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Manufacturing Is Not a Man’s World, It Is an Innovator’s World

By: Erica Wiegel, President, ARO Metal Stamping – Roselle, IL

WHY IS MANUFACTURING A GREAT CAREER CHOICE?

People ask me, “Why is manufacturing a great career choice for women?” Well, my answer is, it’s an outstanding career choice for women for the same reasons it’s an outstanding career choice for any driven and mechanically-oriented man.  To start, manufacturing is a steady industry that supports ongoing professional growth. The difference between seeking a job in another industry versus a career in manufacturing is that manufacturing enables you to continually add tools to your toolbox. Every skill you master and experience you gain is a tool; these tools are robust, they never get old, and they can be built upon.

In most industries, beginning a new job means you have to leave your tools behind in favor of the new company’s custom set of tools or rules. Manufacturing, however, allows you to progress through a career, become more and more valuable, and ultimately assemble a master toolbox of desirable knowledge and abilities. Every successful manufacturer is a lifelong learner.

WHAT SHOULD WOMEN WHO ARE NEW TO MANUFACTURING EXPECT?

  • Come in with an open mind as you would with any new position.
  • Anticipate being outnumbered by men. I believe I was one of only four girls in my graduating class from the Northern Illinois University industrial engineering program.
  • Likewise, networking events are predominately made up by men. My experience has proven this to be an advantage. In an industry as competitive as manufacturing, being different could result in the introduction you’ve been needing to quote the next big deal.
  • Build connections. Manufacturing is a close community that needs to work together to succeed. Associations are great networks for connecting with potential suppliers, customers, business mentors, and new friends. I am proud to be an active member of the Technology and Manufacturing Association of Illinois (TMA), Women in Manufacturing (WiM), and the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA).
  • Voice your opinions. I believe that women can do everything as well as men, and often we even take a new approach or offer fresh perspective. Women tend to “turn the box” while men tend to look at it straight on.

WHAT ADVANTAGES ARE AVAILABLE TO WOMEN IN MANUFACTURING?

I spent most of my professional life moving up the career ladder at my family’s company, Wiegel Tool Works. But last year I recognized an opportunity that I could not pass up. In July 2015, I purchased ARO Metal Stamping in Roselle, IL.

Since taking over ARO, our customers were particularly excited to hear I was pursuing the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certificate. Many major manufacturers have internal standards that require approximately 30 percent of their product or operations be supplied by minority-owned companies. There is a need out there, but it’s often hard for them to connect with quality suppliers that have both the required capability and capacity. ARO is now WBENC-certified and can help meet that quota.

HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE..

Manufacturing is the perfect fit for those who like to design, are excited by the idea of bringing concepts to life, and for individuals who thrive on challenge, thinking differently, and lifelong learning. Manufacturing is an art form. It’s a craft. And most importantly, it’s an extremely viable career for both young women and men exploring their futures.


Erica Wiegel is President of ARO Metal Stamping, Inc., a turn-key source for metal stampings and assemblies, from prototype through production. She is passionate on the topic of workforce development and particularly about the career opportunities that exist for women in manufacturing. Be sure to watch the #NewRosie video featuring Erica and some of her female employees.

 

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