Real Time with… SMTAI 2020: Women’s Leadership Program Cruises Through Important Topics


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The virtual environment didn’t stop a large gathering of women (and men) from learning, sharing, and enjoying the Women’s Leadership Program during the final day of SMTAI 2020 on September 30. Attendees represented a wide range of careers and skillsets but came together to share their questions and thoughts on advancing technologies and how to make the most of today’s new “normal.”

The two-hour meeting started with formal presentations on autonomous driving innovations and supply chain processes, followed by breakout sessions on current topics. It concluded with a jovial reception that included swag bags, a sweet tea demonstration, and other prizes.

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Martin Anselm, new SMTA president, shared that each attendee needed to “evolve in a way that makes us happy so that we can enjoy our careers,” in reference to a breakout session on reinventing ourselves during our careers, as well as finding and making the most of new opportunities. Other breakout sessions included topics on finding a balance between work and home and recognizing unconscious bias in our professional and community lives.

Lenora_Clark.jpgUsing the road trip theme, Lenora Clark of ESI Automotive shared a presentation entitled “A Cruise Through Automotive Safety Systems.” She is the director of autonomous driving and safety technology at ESI and discussed how miniaturization, reliability, and unique substrates influence the materials in today’s electronic trends. While she believes it will be 10–15 years before we will see homeowners with autonomous cars in their driveways, she sees an acceleration toward more electric vehicles and enhanced safety measures in cars.

Nancy_Lange.jpgNext up was Nancy Lange, director of the Americas Manufacturing Solutions Business Unit of Plexus Corporation, who spent many years managing the supply chain for consumer products ranging from cosmetics to medical devices and aerospace industries. Her rapid-fire presentation demonstrated how these many industries share common quality road maps, but each has its own unique set of challenges.

The breakout sessions gave attendees a chance to chime in on today’s important topics, each hosted by an SMTA leader. When it comes to work-life balance, many commented on the new challenges and opportunities of working from home and not being able to travel as much and offered ways to stay engaged with the team through virtual meetings.

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When it comes to finding ways to overcome unconscious bias, the breakout groups explored the concept itself and how it presents both in and out of the workplace. Comments ranged from noticing bias again skin color and a person’s accent to how it plays out in recruiting.

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Overall, the SMTAI’s Women’s Leadership Program offered an educational space where those in the industry could learn from one another, connect, and network with other like-minded professionals.

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