Finding My Tribe… at the WiM Summit

Finding My Tribe at WiM

Such an amazing thing happened to me last week, I found myself surrounded by a group of women that were just like me, and I have to say…it was wonderful.

Let me explain how this happened –

A few weeks back I heard about an event in Hartford, CT called the Women in Manufacturing (WiM) Summit. Women in manufacturing!  I couldn’t book my ticket fast enough!

So I traveled to Hartford, CT to be inspired and make sure I was on the right track with my current mission to find and attract more Women in the Pump Industry.  Because I am not actually a Women in Manufacturing or even a Women in Engineering for that matter, so I often wonder if I am the right person to be pushing for this change? But I keep finding myself driven to promote organizations like this, in part I believe it is because if I was introduced to these career options when I was 10, and I could absolutely see me in either one. Walking through a manufacturing plant, learning how things are designed, and seeing how people and systems work together to create efficiency excites me. So, I can’t tell you how happy it made me feel to be surrounded by women who I could relate to.

I was impressed even before the first speaker took the stage. The lady that sat next to me was the project leader for a Youth robotics team.  She spoke about ***STEM, another passion of mine, and the importance of giving children different options after high school based on what they enjoyed and were trained to do.  It was fascinating! She was fascinating!  She talks about Dream It, Do It and Manufacturing Day, both initiatives very close to my heart.

And then the speakers started, and I was just in awe of each one.   These ladies had such passion for WiM, empowering women, and manufacturing.  I watched these ladies, hanging on every word they spoke.  The experience was unlike anything I have experienced before… It was “Empowering”… As they spoke I saw a little bit of myself on the stage.  A Woman…. A Leader… A Change Maker…

Later in the day, we broke into a session to determine our ‘problem solving style’.  It was at this moment that I realized I had found my tribe.  I hear that problem solving and creative thinking are basically the same…I have heard many times that people see me as creative but I never saw that in myself; but Problem Solving – YES – that is how I see myself!  You have a problem… GOOD… I want to SOLVE it! I have never been so happy as to finally “get me”.

Now get this… most women are on the left side of the “problem solving curve”.  More adaptive and supportive in nature, but the women in this room were shifted to the right.  This made perfect sense to me.  This was a group of women who have chosen to be in Manufacturing, a traditionally male dominated industry. Why? Because they know they Can Do It; no matter what the current setting, we know we can make it better, make a difference, we don’t have to conform, and the simple fact that Can’t is just fuel on the CAN fire.

I just loved their stories of childhood, pretending to be builders or just “playing in the dirt” activities. When I closed my eyes to think about myself at 10, I remembered building a tree house with boards and nails I probably stole out of my dad’s tool shed.

Not surprisingly, I learned that my problem solving style was the more right of center… which could be most easily described as a chaotic mess.  But like the rest of the ladies at the table… IT’s OUR MESS. And it’s the best and only way for us to think…I wonder how many of you reading already knew this about me?

This reminds me of the time Stewart googled “why does she scribble all over her paper as she talks to people” after watching me during one longer than normal customer conference call. The answer, he told me, was that this is how I solve problems; “A platform of mess that finds a solution”

So as we wrote the “Advantages & Disadvantage” for my group… I thought I have finally found my tribe!

The conference was about looking for opportunities for our companies to get involved through WiM, community outreach, manufacturing day, and other organizations to inspire the next generation of girls that Manufacturing is an option for them… and not just an option but a great one!

As we approach Manufacturing Day, please think of opening up your hearts and facilities to help the next generation learn about manufacturing!

What are you doing to inspire the next generation?!?


Please read my other blog post about STEM and its importance for the next generation to give them insight into the alternatives they have for career choices.

And I’ll close with a quote from the kai feedback document that I found profound “The notion of “different but equally valuable” requires insight and time to learn… let’s take time to learn how we can all work together for the greater good!

Helping Houston By Working

Charli Working for Houston image

As y’all know I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, so thankfully was not personally impacted by Hurricane Harvey; But, as Houston is one of my go-to-cities understandably I am emotionally affected. It’s not that I am constantly saddened by the images of the suffering or in awe of the amazing stories of people helping each other in Texas, and it’s not even that we were just 20mins from the tornado that spun off Harvey. It was because I have guilt for not being able to leave my commitments to go and help with the rescue effort. I am constantly thinking of what I should do to help and feel guilty each time I have a normal happy day.

I know so many people in Houston, and some of my best friends were in the areas most impacted by the storm; I just don’t know who to help first or what they need most.  I first went to donate to the Red Cross because they are the pros, then I sent messages to my friends who were affected to see how I could help (of course they are overwhelmed and, if they had tried, couldn’t tell me what was needed).  My children’s school was taking up donations of food, clothes, and other items that would help with the relief effort which I thought would be a great way to teach my children compassion and selflessness, so we donated… But still… I keep wondering what did we really do… Life still goes on… work still goes on… commitments and responsibilities don’t stop….and Texas has a long way to go to recover.   This to me is just heart breaking.

I know this doesn’t even come close to compare, but it reminds me when I first lost my job; it was very clear to me that other people’s life didn’t stop.  It is hard.  I am sure it is even harder when you don’t have a home like some of the people in Houston.

This week I received an email from TPS that said they would be putting together a relief effort for those people still without shelter, which made me proud to be associated with such a great group. This made me think…this must be the worst, people who have lost everything or maybe they never had anything to begin with… have no home. This gave me the direction I needed. TPS brought me to Houston the first time 10+ years ago, and I would like to help give back to the community I call my 3rd home…

Read More to learn how Empowering Brands will be Working for Houston.