Purpose, Relationships & Women in Industry with Mavens of Manufacturing.

Episode Transcription

Laura Timbrook
Welcome to the manufacturing wellness podcast. Our mission is to help improve your workforces overall health and well being. I’m your host, Laura Timbrook, a national board certified health and wellness coach and wellbeing strategist for the manufacturing industry.

Laura Timbrook
Hey everybody, welcome to the manufacturing wellness podcast. I am your host, Laura Timbrook A lot of times when we think of wellness. We think of sleep, we think of nutrition, and we think of exercise wellness goes further than that, a larger part of our overall wellness is purpose and relationships. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about today, with Meghan Ziemba from Mavens of Manufacturing. She has a YouTube channel that promotes women that are in the manufacturing industry that is spreading awareness for our manufacturing in skilled trades, it’s all about relationships and purpose. And that’s exactly what manufacturing wellness is about. So I hope you guys enjoy today’s episode, well, Megan, thank you so much for joining us. Well thanks for having me more appreciate it. Yeah, and can you tell everybody a little bit about yourself and your YouTube series.

Yeah, so my name is Megan Zimba, I am the host of mavens manufacturing, I have been writing for manufacturing since 2008, and throughout my career I’ve always enjoyed learning from multiple people learning about their stories and what their passions are, and especially within the manufacturing industry. A lot of people love the hands on work that they’re doing and the products that they’re making and designing, especially if it’s something that’s changing someone else’s life and that passion, always gave me a passion to tell their stories in ways that they weren’t able to do, or worded the way that they wanted to Where did where I’m working now. I’m still doing the writing and telling the story of the company that I work for right now, but I was always missing that interview, perspective of things being a part of manufacturing and part of certain groups like women in manufacturing and women of today’s manufacturing which is a small organization in Rockford, Illinois, one of the main topics was the skills gap. And another topic was the lack of women in manufacturing, which always caught my interest so I decided to combine all of my passions with writing storytelling interviewing and women empowerment into a YouTube series called mavens of manufacturing in my main goals with this series is to not only bring awareness to US manufacturing, but bring awareness to younger generations who might be struggling with what career path they want to take, after high school and before they get into college, I went to school for years and longer I have my master’s in professional and technical writing and not necessarily liking that decision right now because of the amount of student loan debt that I still have left to pay off. And I just don’t think that for your colleges for everyone to pursue or think about I think there is huge benefits and advantages, knowing what you’re interested in and knowing what your passion is and maybe applying to a technical school or getting involved in apprenticeships, that’s another thing that I would like to bring awareness to is that you don’t necessarily have to go to a four year college or more to be successful and figure out your career pathway, the trades is a great place for most younger generations to consider. I’m just interviewing a bunch of women that you know are leading the pathway in manufacturing, I’m interviewing CEOs I’m interviewing. Sales Managers I’m interviewing students different levels of where they’re at in their career, to help showcase the many opportunities that are in manufacturing and in the sector and I think even now with some of the advancements in technology and some of the trends that are coming out like aI industry of things, robotics, automation, there’s so many more opportunities that are going to be opening up, especially for anyone that’s interested in computer programming, or computer maintenance. There’s computer design, different things like that so it’s not just that dirty doll dangerous environment there’s so much more to it now than people realize. Yeah, and you know, that is so true. Manufacturing is so much more than we think of when we think of what our career in manufacturing looks like. So tell us a little bit about how you got started in manufacturing, I kind of fell into the sector by accident when I applied for trade publication opportunity available on Madison, Wisconsin, and I just fell in love with it and it’s just it’s such a great industry to be involved with, because there’s so many different things happening now especially I mean, if you look at the aerospace industry. We landed on Mars, and everything that was involved in that event. There’s manufacturing behind it, I mean they had so many components that went on to that rover, but each one of those components had to be manufactured from raw material, and then you have the camera system that’s on there and then you have all the computer stuff because there’s someone here on Earth. That’s actually navigating that robot, loss, so many miles, light years away.

Meaghan Ziemba
So it’s just a great sector and I think there’s so many opportunities and I want to bring awareness to that. And, I mean if you read all the Deloitte studies out there to women only make up, like 20% or 30% of the sector and that’s a very small percentage compared to how big executor is so I want to increase that number hopefully over 50% I would like to see more women than men in this sector, because being a woman, we do things differently and we think differently than men, and that adds to the innovation and that adds to profit margins and it also adds to collaboration and brainstorming and you just have a better heart to pick from, when you make an all inclusive car, including more women it’s just better for the sector, and then you know just providing a platform for the manufacturers themselves out there because we do have the skills gap that’s coming up a lot of complaints that I’m hearing from manufacturers is they cannot find skilled workers to fill the positions that they have. So those are my main goals for the series and I’ve already talked to quite a few women men learn their stories and her you know some of their pain points that they’re trying to solve in the leadership positions that they’re in and I just you know want to continue sharing that story to other people and not just the people who are already involved in manufacturing but also younger generations, to let them know, Hey, you can have a very successful career, you’re changing the way how our world works, so it’s a very purposeful sector in the MO. Yeah, absolutely. And it’s interesting when you talk about the college debt, you know, because that’s really it’s so true. I mean I went through I tried college out for half a second and college didn’t work for me and I went through many different technical schools, everything from computer networking to nutrition kind of went through a gauntlet of them including us, then, as a show dog groomer, but it’s interesting because out of all that education, I had an even with a successful 15 year corporate job, I still might I had zero student loan, I mean even when I went and learned computer networking, I went to school for $6,000 I was managing, you know, global teams around the world, most of them with computer science degrees some of their master’s degrees, I had $6,000 worth of schooling. So I think we need to look at that because it’s a real thing you have so many kids coming out of college with 150 200 grand worth of debt and it’ll be debt that they have forever. And when we talk about wellness I mean, financial health is, is a real big part of it because it’s one of our number one stressors. Yeah, And especially if you are considering having a family of your own I have three kids. My oldest is actually graduating next year and unfortunately schooling is something that I will not be able to help her out with like my parents were able to help out with me, and I am trying desperately to just instill it in her like you do not know exactly what you want to do, go to tech school first get some of that hands on experience and she knows she wants to do something with the medical industry, she’s just not for sure what she wants to do, so she’s thinking about applying to, like, all the local tech schools in our community, just to get our generals out of the way and then eventually I think she wants to work her way into the Rochester University of Minnesota, because it’s connected with a Mayo Clinic, but I told her I was like, even with the medical industry if you’re going to go through that industry it’s, it’s an expensive schooling, it’s not cheap at all and I know a lot of great nurses out there I know a lot of great X ray technicians who went to technical school for two years and they’re having a thriving career. I mean, if I would have done anything over, it would have been to have a plan established before I left

Laura Timbrook
Before we actually started recording I was kind of sharing, because I came from corporate wellness, is that a lot of people in corporate are telling their children not to go to corporate to go work with their hands because their stress levels are so high, it’s causing heart issues and their mental health is declining and, you know, I can’t tell you how many times it’s I just tell my kids go work with your hands do something that’s happy. But then, now being in the manufacturing end of it, I hear the exact same thing from the manufacturing telling their kids go to college, go get an office job, don’t ruin your health and neither one is the right answer what it really should be is find something you love to do and do that, you know, because so many kids are so good with their hands that they go to college, I mean my brothers both did the same thing they got their four years degrees, And my one brother is a electrician and my other ones working on solar. So, both have gone into the trade industry after going through that four year college because they just never focused on what they really love to do so, yeah, do what you love and then figure out the rest but neither one should be that we have to sacrifice our health.

Meaghan Ziemba
In doing so, absolutely be thoughtful, be mindful of what your passion is and try to work that into what you want to do for the rest of your life, because then, this is really cliche to say you’re not going to work a day in your life if you do what you love doing

Laura Timbrook
100%, you know it’s interesting. My daughter is in cosmetology school right now, and we were talking about where she wants to go after she graduates and she gets her license, and she’s like, I think I’m going to go to county college, and I looked at I said, you have your license to go do cosmetology she wants to get into special effects makeup and hand sewing rings, like that’s her thing and why are we going to go to college, not that Kelly College is a bad idea but why she goes, Well, I just kind of feel like you have to was like you ask though, I’m like if there’s a reason for you to go if you want business classes and things like that, I said but just to go there because you feel like you have to wait. Make sure that’s the direction you want to go in but you know start working that career if there’s something you think that you like, go for him, you know, I keep telling her, I’m like, even if you get into that industry and realize that’s not where you want to be. It’s always something to fall back on should something happen, you have that education fall back on and I think that’s where tech schools and things like that offer so much because you can learn how to fix your own heating and air conditioning, you could learn how to work on your own cars that even if you don’t go into that industry it’s still knowledge that will just help you in life.

Meaghan Ziemba
Yeah, I mean, you learn a ton of those soft and hard skills combined, I mean when I graduated with my master’s degree, I thought it was gonna be really simple to just find something and go and that wasn’t the case at all and I look at my daughter, I’m where she’s at. I mean, I was kind of making fun of her the other day we were doing grocery shopping because we use the self checkout and she’s like, Well can I scan because I don’t want to back, I don’t want to catch or you can scan well she started having trouble when she was scanning the vegetables and stuff she was like, I don’t know what this is and I’m like, Yeah, learn, Figure it out like this, this is a skill you’re going to need cuz you’re out of the house after next year, like, Y’all are gonna do this on your own. I’m not gonna be there, hold your hand, and it was something so thankful and I just started thinking about it and like, she, she hasn’t really had a lot of those experiences where she did a lot of hands on stuff so she’s kind of hesitant, they she’s afraid of making mistakes, I think, with apprenticeships and internships and hands on learning, they kind of, you know, they encouraged mistakes they encourage failure, because that’s how you learn how to do things and problem solve. So, and I see it all the time with like tic tock and everything it’s just crazy. It’s crazy how creative they can be, but they don’t connect the dots, they don’t think oh this is something that connect, I can do with a future career and they just think it’s a social media platform to get a certain number of likes, you know, that’s so true.


Laura Timbrook
I haven’t thought of it that way but you’re right I mean even like the Tic Tock, or Twitch gamers ,I just saw one the other day, where he had like four cameras behind him like he had to create these mounts up and over I was like that is really, that’s a lot of initiative right and creativity to come up with that and the mounts he created and, you know, just working with your hands and utilizing, I have this tool and this tool and this part and I can create something that fits his purpose so you’re so right.

Meaghan Ziemba
I didn’t even think of it that way but absolutely, I mean, and that’s a great point because manufacturers now, especially with the CNC industry they’re looking for ways to get cameras inside the machine so you can actually see the machine cutting the tool, but it’s kind of a risky environment for camera stuff because if a tip or something gets in the camera, there’s like a fluid spray to help keep the park cool back and record camera stuff too, so most of the cameras that you see with CNC machining is on the outside and that kind of gets distorted because it’s not directly on the inside of the face but the actual comings happening. So, yeah, maybe they’re hiring department needs to go tweet to streamers and like to elaborate setups because they might have some interesting ways, you know I had, you know, just the manufacturing industry as a whole is so inventive so if you could tell the generation that’s been extremely inventive and bring that into that industry, I think you have kind of a win situation at that point. Absolutely. And I know you’ve been in the manufacturing industry for a while. Tell me some about your experiences in the manufacturing industry so I have been more on the marketing side of things and project management, I, a long time ago I actually worked at a tooling company in the shipping department. My dad was the VP of sales for the United States, or North American region, and it was a lot of fun to hear the different stories of the people on the shop floor, and learning about different dye cutters and cutting tools and drill bits and things like that because we actually had to kind of inspect them a little bit to see if they were sharp enough and it was the right cutting tool. Before we sent them out and it was an interesting experience working with my dad and I would not ever do that again I love my father but we are very two different minds and it was just really difficult to work with him but then from there I just have been on the marketing side of things and trying to figure out okay how do we make this product interesting enough to get people to like it and really be fans of it, because not everyone is, you know like a Harley Davidson, or a Samsung or, you know there’s companies out there that do things that wouldn’t be really entertaining or interesting to most people, I can provide the company that I work for now photo fab which is a photochemical etching company, I never heard of photochemical etching before working for this company. And it basically is a metal fabrication process that uses chemicals to create parts so instead of cutting or stamping or printing out a part, it takes a thin sheet of metal, and then a CAD drawing is actually.

Meaghan Ziemba
I don’t want to say it’s laser down there, it can be, but you can also use UV lighting to get the picture on the piece of metal. And then there’s a bunch of other steps involved where you have to make some of the metal hard and keep some of the metal soft with adding photoresist on there so it’s kind of like what they used to do back in the day for old fashioned photography, where you have your negative and your positive film. And Kodak was part of the process with these photoresist and then it goes through these baths of chemicals to add some way that soft material and then what’s left over is the actual part so it’s a very linear process there isn’t really a lot of room for innovation, with you know, some of these CNC machines that are out there I know they went from like a single cutting tool to like five axes where you can kind of different axes, and all that other stuff but photochemical editing has pretty much remained the same for over the last 50 years the newest innovation now is using digital image imaging machines where you don’t have to create a photo tool, which is the traditional way so that’s really the only innovation that has occurred within the industry over the last 50 years, but it’s pretty straightforward, pretty simple, but the benefit of chemically adding metal part like that, is it doesn’t create any stress on the actual metal like laser or stamping. So it’s actually better for certain industries like medical or Aerospace, because it doesn’t have any thing that’s Ultra alternating that metals. Validity basically so it tighter tolerances and there’s less app of like catastrophic failure versus something that’s cut or stamped because if you get like tiny burrs on something you don’t want that in a medical application or aerospace application because there’s lives that are involved with those products so it’s a really interesting, interesting fabrication process and a lot of people would not think it’s as cool as it really is. So my job is to make their story interesting and get people to like that fabrication process over other memory fabrication processes, well I’m already very interested in because that is like really cool. Yeah, that can any, anybody that’s listening that is interested in chemistry, this would be your, your dream job is all about chemistry and working with different acids and different ad chains, because it’s going to be different for the type of metal so coppers, really easy to add aluminum is easy to edge but it’s challenging because it’s so I don’t want to say thing because you can have different thicknesses, but it’s a challenge to edge because of how easy it is. And then titanium its makeup makes it one of the more difficult metals to etch and photo fab used to etch Titanium, but because of the acid is so coating, it actually was eating away that machine so the machinery doesn’t really have a life long life cycle so and they’re not cheap machines either so in order for us to start etching titanium again we’re going to have to purchase a new machine which is not cheap at all but it will be interesting to see, you know if there is any more innovations on the chemical side of things, because it is chemistry that they’re using to get these parts up.

Laura Timbrook
I love how you just tied in that someone that’s interested in chemistry, this could be fun. You don’t have to work in, you know the traditional labs that you think that you can have something that’s, you know, creative and different than what Yeah, told in high school, because I would have never known that that was an option in high school, like yes, you know you thought of chemistry is okay, You’re a science teacher you’re working for, you know, a company like L’Oreal creating hair products or something like that that there. There’s other implementations for it so that’s really great. Now, I know how have you seen the industry grow with women in the past few years, like what have you really been seeing becoming trends.

Meaghan Ziemba
So when I first started out at the table location that I started writing for back in 2008, my very first trade so, my boss at the time, it was David manti. He kind of warned me and he’s like okay, if people make comments just be professional in this manner is kind of like taken aback by it because I didn’t really understand what he was talking about and like talking about if made comments like why would anybody make comments. So when we were walking the tradeshow floor. There was a lot of comments made towards how I was looking and you know people not looking me directly in the eye when they’re talking and looking other places and they’re just like, this is really uncomfortable like what is going on and I think out of the entire place plays have, you know 3000 attendees that day that were there, I was maybe one of 100 women, maybe, so that’s for today and there are more and more women that you see at these trade shows, but it’s still pretty male dominated. Um, there’s still people that make comments, they’re still boosts that will hire their booth bunny is what they’re called are women models to get people to come to their loose and there’s still that stigma of it but there are a lot more women who are in leadership positions which is fantastic to see. And it’s great to talk to them and to hear their stories, so it is getting better, and you do see a lot of improvement, but we’re still only that 28 to 30% representation and I think within the leadership, it’s still around, one or 2% that women represent the leadership with the landing of the rover on Mars, it was great to see all of the live video that they did that day because there were so many women involved in that room, and I love seeing that and they did a couple of live webinars since then to, to explain the helicopter that they have on the rover. And one of the speakers was a woman and she was talking about the technology that was involved in the helicopter, and it was just great to see that so there’s still a lot of opportunities for women to thrive in that sector and I think you know if they continue to resist all, you know what their passion is and what they like, they can find a place within manufacturing that will help passion, and I mean all of it, I don’t think there’s one, and maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think there’s one place in manufacturing that isn’t valuable. I think every opportunity in manufacturing provides some type of value in the world, because you’re making something that’s going to be used, and it’s going to make a difference, anything that you make, whether it’s packaging, whether it’s a metal part, whether it’s a plastic bag, or it’s going to be used for something that’s value right there so it’s a good sector to belong to, I think,

Laura Timbrook
I completely agree and you know it’s so interesting to see how innovative manufacturing can be you know, back in 2020 How many manufacturing facilities we’re retooling machines to create something that they normally don’t create to help the general public, and not a lot of industries have that ability to be flexible to be creative, and doing so and, you know, Having that work hard initiative I know in Pennsylvania. We actually had a plastics facility, I believe it was a plastics facility that they actually locked their workers in voluntarily for 28 days to make sure they could be making PPE because they couldn’t have exposure to the outside and getting employees sick so they had volunteers that volunteer to be locked in their facility for 28 days, I mean, that’s amazing. That would never happen in corporate that would never fly, but in manufacturing it did and they were signing up and they had more volunteers than they actually were expecting to have so it’s stories like that that you know, made me really proud that I’m focusing on this industry because there is so many initiatives going on I actually work closely with a paper mill in my area, and they, well I guess now it’s been two years ago they hired their first woman on the factory floor as as great, that was, that was pretty wild because I mean, and she was young, I think she was maybe 20 years old so when she was proud she was so happy to have that opportunity, and, you know, I think, when we hit milestones like this

Meaghan Ziemba
.

Meaghan Ziemba
It’s important, I mean, there’s so improvements to be made, I’ve gotten to a couple women events and manufacturing and one of the things that, you know, some women are looking for is that flex time because they’re not just workers, they’re also mothers so maybe those sick days, to you know to make appointments with their kids.I have appointments of my daughter set up all the time, you know, either to go see the doctor or my two youngest ones, I mean they’re wild animals so eventually there’s gonna be ER visits there sometime but even with new moms who, you know after that three month period three to six month period they have to return the word, if they’re breastfeeding, you know they need the faces to actually, you know comfort they need to pump in a lot of manufacturing facilities do not have those. So it’s just kind of thinking about those different opportunities to to incorporate that stuff because more and more moms are working full time and they don’t want to quit their job, they want to still be able to work full time and be a mom as well too and I think there’s ways to do that and adapt. I know I talked to one woman on my show, and she’s so she went to a manufacturing facility and she was like there was no woman’s bathroom on the shop floor, and I’m just like, why she was like there was zero bathroom if the women on the shop floor needed to use the restroom, they had to go into the office area. There was no women bathroom on the shop floor and I’m like, I didn’t even know that was still a thing that’s crazy, but it’s just because the industry has been so male dominated for so many years,

Laura Timbrook
That’s actually funny because a plant I go to, every time I have to go there I have to stop at visitors center as I cross the state line, to use the bathroom because I know once I get to the area I’m going to be in. There’s no bathroom without me having to go to like the front office which is a decent walk and I dont have much time.

Meaghan Ziemba
That’s just crazy. So funny and then still hear stories like that but again I think, you know manufacturers are starting to get the idea that, hey, if we start, including more women especially in leadership positions, and studies have shown this to they’ve been more innovative and more profitable, they’ve been more collaborative, there’s just so many benefits. I’m hoping that that continues to grow in the interest of them in the sector and we can say that it’s a woman dominated.

Laura Timbrook
Well, I already know, myself, you, and another woman that all focus on the manufacturing industry and either have YouTube channels or podcasts, so there’s not a whole lot of manufacturing podcasts out there but there’s two that are solely women focus, and women focus YouTube channel so I think we’re definitely getting there, you know, we still have a fairly long road to go but voices like yourself, I definitely think we will get there and I think we’re going to get there a lot faster, we have traditionally been now because of your experience in the manufacturing world, and because I focus on wellness, what would be some wellness initiatives you would like to see come into the manufacturing industry

Meaghan Ziemba
So definitely more opportunities for new moms, or existing moms, I know with certain situations, especially when it includes production shop floors that might be a little more difficult to incorporate just because you cannot interrupt those operation floors, there’s some positions that are more demanding than other positions that require people to be there every single day on time and work a certain amount of hours so those flex hours might be more difficult to incorporate during those build shop floor, opportunities, but I also think mental health is not talked about as much as it needs to be talked about and I think that’s very important, especially with new moms, I know for me personally when I had my youngest, other son are not very far apart, they’re only like 17 months apart so I was literally prep pregnant for like two years straight, just that postpartum depression wasn’t a real thing. And it did affect my productivity sometimes and I, I was grateful enough to have a leader who was a huge advocate for mental health and that’s important as well to include, you know strategy or policy, and also to I think women’s support groups to within the manufacturing companies, I talked to the founder of Women in manufacturing, and she was talking about the importance of groups like when. And, I mean there’s the Society of Women Engineers there’s women in technology, even within like the TMA anti I know there’s a lot of acronyms there but there is a focus of creating meeting places and meetings and events, and support groups of women, and, you know, some of them are just for women. Some include men as well too, but just so that you know, there’s that common ground that they can have a conversation and discuss issues. I didn’t talk to the president of another photochemical etching company out in California, and she one of her main initiatives is to make sure that if there are other female workers in her company, she will make the effort to go and talk to them and ask them how they’re doing and have a conversation in those conversations are not always focused on business they’re focused on personal things as well too, because she wants to make sure that they’re okay and if there’s anything going on, she has the heads up on it so that she can adjust strategy if she needs to. So she makes it really a number one priority of hers to include that personalization and with her workers and she, she even says she’s like, I don’t do it just with the women I do it with the men too. She’s like, but I try to have a closer connection with the women, because I want them to know that there is a voice for them that they do have a voice within the company, and if they’re afraid to share it sometimes they can count on me to be their voice, I’ve worked for manufacturing companies where it was that command and control type environment, and it just filled the productivity, not just on the shop floor but everywhere in the facility, I think, including your employees and just learning from them, and understanding that some people really come from a long line of expertise and just trusting what their thought processes,

Laura Timbrook
Yeah and you know what you’ve kind of explained is really about building that relationship and purpose in the manufacturing and how we can really tie that into the well being of our employees the well being of our organization, and ultimately the well being of a really strong industry so, Megan, I want to thank you for joining us and sharing all your expertise, and I definitely want our listeners to go and check out your YouTube channel you want to let them know where they can find you and your channel.

Meaghan Ziemba
Yeah, so you can connect with me there on LinkedIn. My name is Megan Ziemba, and you can also connect with me on YouTube. It’s Mavens of Manufacturing just search, type it in the search bar and my YouTube channel should come up and please subscribe because I would love to get my own custom URL for that and you need so many subscribers to do that, and if you could subscribe and help me out that I’d appreciate it. Absolutely. We’ll go and subscribe and help you get you your URL because I know how hard it is.

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