Why I Attend the WiM SUMMIT


Why I Attend the WIM SUMMIT

Women in Manufacturing’s annual conference, the WiM SUMMIT, is on the horizon, taking place from September 25 - 27, 2023 in San Diego as well as virtually. The WiM SUMMIT aims to unite, inspire, and empower manufacturing professionals from all over the country with more than 50 speakers including keynote presentations, educational sessions, plant tours, roundtable discussions and social events, making this one conference you don’t want to miss. We spoke to two passionate repeat attendees, Mary Ellen Grom from AFL and Michele Kienle from American Crane & Equipment Corporation, to ask what they cherish the most about the Wim SUMMIT.

Building Meaningful Connections: For Mary Ellen Grom, the Executive Director of Customer Experience Solutions at AFL, the WiM SUMMIT’s real value lies in the connections it fosters. “I have made friends all over North America because of the WiM SUMMIT. I've made friends with people who I will go see for no business reason. That is powerful because I have a personal saying — you connect the people, the dots will follow,” says Grom. By forging friendships across the continent, the WiM SUMMIT has opened doors to new perspectives, opportunities, and collaborative efforts.

Michele Kienle, Marketing Manager at American Crane & Equipment Corporation agrees – “You meet all these other women, and the energy is awesome. I can't replicate that. It is very eye-opening, empowering and supportive. I made a lot of connections and friends from that very first WiM SUMMIT.”

Gaining Practical Knowledge: Conversations had at the WiM SUMMIT offer opportunities to connect over business practices. “I love the real-world practical knowledge that we walk away with,” says Grom. Whether it pertains directly to her role at AFL or another department within the organization, Grom returns to work eager to share these valuable insights. “I will come back from the WiM SUMMIT and share that I heard GE Healthcare is doing these five things within their ERG or they're doing these things for working moms. It opens my eyes and allows me to question, why aren't we doing that? Sometimes we get so focused working in our business that we forget to step away and see the big picture. And the WiM SUMMIT always does that for me.”

Eye-Opening Plant Tours: For both Grom and Kienle the plant tours during WiM SUMMIT are a standout experience. “When you get to see the whole process, where you get to see the design or the concept or the engineering behind something and then you see it grow to the finished product, it's pretty amazing,” says Kienle. “You get to see firsthand these different worlds of manufacturing.”

For Grom, the plant tours reiterate for her the essential role of manufacturing in meeting human needs and brings out a sense of purpose and pride in her career choice. “Your eyeballs pop out of your head when you see how things are made. We take it for granted every day. When you pull back the curtain and get an opportunity to go inside manufacturing plants, it is fascinating. It kind of touches your inner core to realize that you are in an industry that is always going to be here. It’s affirming that you've chosen a career in the right industry,” says Grom.

Empowerment and Relatability: Grom and Kienle both recalled the excitement of connecting with numerous other women working in the manufacturing industry and the supportive atmosphere that enveloped them. “As women, we experience things in the workplace that sometimes we have a hard time finding our voice to speak up about. It’s empowering and it's encouraging when you find this common connection. It makes you feel like you're not the only one and you're not out there going through it alone,” says Grom.

Kienle echoes this sentiment and finds it particularly impactful when she gets to connect with other attendees during dinners and in small-group sessions. “You really get to know people in a more closed format,” says Kienle. “You're in a smaller group, relaxed and you get to just kick back and talk. This gives us an opportunity to not just be proud of who we are as women but as human beings. We can make a difference whether it's in a big way or in a small way. It has a ripple effect.”

Both women agreed that the relatability of attendees created a safe space for everyone to discuss challenges and triumphs without hesitation.

Shaping Your Experience: Both Grom and Kienle emphasized the importance of putting in the effort at WiM SUMMIT, acknowledging that what you put into the experience is what you will get out of the experience. “I think people should really view an opportunity to participate in SUMMIT as something extraordinary. Don't treat it as just another conference. If you walk in with the attitude that you are going to walk away with something more than you came with, and you’re going to contribute to the conversations, and you’re going to raise your hand, and you’re going to be visible and vocal and ask questions and share ideas, you’re going to get out of SUMMIT what you put in. It's so enriching and so rewarding,” says Grom.

To hear what others are saying about the WiM SUMMIT, click here.

To learn more about this year’s WiM SUMMIT and to register, click here.