What It Means to Me: Hear from WiM Hall of Fame Inductees
Meet the Women Recognized by the
WiM Hall of Fame
We interviewed past and current award recipients about their experiences as Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame inductees and what this honor means for women in the manufacturing indsutry. Read on to meet the inspiring women behind the award and discover what motivates as trailblazers in manufacturing.
About the Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame
The Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame honors women who have made outstanding contributions during their established manufacturing careers. Recipients include women who are dedicated to supporting, promoting and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry.
The Women in Manufacturing Education Foundation (WiMEF) is pleased to announce 13 outstanding women leaders who make up the 2022 Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame inductees.
The group was officially welcomed to the Hall of Fame with a ceremony and gala on October 12, 2022, as part of WiM’s 12th annual SUMMIT in Atlanta, GA. The event welcomed more than 225 attendees who celebrated these trailblazing women in manufacturing.
"This type of honor, while given to an individual, is never really about that particular person, but about those that have mentored them or have participated on dozens of teams that gave those results."
This incredible recognition provides independent and objective feedback to the industry about various women who have and/or are making a difference. It enables our professional peer teams at work and in upper management to see that there is more happening in the world than just at the office. People can learn so many unique and effective approaches to help make our world a better place from these leaders. We have so much negativity and impacts to overcome in our world. Sharing these leaders' stories enables others to know that they, too, can overcome and are not alone in their journey.
I think I was in shock for a week when I first found out that I was nominated. As an inaugural event, this was not a known honor to “strive for, or try to win”. It was presented based on merit, facts, decades of performance and the input of others. This indicated that “my” efforts had borne meaningful fruit. This type of honor, while given to an individual, is never really about that particular person, but about those that have mentored them or have participated on dozens of teams that gave those results. I’ve been blessed on my journey to walk alongside some giants who have helped to develop me to help others along their journey. This recognition has been humbling. There are so many others equally deserving. A very cool thing that came from this honor is that I was highlighted in a Detroit Free Press news article by Phoebe Wall-Howard. I used to deliver that paper by bicycle when I was a kid! Alas, they don’t deliver anymore.
Due to Covid, we had to do our “gala” session virtually. The professionalism and technical support of the WiM staff to make that happen was absolutely stunning! Better than I ever had in a work environment or with other society conferences. I had to prepare an acceptance speech video with the help of my family. We did this outside on a beautiful day with lots of fun and sunshine. In doing so, it was so clear how their enduring love, patience, and support enabled me on this journey. A year later, I was able to attend the 2021 session in person as the next group of women were inducted into the Hall of Fame. The networking and learning at this event was incredible. I brought my 23 year old daughter along as a guest. While she’s not in manufacturing (yet) she got so much out of the event. We have made some lasting connections.
I am an avid supporter of the WiMEF and what it stands for. I fully realize that many women may not have the same educational and learning benefits as they begin their journeys. I grew up in a very poor, single parent family. One of my High School teachers helped secure a scholarship for me at a local college. I then worked full time while earning my degrees. That took a long time! I would not have been successful without the support of others. I keenly feel the responsibility to pay it forward. We need to do all we can to help level the playing field just a bit in order to unlock the potential of those that can and want to make a difference.
Elizabeth Griffith, Director of Global Program Management (Retired) - HFI
"WiM is shining a bright light on women manufacturing pioneers – those rare first , those critical few women – that not only embraced but excelled in an environment made by and for men."
Recognition? A tenet of exemplary leadership is recognition. WiM is shining a bright light on women manufacturing pioneers – those rare first , those critical few women – that not only embraced but excelled in an environment made by and for men. Historical perspective indicates manufacturing in any industry is a crucible to hone the very best talent. The captains of industry started or spent significant time in manufacturing. The women who survived and thrived deserve recognition as inspiring examples of resilience, tenacity and sheer ‘let’s make it happen’ leaders. Their contributions need to be showcased as being on par with the industries best manufacturing talent. It sets the stage for the future.
To be recognized as a trailblazer and inducted into the WiM HoF is just amazing – I smile every time I think about it. And when you’re nominated and recognized by your peers? It’s just humbling.
I started my automotive career in an inner city General Motors manufacturing plant 50 years ago. The decades of the unrelenting daily trudge in a quagmire of : trying to do your job; trying to keep the myriad of fire balls in the air; trying not to give up; trying not to cry; trying to keep everyone engaged; trying not to become the dictator that is your favorite management style, I never thought my career in manufacturing/engineering would yield so much joy or bring me here. I started in manufacturing as an accident – I stayed in manufacturing because of the people and the thrill of the pace of innovation and learning. Everyone I mentor and whenever I speak at STEM or other functions – my number one piece of career advice? Start your career in manufacturing – the learning curve is steep but as Dr Seuss said “the places you’ll go”.
My best advice would be to never say no to an opportunity and never stop learning – both a personal and professional goal. You will learn more in manufacturing and how to problem solve quickly and acurately than you will anywhere else. It is an exceptional foundation for you to decide where your career should go. The hidden caveat is that working in manufacturing (operations in particular) gives you a certain cachet or respect – trial by fire. View manufacturing as an extreme sport – everyone has their role to play and you make yourself a better player by cross training.
To close today’s and tomorrow’s talent gap, supporting women’s education & advancement in the manufacturing industry is critical for the rapid digital transformation (AI and Machine learning). It’s just good business. Multiple analytical forums have highlighted that women’s sophisticated interpersonal or emotional intelligence skills (persuasion, collaboration, empathy) as a key differentiator in successful manufacturing of the future. Tremendous potential for women to develop an environment made by all for all.
Leah Curry, President - Toyota Indiana
"I believe that not only is there a place for women in manufacturing; we are essential to the industry’s growth and success."
Recognition like the Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame is extremely important because of the visibility it provides other women to see it is possible to achieve high levels of success in a male-concentrated industry.
Being inducted into the WiM Hall of Fame is important because any honor bestowed upon me is a reflection of the team I lead and the success we have achieved together. Hopefully seeing me being honored in this way inspires other women or boosts their confidence to accept leadership roles within their organizations.
Advice I would give to a woman who is new in her career in manufacturing would be always do the best to your ability. Ask many questions and continue to learn. Dive deep. Put in the time to prove that you are eager to grow. Come to work ready to contribute. Women have diverse backgrounds and abilities of all kinds. Show it. You may be the new kid on the block but don’t let that stop you. Use your voice to add value to your team. They will likely learn just as much from you as you will from them.
Creating opportunities for advancement and promoting developmental programs for women in manufacturing has always been important to me. I believe that not only is there a place for women in manufacturing; we are essential to the industry’s growth and success. STEM programs that nurture a girl’s interest in math and science and expose them to the application of these disciplines is extremely important. This exposure at an early age is the key to increasing the number of women in manufacturing.
The future of women in manufacturing is limitless. The opportunity is great for women in manufacturing. Women just need to have the confidence and encouragement to seize it. I look forward to a day not too far in the future where women in manufacturing will no longer be unusual, it will be the norm, and there will be equal representation among the top leaders in manufacturing.
Luann Rickert, Vice President, Internal Audit (Retired) - John Deere
"I've never done anything for the recognition. My goal has always been to help others. That being said, I think it is important for others in my company and in similar companies to see that they can make a difference too."
Women typically do not promote themselves - we stay in the background ---- but we need to move into the forefront and be seen as role models for others. Young women need to see what is possible. I think this is important for any underrepresented group - as women, we have been underrepresented in manufacturing for a long time - and are still underrepresented. I always say - there are a lot of smart people - and HALF of them are women! Let's get those smart, ambitious women in manufacturing - where we truly have an opportunity to move our industries forward - producing great products for our customers!
I've never done anything for the recognition. My goal has always been to help others. That being said, I think it is important for others in my company and in similar companies to see that they can make a difference too. Leaders should and can help other women at different levels of the organization to continue developing the pipeline and increase the impact women bring to the manufacturing industry. Perhaps my being inducted into the WiM Hall of Fam can help someone else pave the way for another, as well. We all need to do whatever we can - each small step could make a difference to someone. I tried to continually develop those in manufacturing roles already, develop and attract those who were not yet working in the mfg lane, and then advocate on behalf of them to others.
Keep focused on producing great results and building relationships. Try new roles - operations, production control, program management - and learn, learn, learn - about the customer, about the business, about the products. You can make a difference - and your companies need you!
Supporting education and advancement for women is vital because women are vital in all of our organizations. If we truly are going to be the best at what we do, women have an important role to play. Women perhaps have not grown up with manufacturing - and may not have been exposed to the opportunities - or may not have had a mentor. Education is a key - it opens doors. Another reason education is important is because teenagers and young adults are so often asked what they want to be when they grow up or where they want to be in 5, 10 years. It’s important that women are educated on the opportunities in manufacturing so that they can start to envision it in their future. While it does happen, it’s harder for people to switch career paths mid-career.
Possibilities! They're endless!!