Within TDC’s Premier Industrial Parks there are many businesses that literally keep us moving. Air Industrial Park hosts 25 businesses, Banker Road Industrial Park hosts 6 businesses and within these parks, a wide variety of international industrial manufacturers do business. Within those businesses are thousands of men and women assembling cables, machines, lighting, trains and buses by hand. This month, in honor of Women’s History Month, we will be focusing on the women working in the manufacturing industry here in the Greater Plattsburgh region. During the next few weeks we will be sharing local stories of women within the industry in a variety of positions.
We asked a set of questions to learn what led these professionals to manufacturing and, to share what advice they could offer other people, especially women-to-women. These stories will certainly inspire others in many ways. They may validate current work or career paths, influence a change in job field or, pique the interest of young people as they enter the workforce or head off to college. Each woman's pathway is unique and we are thankful for their hard work, dedication, perseverance and contributions to the North Country and to the manufacturing industry. This month, we celebrate them and all women who make us move!
1. What education (formal or informal) pathway did you choose and how has it helped you through your career?
My educational pathway was a circuitous one. I started out in sciences, switched to graphic arts then somehow graduated college as an accountant with a minor in economics. For sure STEM learning was important in my career. Those subjects have always been my strength, even in high school. However, STEM subjects will get you only so far in your career; those subjects will earn you your paycheck. Like your diet, you must have balance. Arts, music and language encourage creativity and problem solving. They make your brain more elastic. If you want to get promoted then it is the soft skills that are most important. Things I have learned through team sports: positivity, enthusiasm, coaching, supporting a team, managing stress, and losing gracefully.
2. What advice would you give to young people, especially young women going into male dominated industries?
I went to an all-girls school so we never heard “girls are good at this and boys are good at that." Some girls excelled in some areas while some girls excelled in others. I think that has been very important in my career. I am a foreigner (Canadian), a minority (East Indian) and a woman. However, I don’t think I have ever thought of myself in any of those categories. To me they just don’t matter. If you go into life thinking that you are inhibited because of who you are then it will always be an obstacle. I prefer not to think in stereotypes, I think this is an advantage.
My advice to young women: Be proud to be who you are and be confident! Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. We don’t do that nearly enough!
3. Did you have a mentor?
Looking back, I wish I had a mentor. I think I would have found my way faster, with perhaps, a few less scars. We all need someone to give us feedback about ourselves. It is hard to know yourself without it. You cannot grow if you don’t know your own strengths and weaknesses.
4. What do you love about living, working and playing here in the Adirondacks?
The best thing about living in the Adirondacks is the people. The folks here have true grit. And, it has been my privilege to work with them and get to know them.
I enjoy a small-town life and the big city is not so far away if one needs that. Everyday life is less stressful. It’s very easy to have work-life balance.
5. What positive changes would you like to see in your industry and/or in the Greater Plattsburgh region?
There are a variety of large businesses located here. There is a good deal of advancement potential to a point. We have learned a lot about remote working so I hope large businesses will consider locating more senior positions to the region. When hiring people, as leaders, we need to actively think about their growth path.
I think manufacturing is sometimes seen as a dead end job. We need to show people the possibilities and pave the way for them to achieve success. I would also love to see the community encourage and welcome diversity.
We need to look outside the region if we are to attract and retain the workforce needed.
Khrome is a system integrator and component manufacturer in the mass transit sector. Khrome has headquarters in Quebec with a USA branch in Plattsburgh within the TDC Air Industrial Park. The company specializes in engineering, manufacturing and integration within the transportation industry. They design and manufacture seat systems, toilet module for trains, operator cab and driver desks, advanced composites for esthetic applications and they integrate mechanical and electrical systems. You'll see some of these designs and products on the Long Island Railroad (NY LIRR-MNR M7), New Jersey Transit, JFK Airport Shuttle, Toronto GO-TRANSIT, Montreal Metro and many more. So, next time you're commuting into Manhattan, Montreal or headed to JFK, the very seats you'll be sitting on have a direct connection to the North Country.