When one thinks about Manufacturing, many times they have an outdated image of a dirty environment with an emphasis on tough physical labor. Women displayed their capability in the field of manufacturing during World War II, as they kept the factories humming. Today’s manufacturing environments, especially in high tech companies, are very different than that. In some cases, they are sanitized controlled environments. Historically, it has been difficult to find many women in jobs higher-level jobs. But in today’s world of manufacturing, women who have graduated with degrees in engineering, sciences and business are progressing through the ranks to management and executive roles. These individuals are seeing how exciting a career in manufacturing can be and are energized by the fast moving pace and global nature of roles in the industry.
Locally, Agilent Technologies is a high tech company that manufactures instrumentation for the Analytical and Life Sciences markets. Products produced here in Delaware are Gas Chromatographs and Mass Spectrometers. Liza Bartle is a Senior Director of Manufacturing, located in Delaware where she manages instrument manufacturing in Wilmington, Singapore and Shanghai. She is a good example of how individuals move around to different jobs today and eventually find areas that they love. Having graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Mathematics, she began teaching high school math and working on getting an MBA. After receiving the MBA, also from her alma mater, she moved to Hewlett-Packard where she held positions in several departments, such as human resources and quality assurance.
However, the opportunity to move into the world of manufacturing introduced her to the role she has enjoyed most, her current one. The fast pace of needing to meet shipment and revenue plans and introducing new products made for a very interesting and challenging job. HP spun off Agilent Technologies in 1999 and in 2006; Liza’s role grew bigger as she began managing both the Wilmington and Shanghai manufacturing teams, taking a much more global view. Meeting suppliers in China and helping them to understand the quality level required for Agilent products required developing better communication skills. And in 2014, Liza expanded her job again and took over managing the manufacturing team in Singapore. With each additional team, the job got more interesting and fun. Opportunities to bring people together, across cultures and time zones, to share their experiences and knowledge is a true pleasure for Liza. Developing others and seeing them grow to bigger roles has been the most rewarding aspect of all.
As manufacturing jobs are growing again, both in Delaware and in the US, it is a great time for women to engage in the function of manufacturing and enjoy the benefits of a career that is rewarding and fun.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.