Timken Co.
Louise Dalton Social 606fbfcbbdaa6

‘Early on, I Learned to Take Calculated Risks’

April 9, 2021
Manufacturing offered opportunity for Timken Co.’s Louise Dalton to rise from humble beginnings.

As a female working in a male-dominated environment, I developed, early on in my career, a willingness to go up against what were often rather intimidating challenges. This instilled in me a drive to prove myself over and over again, which has prepared me well for everything that’s followed.

When I was just 16 years old, I had a good idea of what my career journey would look like. Growing up in the United Kingdom, I knew of only two paths to success—enter a two-year program at a tertiary college or go into a trade.

I chose the latter of the two and started working as a technician apprentice for a major helicopter manufacturer. I found myself as a female apprentice working in a training school alongside 45 young men. While that was challenging, I was filled with ambition and chose to persevere. Early on, I learned to take calculated risks and frequently push myself out of my comfort zone. That approach has led me around the world and, now, to a leadership role for a major global manufacturer.

Here are three approaches I’ve taken to keep my career on track with my ambitious goals:

1. Develop a diverse skillset. While working during the day and taking classes at night, I gained a variety of skills, including welding and technical drawing as well as how to operate a lathe, milling machine and punch press to build parts. After two years as a technician apprentice, I entered a four-year degree program at Brunel University London, which consisted of alternating between working and attending university over six-month periods. I continued taking the necessary steps to fulfill my vision and achieve my professional goals.

2. Say “yes” to opportunities. After graduating from Brunel, I packed my bags and headed for the U.S. I eventually found my niche at the Timken Company. I started there as a manager of manufacturing engineering and continued transitioning into managing roles in key functional areas. During my time working for Timken in the Northeast, I also furthered my education by earning an executive MBA. By continuing to accept new challenges, I amassed a wide range of expertise in engineering, global distribution, global business analytics and aerospace, an industry I already knew well from my time at the helicopter company where I started my career.

3. Stay hungry. Celebrating 12 years at Timken, I recently accepted a position at the company’s world headquarters in North Canton, Ohio, as director of global supply chain. In this role, I lead core supply chain functions and strategize ways to further improve processes across all aspects of logistics, business process optimization and customer-facing engagements. While this is the next stop on my career journey, I don’t see it as the final destination. That’s why I’m tackling this role with the same drive and determination I had as a young apprentice.

While these approaches have worked well for me, I also know the importance of having an employer and colleagues who believe in you. We all need to find that right fit. At Timken, I’m privileged to collaborate with ethical, smart and highly engaged leaders who embrace diversity of thought, authenticity and fresh perspectives. They give me confidence to take on any challenge, no matter how insurmountable it seems to be. I hope you can find that in your career, too.

Louise Dalton is director, global supply chain for the Timken Company. Named to this position in 2020, Dalton is responsible for leading the company’s global supply chain function, which includes demand planning, supply and inventory planning, logistics, warehousing and global customer service. In addition, she leads the continuous improvement and business process execution teams within the supply chain organization.

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