It’s 2022, but women are still a minority in the automotive supply chain and manufacturing industry, representing only 30% of the workforce. It’s a slight increase from 20 years ago when that number was only around 26%, but we can do better.
Improving female representation is Allison Grealis’s focus as President and Founder of the Women in Manufacturing Education Foundation, which develops training and development programs for women in the industry.
One of her biggest goals in that role, Allison says, is to portray the right message about what modern manufacturing work even is. Hint: It’s no longer just a shop floor job in a dirty factory. “We hope all of these efforts … will make a difference and have more women wanting and selecting a career in manufacturing.” She joins us in this episode of Auto Supply Chain Prophets to talk about job and development opportunities for women in the auto supply chain industry.
Themes discussed in this episode:
- The current job opportunity landscape for women who want manufacturing jobs.
- How to portray the right message about what a modern manufacturing job is.
- Training and development opportunities available through Women in Manufacturing (WiM).
- What to expect at WiM’s annual summit.
At the heart of The Prophets’ vision are “The 24 Essential Supply Chain Processes.” What are they? Find out, and see the future yourself. Click here
Featured on this Episode
Name: Allison Grealis
Title: President and Founder, Women in Manufacturing Education Foundation
About: The Women in Manufacturing Education Foundation is dedicated to developing training and educational programs aimed at supporting the advancement of women in the manufacturing industry. She has over 20 years of experience working with trade associations.
Timestamped inflection points from the show
[2:16] A life of service: Meet Allison Grealis, Founder and President of the Women in Manufacturing Association Education Foundation. She explains why trade associations are so important, especially for women in the industry.
[3:32] The opportunity landscape: There are tons of opportunities available today as the automotive supply chain and manufacturing industry continues to change and develop, Allison explains.
[4:45] The right message: There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around what manufacturing really is. Allison explains how her organization uses social media, blog posts, and other strategies to change that image and attract more women to the industry.
[6:43] Training is critical: A majority of WiM members say the one thing they need to feel successful in their career is more training and professional development opportunities. Allison shares some of the options available through WiM.
[9:45] Summit 2022: Registration for WiM’s 2022 Summit is now open. Interested participants can expect leadership and educational tracks that will help them develop personally and professionally.
[11:09] Corporate membership: Allison discusses how WiM’s 300+ corporate members can leverage its trainings and resources within their companies.
[11:57] The one thing: The best thing supply chain leaders can do to excite a new generation about supply chain manufacturing jobs is share their stories and be ambassadors for the industry, Allison says.
[4:35] Allison: “There are lots of supply chain opportunities and companies are looking for individuals who can be problem solvers [and] innovators who have expertise to hop into these positions and these companies.”
[5:02] Allison: “We knew that there were still a lot of myths and misconceptions around what manufacturing is. So we’ve been very intentional since our early start to really message and market and talk about what modern manufacturing looks like.”
[7:04] Allison: “Education and training [are] critical. We know that when we survey our members, and they cite those key things that they feel that they need in their career, the number one is typically … access to training, education, and professional development.”
[12:41] Allison: “The goal is to reach a new generation and excite them about supply chain and manufacturing. And how better to do that then to leverage the great talent and leadership and expertise that’s sitting in these positions? So we would encourage people to be ambassadors — to be spokespeople — for the industry and share their stories.”
We really can’t predict the future because nobody can. What we can do though, is help auto manufacturers recognize, prepare for in profit from whatever comes next. Auto Supply Chain Prophets gives you timely and relevant insights and best practices from industry leaders. It’s all about what’s happening now in the automotive supply chain and how to prepare your organization for the future. Because the auto supply chain is where the money is.
Jan Griffiths: 00:40
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Auto Supply Chain Prophets as a supply chain leader out there in the automotive industry, you are faced with a very real challenge of bringing on the next generation of talent, not only attracting that talent, but continuing to educate that talent. And as we know from our five-step, roadmap, education and training is critical to the success of supply chain. In this episode, you’ll hear from a woman who leads the women and manufacturing organization which could indeed be a fabulous source of information and the answer to that very specific problem. Allison Grealis, welcome to the show.
Welcome. Thanks for having me.
Jan Griffiths: 01:30
Allison Grealis, what is your story? Do tell us.
My name is Allison Grealis. I’m the President and Founder of the Women in Manufacturing Association, and Education Foundation. I’ve been working in trade association work for now more than 20 years, and have found great pleasure in having the opportunity to work with members of associations specifically to meet their business needs, so to help their companies become more productive and profitable, and to help provide resources for manufacturing companies to be successful and competitive organizations. I first started my career with a trade association connected to metal forming, mainly working with small to mid sized privately held companies and business owners. And from there, found this great opportunity to create a community for women in manufacturing.
Cathy Fisher: 02:16
Allison, what prompted you to set up women in manufacturing. What was the need that you recognized was essential for women to succeed in the industry?
Women still are sadly the minority of the population in manufacturing present day we’ve grown to a whopping 30%. When I first started working with manufacturing trade associations, 20 years ago, hovered more closely to around 26 27%. So we’ve had a very modest increase. What we found is there was really great interest from the women I was able to connect with through conferences and events and finding other women like them. So finding a community of individuals that they could share expertise that they could share insights. So based on that interest of women wanting to find others like them. We first started with some virtual meetings, and then what we created and what is present day, our annual summit is what came to be as our big annual conference where we could connect women and industry, it really was multipronged again, for their own personal and professional development needs.
Cathy Fisher: 03:12
How long ago did you start women in manufacturing?
We know we weren’t sure what type of thereafter would be when we first started the Summit Conference. What was interesting is that immediately upon creating this community as opportunity to meet live, we had women requesting how do I join? How do I become part of this organization?
Terry Onica: 03:30
What career opportunities do you see today for women in supply chain and manufacturing?
Yeah, there’s a multitude of different career opportunities. There are there’s no shortage of companies needing individuals and talented people irregardless of gender in their manufacturing operations. I think present day the number hovers near a million open manufacturing positions. And as we power year round, a job board called whim works. Lots of different types of engineers are sought after for manufacturing companies to do things connected to maintenance, to safety to business development to be process engineers, we see companies looking to fill company positions, but also their different positions than what they were 20 years ago. Obviously we know industry, 4.0 and manufacturing. Technology has really changed the landscape of positions. I think there’s tons of opportunity for individuals who are interested in problem solving. There’s lots of different applications of that in the current positions manufacturing.
Cathy Fisher: 04:28
Allison, do you see positions or opportunities in the supply chain side as well as manufacturing?
Definitely, there’s lots of supply chain opportunities. And companies are looking for individuals who can be problem solvers, innovators who have expertise to hop into these positions and these companies.
Cathy Fisher: 04:45
Speaking of recruiting more people into manufacturing, how is women in manufacturing as an organization, bringing the next generation the younger generation forward into the possibilities of careers and manufacturing and supply chain
Since early in our evolution as an organization, we knew that there were still a lot of myths and misconceptions around what manufacturing is. So we’ve been very intentional, since our early start to really message and market and talk about what modern manufacturing looks like. We have been very active for years on social media, we have a very active blog series, in which we have interviewed more than 100 women to share their stories called hear her story. It’s again trying to illuminate and to inform people about what modern manufacturing looks like. It doesn’t look like what we might think of within lots of dirty factories and facilities that’s not modern manufacturing looks like. And so trying to inform new generations of manufacturing is modern, it’s a different place than what you might have thought. And as well, that there’s great opportunities for financial and personal success in these professions and manufacturing. So using social channels, has been huge for us and leveraging our blog series, Hear her story has been in fact packed. But we also have 31 active chapters of the women manufacturing association around the country. And we see them as our best ambassador organizations to reach youth groups to start connecting with Girl Scouts, as well as technical colleges, career educational institutions, so helping us have more outreach as it relates to students. And then lastly, I’d say we do have a student membership. So we make it very affordable, very low cost. It’s I think, $25 annually for a student to join in, they have full access to all of our learning resources. To all of our amazing mentors are women who are part of our member community, which is near 15,000 present day. We hope all of these efforts, in addition to the great efforts of our manufacturing, company members and corporate members will make a difference and have more women wanting and selecting a career in manufacturing.
Terry Onica: 06:43
I’ve attended many of your conferences, and I’m really impressed with the number of young women that are in attendance in our ebooks delivering on the promise of delivery. We talk a lot about the importance of training in our five step roadmap, what is women doing to help educate and train young women in supply chain and manufacturing.
So education and training is critical. We know that when we survey our members, and they cite those key things that they feel that they need in their career, the number one is typically opportunity to have access to training, education and professional development. So we’ve been very focused on providing avenues by which they can access education and training. We do have formal leadership programs. So we have three of them. Our newest is our empowering women and production program, which are we’ve already graduated 65 women from the program, we have 150 enrolled in our cohorts, two and three. So we have that program, which is a virtualized program is a 20 week experience. And we’re really trying to meet people where they are at. So providing them access to probably what might be their first formal assessment, or providing them access to coaching, you know, having them create that roadmap of what they’d like to achieve in their personal and professional life, and helping them find applicability with that current manufacturing company that they’re at. We also have a program for early career managers called our management development program. That’s as well a virtual learning experience that includes as well assessment and coaching opportunities, as well as a whole formal curriculum. And then we have same core competencies that are kind of covered throughout all of these programs. And we end with our executive Women’s Leadership Program, which we do in partnership with Case Western Reserve University. So those are our formal educational programs. But we also are delivering education year round through our Virtual Learning Series, which is complimentary to members there, our long learning sessions that we deliver monthly. And then we also have a whole On Demand Learning Library that members can go and have access to. And there’s close to 100 hours of learning on topics like Supply Chain Management, there within that Learning Hub. That’s in addition to what we’re producing in our annual conferences, which have educational tracks. For example, our summit this year has 37 Plus educational tracks, and then our chapters who produced more than 200 programs last year, many of their programs are as well connected to trading and education. So no shortage of opportunity for people to tap into some learning and development programs that we deliver. And then we always work with manufacturers, and we’re always listening to manufacturers to say, what else do you need, for example, that empowering women and production program I mentioned, that was designed specifically as a request and in collaboration with manufacturing companies coming to us saying, we’re really struggling with retaining our production level women, how can we work collaboratively on a program that’s going to help them identify their areas of interest and gaps and where they need to develop? Hopefully, this would be a tool to help them want to stay at that organization or at minimum stay in manufacturing. So, again, that was a year and a half process of development with an advisory group of different leaders in manufacturing and with manufacturing organizations. And then the output has been that empowering program.
Terry Onica: 09:45
Allison, how do your members or companies actually leverage your training through your organization?
You know, we almost have now 300 corporate member companies and clients that we work with, we want them not to just join but obviously to use our resources. So In terms of corporate membership a company joined, they then have unlimited individual memberships, so anyone in their organization can access our resources. So we’ve created tools like using QR codes for individuals to access not only setting up their profile and their membership, but as well, you know, quick link codes where they can go, for example, and go to the virtual learning library, or sign up for one of our monthly learning sessions. We also provide companies a lot of plug and play messaging and communication, so that they can use that in their corporate newsletters or in communications to help people know of upcoming programming or resources.
Cathy Fisher: 10:34
Allison, you mentioned a bit earlier about your upcoming annual conference, tell us a little bit more about that conference and some of the training tracks that you’ve got scheduled for that conference.
So we have our annual summit coming up our 2022 summit being held October 10, through the 12th. It’s in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Omni CNN center downtown, and we are thrilled to welcome what we believe will be more than 900 people to this year’s conference. And educational tracks vary in content. And as well, they’ve really been created to meet kind of the needs of all different types of women, as well as male ally manufacturing leaders. So we have tracks for example, that focus on business excellence, operational excellence, we’ve got technology and innovation tracks, we’ve got also leadership tracks that can help people at their different stages of leadership and careers within manufacturing. The conference as well is designed to help facilitate people making new connections, externally networking outside of their companies and organizations, we hope they leave informed with new information that can help them personally and professionally. And then as well, to go back with new ideas and solutions for their organizations and companies. And then we also do have an optional 5k run on Sunday, the ninth it’s called the horizon 5k. And it’s meant to benefit our Education Foundation, which helps us to deliver and design and execute all of those learning and training programs that I mentioned previously.
Jan Griffiths: 11:57
Allison, what is the one thing, the one piece of advice that you would want to give supply chain leaders out there today?
The one thing I would ask all supply chain leaders who are listening today’s podcast would be is to just share their story and to be an industry ambassador. As I mentioned, our organization is trying to do it on the behalf of all of the amazing women that fill manufacturing positions. But we would highly encourage those people in supply chain management positions and leadership positions to share their story of how did they get to their current position? What does a day in the life look like? Whether it be on vehicles like LinkedIn to be sharing some of the exciting work that they in their organizations are doing? Or on other social channels. I mean, the goal is to reach a new generation and excite them about supply chain and manufacturing. And how better to do that, but then to leverage the great talent and leadership and expertise that’s sitting in these positions. So we would encourage people to be ambassadors to be spokespeople for the industry and just share their stories.
Jan Griffiths: 12:59
Allison Grealis, thank you very much for being on the show today.
Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure.
12th annual Women in Manufacturing SUMMIT
Empowering Women in Production Program
Case study from QAD and Penn Engineering
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