Katelyn Kelsey didn’t expect to go into manufacturing, but as an engineer, the lure of digital transformation and the opportunity to solve emerging problems was too great.
Participating in a panel discussion on next-generation leaders at MLC’s Rethink 2022 Summit, the Mobility Technology Engineer for Dow, Inc., encouraged employers to go back to the drawing board and to let young people know that manufacturing is a place where they can work with the latest technologies and solve problems that bridge information technology and operational technology.
Moderated by Penelope Brown, MLC’s Senior Content Director, the panel also included Hayley Dwight, Director, Business Architecture and Change Management for Cooley Group, and Daniel Shrives, Research Engineer for Saint-Gobain North America.
The panelists agreed that Gen Z and millennials want to work for companies with interdisciplinary teams that do not operate in silos. Further, Dwight explained that her generation also wants a culture that values information sharing between organizational levels. She shared that she’s able to direct message with people like Jack Dorsey – the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter – so she should have similar access to the leaders in her our organization.
Later Kelsey added, “It costs you nothing to offer a seat at the table.”
Meanwhile, Shrives shared that one of the most important lessons he’s learned so far is to be flexible and expect that a role and responsibilities will change over time. But it is not just about his generation’s expectation to adapt. Shrives shared that leaders should give millennials an opportunity to bring change with them.
To prepare for the future, Kelsey encouraged manufacturers to come to events like Rethink in order to have candid conversations as an industry. She also reminded the audience that manufacturers aren’t just manufacturers anymore. They are also technology companies and they need to pull talent from other industries to create cross-functional teams.
And it is not just about speaking truth to power. Each of the panelists is also working to build their own leadership skills. In fact, Dwight, Kelsey and Shrives were among those honored later in the Next-Generation Leadership category at the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Gala.
Asked to share something about her personal development journey, Dwight shared that she’s working to ask more questions instead of making declarative statements. To do this, she asks herself each day if she ended more sentences with question marks or periods. That’s a lesson for leaders regardless of their generation.
Photo by David Bohrer / National Assoc. of Manufacturers