I have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in material science and engineering, both from the University of Delaware. Having any engineering background is definitely going to open doors and opportunities; however, specifically having a chemical engineering background is what got my foot in the door at SURVICE. My initial task at the company was evaluating nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC, now chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear [CBRN]) survivability.
After working for a few years and while still working full time, I went back to school to earn my master’s degree in material science and engineering. I felt that earning this advanced degree was an effective way to increase my value to the company since it has many applications and is relevant to the type of work we do.
Challenges & Accomplishments
There have certainly been challenges along my path (both personal and career), but all have been valuable learning experiences. I feel that they have taught me how to work through difficult situations and have strengthened my ability to adapt and persevere. As I moved into managerial positions and dealt more with personnel rather than just leading technical work, I quickly realized that flexibility, empathy, and creativity were key to resolving problems, and that there is no “one-size-fits-all” management method.
My biggest accomplishments are my children, Makenna (age 13) and Dominic (age 12). I am so proud of the individuals they are growing up to be, and I hope to instill in them qualities such as honesty, loyalty, dedication, and perseverance, which I feel will make them successful in whatever path in life they choose. Some other accomplishments that I am proud of include being high school valedictorian, member of my high school’s (Northern Lehigh High School) Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) State Championship Softball Team, member of the University of Delaware’s softball team, and recipient of the International Test and Evaluation Association’s (ITEA’s) Francis Scott Key Chapter’s Young T&E Professional Award (2006).
Who is the most influential woman you know? How does she inspire you?
There have been several female role models along my path that have inspired and mentored me. My mother, as a working mom, demonstrated that it’s possible to have a career and take care of a family. I definitely picked up some life lessons at an early age on successful methods for scheduling and time management. My sister, as a sophomore in high school, had to undergo two, 10-hour back surgeries. She showed great strength and perseverance to recover and resume her normal activities, and I admire her for the courage she showed throughout the whole ordeal.
In addition, my first team lead at SURVICE, Chris Susman (also a chemical engineer from the University of Delaware), was a role model for me as she took me under her wing to teach me what survivability entailed and led me down a successful path in the company. Some other females I admire were from the softball field. Playing a team sport, especially at the collegiate level, I spent most of my time with these girls; they are the ones who encouraged me, pushed me to my limits, and were shoulders to cry on. Being a part of a team, whether it’s on the ball field or in the office, has really shaped me as a person and as a manager. Knowing how to work together is essential, and I appreciate all of my experiences and interactions with these inspiring females.
Why do we need more women in leadership?
I think we need more women in leadership to help round out ideas and approaches. I believe having both male and female perspectives on issues and tasks can produce an overall better approach when confronting any challenge. Including and valuing both perspectives serve the employees’ and the company’s best interests.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
It is a way to acknowledge women’s progress in terms of equality of men and women and their capabilities.