the world, each and every day, and we can truly make a difference. This is what makes a job in rubber so interesting and rewarding.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
In my professional life, I'm happy and very grateful to have been given the chance by Cabot to transition from sales assistant, to associate sales rep, to sales manager and then to key account manager with global involvement. It has taken hard work, a lot of commitment and devotion, but it has been a very interesting and rewarding journey so far, which I'm hoping to continue in the future.
What do you count as your biggest failure and what has it taught you?
As a young professional, surrounded by people with much more experience than I, I looked up to some more senior people, following many of their professional customs and habits. However, even when being young and not having much experience, you shouldn't blindly assume that everyone with more experience is always making the right decisions for both their company and customers. As young professionals, we should develop our own customs and habits, our own opinions and way of thinking. Young professionals can bring new ideas, new ways to approach situations and customers, which, in the end, can be really valuable for the company.
Who or what inspires you?
My parents have always inspired me. They taught me that when you work hard and have a direction in life, you can achieve many things. Both of them set a great example to me throughout my childhood, and together with the values they taught me, this pushed me to be really committed during both my student time and my professional life.
Who were your career mentors, and what role did they play?
During my career at Cabot, I've had quite a few mentors. While transitioning to expanded and more senior roles over time, I was lucky to get the support and help from many people on the team, who were willing to share their experiences with me. It helped me get better business and market insights, offer better solutions to customers' unmet needs and especially represent Cabot in the market in the best possible way. In addition, while working in an international environment and in a team of people from different countries and different cultures, I've also learned a lot of things. Different cultures have different habits and different ways of doing business, which is a great source of knowledge and inspiration. I would encourage young people to take the opportunity to look for an international workplace as it has so many pros to offer.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
"Challenge yourself and the people around you." Don't always take an answer for a "final answer," but challenge people by asking specific questions. It allows you to dig until you reach the real issue or real answer. It prevents people from taking the easiest way, from just assuming things, and allows yourself to take the best decision in every situation.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
If I were CEO of a company, I would ask my top management team and my business managers to switch positions with their team members/direct reports for one week. This would allow the team members to look at the challenges their top managers are faced with every day, and it might help the team better understand why some strategic decisions are taken. On the other side, the top managers could experience the day-to-day challenges and struggles his/her team deal with every day. I believe this could be an eye-opener for many people, it could further improve the team connection and, at the same time, it could be a future source for new ideas.
What would you tell someone considering a career in the rubber industry?
I would simply recommend people to join the rubber industry and experience how interesting it is. In rubber, we can really make a difference for many people on this planet, as our products are needed in so many of our daily activities. Moreover, we are in the center of innovation, product development, product optimizations, etc.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage females to pursue STEM-related careers?
I believe it would be great to build a sustainable connection with schools in order to show and explain to young people the different aspects of working in STEM-related roles within Cabot. Sharing practical examples, knowledge, experiences and presenting them success stories might convince them to be part of the future STEM work force. Moreover, some practical student/internships allowing young people to get a first taste around our work "in the field" could be that last push needed.