Susan Rokosz Senior Environmental Engineer at Ford Motor Company


Susan Rokosz, Senior Environmental Engineer at Ford Motor Company
#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 am a senior environmental engineer at Ford Motor Company. I work in the Global Environmental Policy group, within the Environmental Quality Office. The Environmental Quality Office works with all Ford manufacturing plants globally, not only ensuring compliance with environmental regulations, but assisting our plants in achieving environmental objectives. I have responsibility for regulatory support for the facilities, but I also work to improve our manufacturing plants’ performance, making sure they use natural resources in the most efficient manner. I am proud to say that Ford was recognized as the “Best Global Green Brand” in 2014!

On any given day, I might prepare a report for our weekly Business Plan Review meeting (business overview meetings initiated by Alan Mulally). Then I might respond to regulatory questions from our plants. That might be followed up by work on an internal communication or external press release highlighting our environmental achievements.

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

I started with Ford 35 years ago, in the Research Lab. When an opening in the Environmental Quality Office became available, I was eager to expand my horizons and see more of Ford. Manufacturing is a great place to be because you get to see the product go from start to finish – from raw materials to an exciting vehicle.

At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for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?

Once you get out into any of our plants, you realize that “dirty and dangerous” are the last words one would use to describe them! That’s why it is so important to get young women into manufacturing plants as interns, so that they can see what manufacturing looks like today.

I have had tremendous support and encouragement during my education and career, starting with my parents and continuing with my management at Ford today.

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

Yes, I have had exceptional mentors, starting in graduate school and continuing to this day. I think women need to be careful not to have a preconceived notion of what a mentor looks like – you may find one that looks totally different than the image you have in your mind, but that person may be key to helping you advance your career.

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?

I think women employed in manufacturing need to encourage students to accept internships in manufacturing companies. Most students are pleasantly surprised at the technical sophistication of today’s manufacturing plants, as well as the variety of manufacturing careers that are available.

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?

Yes, I would definitely recommend a career in manufacturing. In addition to working directly on the plant floor, there are many other career opportunities in manufacturing. My own job in environmental engineering is an example. Other opportunities to work in manufacturing include occupational health and safety, material planning and logistics, finance, and a host of others.

Why did you decide to join Women in Manufacturing? How do you personally find value in WiM membership?

I joined WiM to increase my ability to network with other women working in manufacturing. The diversity of companies represented by WIM membership is very valuable.