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Leadership Development Is a Key Theme at Women in Manufacturing Summit

Posted By David Brousell, September 23, 2016 at 6:45 AM, in Category: Next-Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce

WiM-Logo-for-website.jpgMore women in key manufacturing leadership positions would help companies improve their business performance, including decision-making and even profitability and shareholder value.

That was the message from a panel discussion on the importance of leadership development last week at the sixth Women in Manufacturing (WiM) Summit, held in Nashville, TN.

Citing statistics that show that women comprise 29% of the manufacturing workforce but that only five percent have risen to the CEO level, panel chair Dr. Kathleen Buse, Adjunct Professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, said that greater numbers of women in leadership positions would benefit manufacturing companies broadly.

“There is a business case to have more women in leadership,” Buse said.

But Buse said that greater leadership representation can only occur if there is “positive, intentional” change undertaken at industry companies.

And a big part of this change has to be instigated by women themselves. Earlier this year, Buse helped launch a leadership development program called Leadership Lab for Women in Manufacturing that has been jointly developed by WiM and Case Western. The program, which is conducted for eight days over the course of three months, emphasizes emotional intelligence, negotiation, and communications training; coaching; and development of a personal vision and confidence building skills.

Participants in the program from four companies on the panel – Pridgeon & Clay, Inc., a metal stampings manufacturer based in Grand Rapids, MI; GE Appliances, now a part of Haier Group of Qingdao, China; TRUMPF, Inc., a manufacturer of sheet metal fabrication equipment and industrial lasers based in Farmington, CT; and Carbon3D, Inc., a 3D printer company founded in 2013 and based in Redwood City, CA --  said the course enabled them to build greater self-confidence and to learn how to communicate more effectively in working environments that several of the panelists described as male dominated.

“Creating a personal vision was a huge concept for me,” said Dana McCallum, a business development manager at Carbon3D. She said that she is now leading a business unit within her company.

Christy Mudd, a lean transformation leader at the Bottom Freezer Refigerator plant at GE Appliances, said that the Case Western program has enabled her to more effectively integrate into the team she works with and to gain greater respect in the process.

“It has gone from ‘Christy’s talking again’ to ‘Christy, what should we do next?’” she said.

Tammy Noxon, manager of credit and collections at TRUMPF, said the program enabled her to develop a personal set of goals and to get much more comfortable with speaking her mind.

“It was about taking the dreams and thoughts out of my head,” she said. “I went to my boss and asked for another position. It was huge for me to verbalize that.”

And Stacey Broom, an engineering program manager at Pridgeon & Clay, said she improved her team-building and communications skills. She said she has learned to communicate with team members in a much more “rational, normal” way.

The next Leadership Lab program will be held starting in March of 2017. www.womeninmanufacturing.org/leadership-lab/register


Written by David Brousell

Global Vice President, General Manager and Editorial Director of the Manufacturing Leadership Council

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