Imelda Trevino-Ingman, Engineering Group Manager at General Motors

#WiMHearHerStory ,

Imelda Trevino-Ingman, Engineering Group Manager at General Motors
#WiMHearHerStory | @WomeninMFG

At Women in Manufacturing, we are committed to supporting women in the manufacturing sector. We firmly believe that mentorship and community-building will help attract and retain women in manufacturing. As part of our mission, we feature on our blog the stories of women we admire who are currently working in manufacturing. The following is the latest installment of our "Hear Her Story" series.

Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.

I have global responsibility for the Body-in-White Build of Equipment (BOE) for all General Motors’ body shops.  I also manage the development of lean material strategies. Every day I work with a group of engineers to improve the efficiency of our BOE and lean material strategies by finding ways to innovate where it makes sense.

How did you arrive at your current position? What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?

I’ve always enjoyed taking things apart to understand how they work.  I also enjoy studying an object and finding different ways to make it better, faster or just overall more efficient.  This led me to pursing a degree in mechanical engineering.

At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for men. Have you encountered stereotypes like these in your education or career and how did you overcome them?

Early in my career, I encountered people who stereotyped manufacturing as dirty, dangerous and unsuitable for women. However, times are changing and we all need to break through this stereotype. In the workplace, this can be done by sincerely demonstrating your skills, being a part of the team and continuously building on foundational skills.  Manufacturing offers technology-based, high-skill positions for those who seek them.

Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if they have a mentor. Has mentorship played any role in your career?

Mentorship has played a big role in my career.  It started when I was in high school, with one of my teachers taking the time to guide me through my career goals and discussing the challenges I might face. This mentorship continued on through college.  In my professional role, I still believe mentors are key contributors to my career.  As a result, I mentor with a nonprofit organization at local high schools, encouraging young women to step out of the norm and consider classes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  

One of the key findings in WiM’s survey is that there is significant overlap between what young women want in careers and the attributes of careers in manufacturing today. But the survey also found that, too often, young women are not aware of the opportunities available in manufacturing. What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in modern manufacturing?

Simply socialize it and say “women can be successful in manufacturing!”  One way to do so is through a mentoring program.  In the first session of the mentoring program I volunteer with, Winning Futures, I have to introduce myself and describe the details of my job. This experience is eye opening, not just for the mentees, but for the mentors as well. We learn from each other and what the industry has to offer.  Another way to socialize it is through an organization like WiM, which works to support women currently working in the industry. Another simple way is to participate in school career fairs, take the opportunity to speak out on behalf of manufacturing and let people know all it has to offer.

Our survey also found that the majority of women in manufacturing today would recommend the sector to young women considering career options. Would you recommend a career in manufacturing? And, if so, why?

I would absolutely recommend a career in manufacturing to women. Manufacturing is so diverse. It offers great opportunities for growth.  Daily, we are challenged to improve the technologies needed to make manufacturing more efficient.