Senior manager, production control and industrial engineering | Bridgestone Americas Inc. | Murfreesboro, Tenn. | Age: 30
What was your first job in the industry?
After graduating college, I started as an associate industrial engineer with Bridgestone at the Warren County, Tenn., manufacturing plant.
What attracted you to the industry?
I was drawn to manufacturing and the tire industry due to the fast-paced environment. With such a large operation and complex process, I knew I would never get bored and would face a different challenge each day, and that excited me.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced in your career?
COVID-19 and the impact it had on our operations. We had to rethink how we did business and learn to react to changing demand very quickly. It was an incredible challenge and learning experience that I feel developed my agility, both in mindset and skill.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My parents. They raised me with strong values and work ethic that has translated into my job, and they continue to support me in my career. There are many other people that have supported me above and beyond since joining Bridgestone. Steven Schnuelle took a chance when he hired me right out of school and taught me a lot of the technical skills I know and still use today. Serena Lonas has been a strong mentor with years of experience and is inspiring for women like me in this industry. Shane Petty has always been a strong advocate for me in my personal and professional development and I owe a lot of my growth to his support.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment to date is being selected as a project finalist in Bridgestone's Global Total Quality Management (TQM) Competition that took place in Tokyo, Japan. It was a culmination of my six sigma certification project that took over a year to complete. The project centered around improving tire throughput in final inspection and preventing backlog. There were many people that supported me and contributed to this success.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your workday?
I manage a team of industrial engineers and production schedulers in one of Bridgestone's TBR manufacturing plants. I guide this team toward our goal of ensuring we have the resources to meet demand, while optimizing production processes and systems. On a daily basis this involves inventory management, contingency planning, efficiency tracking, and kaizen improvements. I also do a lot of strategic planning and operational analysis around production capacity, manpower, and cost.
What's been the biggest surprise of your current job?
The amount of employee turnover we are seeing in both hourly and staff employees since COVID-19.
Tell us about your family.
I grew up in northern Illinois as the oldest of three siblings. My two younger brothers followed a similar path into finance and accounting, while I pursued engineering. I owe a lot of my grit to those younger days growing up as the only girl, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I am recently married to my wonderful husband, Andrew, and we are happy to have settled in Tennessee for now. We spend a lot of our time exploring what Tennessee has to offer as well as with our baby, Arlo, our 3-year-old goldendoodle. We hope to grow our family with some human babies in the future.
If you could wake up tomorrow with one new skill, what would you choose?
The ability to make small talk and network.
In a single word, how would your friends describe you?
If you could switch jobs for a day, what job/who would you choose to swap with, and why?
I would want to swap jobs with one of our teammates in the factory, sort of like "Undercover Boss." I know it would give me an entirely new perspective of the work and give me more insight to be able to perform my job more effectively. I talk with teammates all the time, but physically putting yourself in their shoes would be enlightening. At the same time, swapping jobs with me they could see the decisions and challenges of management and offer a new perspective.
What's the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
I think the volatility of demand paired with our inability to hire trade/manufacturing workers. As a broad statement, the newer workforce does not have the same values or work ethic as some of our more senior employees. As an industry, we need to find a way to make tire building a desirable job again and evolve our training and processes to relate to the younger generations. The logical path is to replace the labor-intensive jobs with digital ones, using technology to advance our products for society and appeal to the workforce.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Professional basketball player.
What goal did you set for yourself this year? Are you on track to reach it?
I got married this year! My goal was to work my full-time job and plan a wedding without getting overly stressed. I would say I was successful.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I expect technology and the digital transformation of the tire industry to be vastly different 20 years from now than what it is today. I would love to be a part of that journey and in a position to mentor young engineers to evolve with this change and give back to society.