Wednesday, August 15, 2018

TEEX #WomenStepUp: Kristy Braman, Woodworking Artist

When I was in college, I had an amazing wood shop available to me through the architecture program. I was actually a little intimidated about working there, though, because most of the people who worked there were men who were far more experienced than me and there were so many tools I'd never used before. However, during my senior year, I thought, I have to use this before I leave school so I designed and built my first furniture piece. I instantly fell in love with woodworking and the community in the work shop was so helpful and welcoming. It was difficult to leave school after that and go from having every tool imaginable to having nothing.

When I had my daughter, my husband and I were talking about what I could do from home, something that would still allow me to be creative and design. We kept coming back to this particular style of woodworking art. It filled my design side, my woodworking-craftsman side; it was everything that fit my aesthetic. We decided to jump right into it. We bought my first few tools, I made one small project, and I was like, “Yeah, I have to do this.” I love it.

Challenges now are balancing work with family and getting my stuff done in the time that I have. Also, one thing I have noticed in woodworking is if you have a problem, you can't always find easy answers. You do some research but then you have to just push forward knowing that you’re going to make mistakes and prepare for it. You can’t view it as failure—it’s a learning opportunity.

Whatever it is that you think you want to do, just do it. There will always be reasons not to do it and none of them are good enough. Prepare for the challenges because they will always be there—it doesn’t matter whether you’re a woman or a man. It's much better to be in a job that is difficult if it's the job that you love.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

TEEX #WomenStepUp: Courtney Moore, Product Onboarding Manager for Accredo Packaging

I am the Product Onboarding Manager for Accredo Packaging, where we produce flexible packaging for applications such as shrink bundling film that goes around water bottles and towel and tissue film as well as laminated structures that are converted into pouches for applications like sugar, frozen vegetables, chicken products, etc. 

In college, I never imagined I would be interested in the technical aspects of manufacturing. Accredo was my first manufacturing job, and I was immediately impressed and excited about working with something tangible. I started out as a production coordinator and then moved into customer service management. I had the privilege of joining the company in the early years, when it was necessary for me to become heavily involved in the specifications of the product. When we had questions and issues from the customers, I would physically go and check it out and work with the managers to solve the issue and/or get the questions answered. It was incredibly interesting to me, so even though it was more comfortable to stay on the familiar business side of things, I pushed out of my comfort zone because I enjoyed it. 

Now I manage all the specifications, especially for new products, and make sure that we understand the application, what the customer needs, and how to transition the new business to Accredo. What I like the most about my position now is the problem solving. When we get a new product that is not in our current wheelhouse, we work to find something that meets the customers’ needs while remaining efficient for us to produce. 

One of my challenges is to learn more about the product and machines, since my schooling and background are not technical.  There can be an under-estimation of how well I grasp those concepts, but I continue to ask questions to equip me for developing the new products. I have not worked on the production floor, but in my length of experience at Accredo, I’ve developed a knowledge base to help determine how to produce a new product and the skills to see that new business to fruition. 

What would I recommend to young women today about traditionally male jobs like manufacturing? I think there is greater satisfaction following something you enjoy doing. Do not worry about it being a traditionally male job. Step out of your comfort zone and find somewhere you can use your talents to add value.