Manufacturing is a major contributor to North Carolina’s economy. Employing nearly 11% of our workforce, the manufacturing industry is a growing and exciting field with plenty of opportunities for North Carolinians. But while the industry has evolved drastically to integrate sophisticated technology and cutting-edge innovation, it has failed to shed its antiquated reputation. Younger generations are hesitant to pursue careers in manufacturing, and one-third of Americans say they wouldn’t encourage their child to work in the industry.
What steps can we take to change those statistics and encourage North Carolina’s middle and high school students to consider manufacturing as a career path? Events like Manufacturing Days and initiatives like apprenticeships are already raising awareness, but we’d like to highlight another great option: exposing them to role models, like Kelly Dees from Ingersoll Rand.
This month, Kelly was recognized as an emerging female leader in manufacturing through the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production) Ahead Awards. STEP Ahead recognizes women making a difference in the manufacturing industry and encourages them to mentor and support the next generation of female talent. According to the Manufacturing Institute, award-winning STEP Ahead women have impacted more than 300,000 individuals through their efforts to promote the importance of women in manufacturing.
As Global Customer Experience Leader at Ingersoll Rand, Kelly led a number of major initiatives that drastically improved the customer experience and improved operations. In addition to her impressive list of accomplishments—which you can read more about here—Kelly also takes the time to mentor her 10 direct reports and ensure she’s providing the support they need for their own career progressions.
Through their commitment to encouraging young women to pursue careers in the industry, leaders like Kelly and the STEP Ahead award winners will make a significant difference for the future of manufacturing. Congratulations Kelly, and thanks for all you do for North Carolina!
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Governmental Affairs
North Carolina Chamber > A force for business