On the Rise: Jessica Belcher

Oct. 31, 2023

Jessica Belcher

Quality business leader on the yield team | Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. | Lawton, Okla. | Age: 27

What was your first job in the industry?

I started in our Topeka, Kan., plant right out of college doing new tire development on large haulage tires ranging from 25 inch- to 63-inch rim diameter. Walking into the plant on my first day was surreal, seeing equipment and tires bigger than I ever imagined.

What attracted you to the industry?

In college, I never thought about working with tires as a mechanical engineer. I assumed design and development engineers in the industry would need a chemical background to work with rubber. Little did I know how complex and involved the tire design and manufacturing process was and how many facets of engineering contribute to creating each product. I’ve had the opportunity now to work on the development of both large haulage and consumer tires and I am still amazed at the amount of work and innovation that goes into every tire.

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

I have spent some long nights in the plant working on development trial builds, and then coming right back in the mornings to follow up. I deal with many unexpected obstacles while implementing new tire constructions such as machine malfunctions and varying levels of expertise throughout shift changes. It can be exhausting dealing with these challenges throughout the night, but rewarding when the outcome is positive, and I get to see the tire I’ve developed in production and on the road.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

I am blessed to have had many amazing managers and mentors throughout each stage of my career. These individuals have given me the freedom and support to take on additional responsibility encouraging technical growth, while focusing on my personal development and exposing me to the many opportunities Goodyear has to offer.

What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?

I am the lead tire engineer for the implementation of a new tire building machine in the Americas region. I worked to adapt our current building and design standards with this new technology. Because we are phasing in 24 of these new machines and replacing old equipment along the way, the pressure is on to produce tires that perform well in the field while running with high yield and low waste in the plant. Lawton has always been a proving ground for new equipment, and I’m grateful to be a part of this team tackling these challenges.

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

Within the last month I took over a new position as quality business leader in Lawton, Okla., for our plant uniformity team. My previous position was developing new consumer tires within the plant. I have transitioned from designing green tire constructions and performing development trials, to supporting our yield team in understanding and tuning these constructions and the machines they run on to meet the customer’s OE uniformity requirements.

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

My biggest surprise is how such small inputs can have such a large impact on a tire — its appearance, performance and its uniformity. A couple millimeters of gauge, component placement, or a splice location can all change the end result of a tire.

Tell us about your family.

I grew up in a family of four with one older sister. I am the youngest of my extended family as well. Now, I am the proud parent of a 3-year-old dog.

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

I’d love to wake up with a photographic or eidetic memory.

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 think it would be interesting to swap jobs with an Olympic gymnast. I’d love to learn the physical and mental work ethic of an Olympic-level athlete. I can’t even imagine putting my body through what professional athletes do.

What's the biggest issue facing the tire industry?

The biggest issue I see is keeping up with the advancement of new technology and new environmental discoveries. Tires need to adapt to the requirements of new vehicles being introduced to the market, while utilizing more sustainable materials.

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

As a young kid I thought I would be a teacher during the year, and a rockstar during the summer. As I went through school (and learned I was a terrible singer), my ideal job shifted towards the medical industry. I went into college pre-med as a biological engineering major, and throughout my college journey realized engineering was the path for me.

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

Every year, both in and out of work, I challenge myself to learn something new and get myself out of my comfort zone. I have accepted a new position as a leader within my company, which has been a transition from focusing on my own projects. Outside of work, I conquered my first black trail on skis.

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

That’s a tough one; in 20 years anything could happen. I just hope to still be in a position where I can continuously develop and contribute, and I hope to play a key role in helping younger professionals grow in their new careers.