Collaboration: What Women Bring To The Manufacturing Table

Aug. 3, 2007
Three women create a manufacturing process outsourcing solution.

Wendy Beam, Susan Dillon and Patricia Stansbury, all of The Holland Group, have developed an outsourcing manufacturing function, called Manufacturing Process Outsourcing, that is the culmination and combination of their collective talent across their careers in manufacturing. While Beam and Dillon came from Whirlpool, Stansbury picked up her experience through a variety of companies.

What they have in common is the desire to bring their own brand of creativity and innovation to manufacturing companies where they can create processes and then track and measure them.

"Manufacturing is excellent place to see how your efforts pay off. We can creative an improvement, see it in process and then measure our success," says Beam who is vice president of Holland Outsourcing and Holland operations. The Holland Group is a human resources and process Management company headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

It's getting her hands in the process that led Stansbury to Holland's outsourcing group. "I had started out as an engineering at Ford where I also earned my Six Sigma Black Belt. After moving through a few other positions I wanted to come to a process oriented position where I had tangible tasks and results."

See more on women in manufacturing, including additional articles and educational resources.
Dillon, who spent 22 years at Whirlpool prior to taking on the role of director of Manufacturing Process Outsourcing, also gravitates towards the finite measurements of results. "I was able to guide the concept of lean, when it was in the beginning stages of being applied to manufacturing process, and take it across my company. It was very satisfying to witness the positive effect it had on the company," she says.

Moving a company forward was particularly challenging for Beam during her time at Whirlpool as the company, and the industry in general, moved from a strong profit position to a strong loss within a short period of time. "We had to be innovative to stay in business. We all rose to the challenge and I have never settled for complacency in any work that I have done since that moment," she says.

Dillon too has found that complacency has no part in business today. "If I make a 20% improvement this year, next year I have to come up with an other 20% improvement. You have to keep moving to stay ahead of the competition."

One way that all three of these women are able to keep their clients ahead of the competition is was their ability to be collaborative in their efforts. Through their various training and experience they are able to not only put together teams of people necessary to make improvements, but they have also learned how to communication these changes.

Beam, who for many years was the director of training at Whirlpool understands that in her current position of providing outsourcing to her clients, it is her ability to communicate with the people who will be involved in the process of change that makes all of the difference. "Where a team has been able to have input into the process and where lines of communications are open wide, the results are remarkable."

All three of these women feel that manufacturing offers them a place to put their talents to work and they would like to see more women enter the field. "I actively mentor women as was done for me when I was at Ford. Manufacturing, by its very nature, is a dynamic environment that women can excel in as it challenges them to use all of their many talents to seek out solutions," sais Stansbury.

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!