On the Rise: Bernadette Crookston
Principal compounder | Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. | Age: 38
What was your first job in the industry?
Goodyear was my first job after graduating.
What attracted you to the industry?
Tires are a technical challenge involving many facets of engineering and science, so there are always opportunities to expand your technical and professional abilities and learn by being exposed to a variety of topics.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
Being an introvert, I think my biggest challenge has been finding my voice in the broader organization.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
As a new hire my technical mentor introduced me to many aspects of compounding, but most importantly reinforced an experimental mindset based on expanding your knowledge over trying to find “the” solution.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
Consumer tread compound technology I developed has been received with wonderful customer feedback about setting the bar for what the industry can do in terms of rolling resistance on light truck applications.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
My highest priority is to develop and industrialize new consumer tread compounds that advance product performance differentiation and integrate new technology that gives Goodyear a competitive advantage. My specific support is to product releases for our original equipment customers, especially GM and Tesla. Additionally, I also chair efforts to create and refine the tread compound strategy and future vision for the Americas region. This responsibility includes developing internal capabilities that apply machine learning to compound development and integration efforts with Goodyear acquisition of Cooper Tires.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
I think the best advice someone could have given me as a newbie would be to always remind yourself that you have the talent to fix an issue or deliver results, so stay calm and don’t stop believing while you work to that final solution (even if it does take a little longer than you would like).
Tell us about your family.
I am single but have a very close relationship with my parents, siblings and many extended family members. Anyone available frequently gets together on Sundays for dinner that can regularly include a dozen adults and a slew of children; it is hectic but a lot of fun being together.
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
On those unlucky days when it seems like nothing went right it feels really good to just shut down the computer at the end of the day as metaphorically turning off and separating yourself from those irritating situations of the day. Then if I was still stewing, I would probably go home and do something that requires mental participation or talk to the dog until I reminded myself to keep perspective about that day’s little blip versus the big picture.
Name one thing you wish the average American better understood about the tire industry.
I would want to remind people how much trust they place in their tires every time they drive a vehicle or put their person in close proximity to a moving vehicle. Recognizing that I think people might naturally appreciate more the technicality of tires.
If you could have lunch with a celebrity, who would it be, and why?
I am fascinated observing how people respond or behave in certain situations, so I would have lunch with Judge Judy Sheindlin. I think she has an interesting perspective on people that I would enjoy talking about with her.
Name a talent you wish you had.
One talent I wish I was better at was self-promotion. I believe I am self-motivated and confident in my capabilities, but it certainly makes me uncomfortable talking myself up to other people.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Finding innovative solutions or substitutions as the industry learns more about the environmental impacts of traditional compounding materials will be very challenging. As responsible stewards we will find the answers, but it does not promise to be a simple problem.
Tell us your biggest pet peeve.
I can only take sarcasm in small doses.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
It feels like it is really hard to remember the good ones when you just suffered through a string of duds, but the last book I finished reading was Agatha Christie’s Crooked House. It was an enjoyable re-read, and it is nice to return to the classics every once in a while.
If a tire dealer asked you for advice to find good employees, what would you suggest?
I would suggest looking for an employee that is open and honest above all else. I believe these character traits naturally build respect, trust and comradery between people, and since nothing gets done in a bubble will make a very effective team member.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Twenty years from now I expect I will still be working at Goodyear but in a completely different way than I have functioned so far. I expect as we push to expand the performance frontier we will need to rely on development in an almost completely virtual environment based on all the data we have created up to now with traditional approaches in combination with molecular modeling; I will be leading a group of compounders like myself in that effort.