The SMTA has honored Sherry Stepp, global marketing manager, with a 2022 Members of Distinction Award. Stepp was chosen for an Excellence in Leadership Award. Sherry has been actively involved in SMTA activities as a KYZEN staff member for 25 or so years and has been a member herself since 2009. In this interview, Nolan and Sherry dish on what it means to receive the award, and some key moments that have been the most gratifying for Sherry on a personal level.
Nolan Johnson: Hi, Nolan Johnson here for I-Connect007. I am pleased to be talking right now with Sherry Stepp. She is the global marketing manager at KYZEN and the SMTA vice president of membership. Sherry, thanks for joining me.
Sherry Stepp: Thank you for having me.
Johnson: You have just been identified as the recipient of the Excellence in Leadership Award. That’s one of the awards from the 2022 Members of Distinction honors through SMTA. Congratulations.
Stepp: Thank you very much.
Johnson: What does this award mean to you?
Stepp: Well, I was a little surprised to receive it and obviously extremely honored that I was chosen. It’s an award that’s been around for a long time and I’m thankful and honored to have been chosen this year.
Johnson: That award does seem to come with a long history, if you will, and a lot of involvement. This is not an award that comes as a flash in the pan with an organization like the SMTA. What’s one of your favorite memories from working with SMTAI?
Stepp: I’ve been on the expo committee, been on the MarCom Committee, on the Women’s Leadership Program committee. You name a committee; I’ve never met a committee I didn’t like. Obviously, my most favorite memory is the development of the Women’s Leadership Program. It’s been a long time coming. Back in the early days, it was just a bunch of us women getting together in one of the rooms on the side. I believe it started back in Orlando at an earlier SMTAI. And we all just got together, and Michelle Ogihara brought flowers and we had some candy, and somebody found a couple of bottles of wine and we just sat around and had a great conversation and talked about what it meant to be a woman in this industry. It developed over the years and we started having a speaker and the wine kept flowing—we’ve got to have our wine.
Then it developed into a really nice track. We developed the WLP committee, as we call it. And with some great leadership from some very bright and smart women, we developed a program where now we are a part of the official conference. But we still have our wine. We have a connection reception at the end where people can socialize and connect, and it’s just been a joy to watch it grow over the last 10, 15 years. I can’t even remember how long we’ve been doing it. But it’s been a staple and it’s just been an amazing thing to watch grow and develop. Of course, during the pandemic, we found a way to make it work and that spawned Wine Down Wednesdays, which is just an opportunity for the women of our industry to get together and have kind of a happy hour with sometimes speakers, sometimes just fun and games all year long.
Johnson: With such a great program as that, what sorts of results in the community of women in this industry are you seeing?
Stepp: Well, it’s exciting to have to see a mentoring atmosphere come along. It’s so popular. We tend to have a lot of men show up for our conference track, which is great that there’s that much support in our industry for women. We’ve watched our peers be promoted because of this, because of learning from each other and being able to navigate this world that is extremely male dominated. But watching it grow and seeing the numbers grow and seeing how women are definitely carving out a space in this industry and making a big impact no matter what their position. We have women that are engineers and PhDs, and we have women that are in marketing and sales, and we all get together and it’s a mutual respect kind of deal.
Johnson: Well, no wonder you’re a recipient of this award in 2022. Congratulations.
Stepp: Thank you.
Johnson: And thanks for taking the time to speak with me today.
Stepp: No problem.