On the Rise: Iris Ocasio

Oct. 31, 2023

Iris Ocasio

Senior product planning and development | Bridgestone Americas Inc. | Nashville, Tenn. | Age: 30

What was your first job in the industry?

My first job in the tire industry was in retail supply chain for Bridgestone Retail Operations (BSRO) as an analyst overseeing store inventory for the Southeast division.

What attracted you to the industry?

Most of my career was in the automotive space, and after a brief stint in CPG (consumer packaged goods), I wanted to return to familiar territory, which landed me at Bridgestone. Bridgestone's presence has been well known in Nashville, but its commitment to diversity and openness to hear and support different perspectives attracted me to the company.

What is the biggest challenge you've faced in your career?

My biggest challenge would have been pivoting into a new role a week before COVID-19 shutdowns. Starting a new job is always an adjustment, but going from fully in-person to fully remote adds complexity. Having most of my experience in supply chain and then pivoting into product planning was difficult and a change of pace I wasn't expecting, but ultimately, the payoff has been worth it.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

I've been fortunate to join Bridgestone and the leaders I've encountered. It's hard to name just one, but the support and guidance that every one of my direct managers has brought me to where I am today, and I'm very thankful for their advice.

What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?

My current biggest accomplishment would be the completion of various internal projects. Still, I'm excited about the expansion of sizing within our all-terrain portfolio that has expanded coverage in my favorite pattern, the Destination X/T.

Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your workday?

I'm a senior product planner in product planning and development with Bridgestone Americas, focusing on CUV, SUV, and truck products. I spend much of my time evaluating trends and opportunities for my patterns. Recently, I've been focused on my favorite segments of the industry: all-terrain and max traction.

What's been the biggest surprise of your current job?

How passionate the team and the consumers are in the light truck space. The energy surrounding the on/off-road market has been contagious. I find myself checking out trucks, how they look, and what tires are on them, and now I spend an inordinate amount of time on "off-road TikTok," which counts as research — or so I tell myself.

Tell us about your family.

My father met my mother while stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army, making me split my time between Germany and Puerto Rico, with Puerto Rico being my primary home for most of my childhood. I recently celebrated my first wedding anniversary with my husband and two dogs, a brittany spaniel named Chief and a shepherd mix named Lucky.

If you could wake up tomorrow with one new skill, what would you choose?

I’d love the ability to speak and understand any language fluently. This would make international travel easier and support professional endeavors in a globalized world.

In a single word, how would your friends describe you?

Loyal – "She'll support you through thick and thin, offering straightforward honesty when needed, all because she genuinely cares about your well-being."

If you could switch jobs for a day, what job/who would you choose to swap with, and why?

I would switch to our CEO's role to approve the funding for my passion projects.

What's the biggest issue facing the tire industry?

Market regulations surrounding tire performance attributes. A one-size-fits-all approach to sustainability may not account for the varying needs of consumers. Some drivers prioritize longevity, while others prioritize fuel efficiency or low rolling resistance. Fewer regulations allow manufacturers to cater to diverse consumer demands and offer a wider range of tire options.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A veterinarian but I wasn’t cut out to deal with animals in pain.

What goal did you set for yourself this year? Are you on track to reach it?

This year, I set out to create some automation for our team's manual processes. With my fantastic colleagues' help, we could automate about 80% of the new material creation process and standardize reporting and automated dashboards to make competitive overviews a less labor-intensive task.

What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?

Great question! I hope to have a few successful patterns under my belt by then and lead a group of talented individuals.