West Michigan execs win national STEP awards
A trio of West Michigan women have won national STEP awards from a nonprofit working to develop talent in the manufacturing industry, where women are under represented.
Jo-Anne Perkins, VP and general manager of Cascade Cart Solutions at Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids, and Mae Zyjewski, senior director global advanced manufacturing at Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor, were both honored by the Manufacturing Institute as 2015 STEP award winners.
Additionally, the Manufacturing Institute recognized Caitlin Townsend Lamb, manager of Cascade Enterprise System at Cascade Engineering, as an Emerging Leader.
The women were among 130 women to be honored during this year’s STEP Ahead Awards last month at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
STEP Ahead Awards
The Manufacturing Institute launched the Science, Technology, Engineering and Production, or STEP, Ahead initiative in 2012 “to honor and promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership.”
The STEP Ahead initiative honors women in the manufacturing industry who have “demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers" and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C suite.
STEP Ahead seeks to inspire the next generation of female leaders to pursue a career in manufacturing and showcase opportunities in the manufacturing industry.
Women make up about 50 percent of the labor force and about 24 percent of the manufacturing labor force.
Perkins joined Cascade Cart Solutions in 2001 and quickly moved through the ranks, gaining recognition as a "leader and innovator" in North America’s solid waste and recycling industry.
She doubled group revenues through a dual emphasis on new and organic business growth during the economic recession, according to the Manufacturing Institute’s website.
She has initiated smart technology and recycled alternative material manufacturing within the division.
Perkins has also initiated the successful “Pink Cart” campaign.
"In honor of my mother, I brought to market a pink breast cancer recycling cart,” Perkins said. “We have sold over 100,000 carts and raised $500,000 for the American Cancer Society.”
With more than 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry, one of Zyjewski's most significant accomplishments has been her role in creating the function of Global Advanced Manufacturing as a new capability at Whirlpool.
Whirlpool said Global Advanced Manufacturing is “revolutionizing the way Whirlpool gains leverage across the global manufacturing footprint.”
Additionally, Whirlpool said Zyjewski has led groups to generating bottom-line cost savings of up to $20 million annually by implementing new process technologies and developing optimized manufacturing processes.
She has also played a significant role in making these processes become accepted as the global standard within Whirlpool manufacturing and continues to provide solutions based on optimized cost, productivity, rational capital investment, equipment flexibility and re-configurability.
“I‘m passionate about manufacturing, because that is where it all comes together — a great product design, solid manufacturing processes and product engineering come to life at the hands of many dedicated, hard-working people,” Zyjewski said.
Caitlin Townsend Lamb
Townsend Lamb joined Cascade Engineering as an executive assistant and project coordinator.
Her commitment, skills and active pursuit of opportunities to sit on corporate committees, including the diversity and inclusion committee, helped her attain her manager role with the company.
She has a leadership role in deploying the company-wide lean strategy identified as the Cascade Enterprise System.
She began leading annual Transformational Value Stream Analysis events for Cascade’s multiple business units in 2013, and in 2014, she took ownership of the preparation and execution of the process for all businesses at corporate headquarters.
“Make yourself an asset to your organization,” Townsend Lamb said. “Invest in your personal and professional education, nurture your networks, build high-trust relationships, stay open to new ideas and always take the opportunity to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and learn something new about yourself, your organization or your industry.”
Other Michigan winners
The Manufacturing Institute honored three other Michigan women with STEP awards: Ursula Bongiovanni, president of Innovative Automation in Romulus; Annette Crandall, president of Quality Assured Plastics in Lawrence; and Jodi Fultz, superintendent of manufacturing engineering at General Motors in Flint.