On the Rise: Christine Linder
Manufacturing Services Manager for Tire Assembly | Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. | Age: 34
What was your first job in the industry?
I started out as a cooperative in the materials application development group at Cooper headquarters. I was completing my chemical engineering degree from the University of Toledo and gaining great experience rotating though different departments within Cooper’s Tech Center.
What attracted you to the industry?
I first met with Cooper Tire at a University of Toledo career fair for students looking for cooperative education employment. I had very little knowledge of tires at the time, but I was extremely impressed with the information provided, level of technology, and ever-evolving environment. I was offered and accepted a co-op position and enjoyed it so much that it was an easy decision to remain with the company when I was offered a full-time job at Cooper following graduation.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Transitioning from engineer to manager at a fairly young age was the biggest challenge that I have faced so far. I was asked to step into a role managing people who were older and more experienced than I was. I also faced the challenge of being a female in a manufacturing world that was predominantly male. I had to quickly earn the respect of my peers and develop a management style to keep my department moving forward as a cohesive team.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
When I started as a young engineer out of college, the managerial ranks of the tire industry were dominated by males. It was rare to see a female in a management position in the manufacturing environment in any company. When I worked on the development side, I was drawn to the faster-paced manufacturing side and set my career path in that direction. Jean Hoffman was the chief chemist at Cooper’s Texarkana facility and I began to look up to her as a role model for my career. She is a well-respected and successful leader in the organization. I would observe how she successfully led her people, independently made critical decisions, and worked together as part of the management team.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
I have advanced through the Cooper Tire Lean Six Sigma program to gain my black belt certification, both internally and internationally through the American Society for Quality. The tools gained through my certification journey have been instrumental in making me a better leader, mentor, problem solver, and decision maker.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I hope to still be doing the things I love: traveling every opportunity I get, managing and leading people to perform at their highest potential, and making a difference in the lives of the people around me and the community in which I live.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
Get ready! It is a much faster paced industry than I thought when I started.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
I started my career in the industry as a co-op, so I get involved helping to recruit co-op students to help get their foot in the door before they graduate from college.
Tell us about your family.
I’m the youngest of three children. One of my brothers is also an engineer (mechanical, in the pump industry), and my other brother was named the Rabies Wildlife Biologist of the Year.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
I love to get outdoors and spend time unwinding on the weekends, anything from camping, hiking, or running to climbing, being on the water, or seeing new things.
What’s your favorite food?
It would definitely have to be a good New York style pizza with ham and pineapple.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
My grandfather. I’ve been living away from home for eight years now and don’t get to spend as much time with my family as I used to. He passed away three years ago, and I would love to be able to have dinner with him again.
If we took your cell phone away and said it would cost you $1,000 to get it back, how long would you survive until you paid the ransom?
If I could write down a few phone numbers before it was taken away, I think I could last a while. If not, it wouldn’t take long before I needed it. The only number I have memorized is my mom’s.