One in a Manufacturing Day series that celebrates the industry’s workers, from the C-Suite to the shop floor.
Name: Jill Bellak
City/State of Residence: Libertyville, Illinois
Job Title: President
Company: MBX Systems
Years with Company: 17
Industry of Your Company: Network Service Appliance Manufacturing
Training / Education: University of Illinois at Chicago (business management), Northwestern University—Kellogg School of Management (Accelerating Sales Force Performance, The Science of Lean Operations)
What made you decide to pursue a career in manufacturing?
I started off by selling computer parts at a company where my brother worked. At the time, I didn’t know the difference between a hard drive and a floppy disk. At first, the owner wouldn’t hire me because I didn’t have experience in technology. Within 30 days, I was outselling everybody on the floor. Eventually I was hired as vice president of sales at Midwest Computer Works. I later learned of an opportunity with a startup called Motherboard Express, founded by Tom Crowley, which grew into MBX. I joined MBX as Vice President of Sales and Marketing in 1999 and was later promoted to COO in 2006 and assumed the position of President in 2012.
What does your job entail?
I spend part of my time working as a member of the MBX Executive Management Team strategizing around the long-term success of the company and the rest of it working directly with our customers and our internal operations to ensure we can be responsive to their unique needs, while fulfilling our commitment to deliver the highest quality products and services.
What is the most interesting part of your job? Your proudest moment?
The most interesting part of my job has always been the people. Making sure we have the right people in the right places and that they not only have the skill set needed but, more importantly, they fit the culture of MBX and always put the customer first. My proudest moment in business was in 2013 when I won the Gold and Silver Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the world’s top honors for female entrepreneurs, executives, employees and the organizations they run.
What do you love about manufacturing? Manufacturing in general has that reputation where it’s seen as this sort of dirty, backroom industry. That perception needs to change because technology is so strong in manufacturing now. I love that the scope of manufacturing has changed so much, a lot of it is about data, technology and analysis.
What advice would you give to kids considering a job in manufacturing?
There aren’t many women seeking out manufacturing leadership roles, but I think it’s getting better. Don’t be afraid. I think sometimes our preconceived notions can get in our way. If you think you can’t do something, then you’ll probably see what you expect to see. Don’t think because you’re a woman you can’t get that promotion or get to the next level. Lastly, study software engineering. It’s such a hot field and the way everything is going.