1660317489555 Youngworkerwoman

2nd annual Plant Services class of young professionals

Oct. 20, 2021
Sheila Kennedy says the future of industry is safe in the hands of the 2nd annual Plant Services class of young professionals.

Career opportunities in industry appear limitless if this selection of youthful workers is any indication. Some are on a direct path and others have taken a circuitous route, but all have landed in roles they value, and their energy and passion are leaving an indelible mark. Their stories are a reminder of the common purpose across generations that will help organizations survive and thrive. Indeed, there is no better time to strengthen your teams because modern skills and fresh enthusiasm are within reach.

Drew Daulton at North American Stainless is a mechanical maintenance engineer and currently the maintenance engineer over the hot strip mill’s finishing mill. His career choice was well-considered. “I have always been a hands-on kind of person who enjoys seeing different things every day. Industry seemed like the perfect place to get plenty of both,” he observes.

Daulton enjoys the diversity of challenges that he faces on a day-to-day basis. “Each day is a new challenge with a whole new set of issues to be resolved,” he explains. “It keeps me busy and always thinking of the best ways to solve, predict, and prevent issues.”

Thomas Garrigan, a Reliability 360 project manager at Advanced Technology Services (ATS), was inspired as an ATS intern by his boss to pursue a career in industrial maintenance. “The impact technology-driven maintenance has on American manufacturing is fascinating, and I want to continue to promote its importance within the plant environment.”

Garrigan enjoys the variety of his work. “I work directly with 35 to 40 customer plants, manage the cost savings process, support machine health monitoring remotely from the ATS Reliability 360 Technology Center, facilitate projects to implement proactive maintenance strategies, and am a part of a project team to lay out the next steps for ATS related to technology.” He suggests that regardless of what industry you work in, invest in your ability to communicate effectively. Active listening and engaging speaking abilities are essential.

As a project manager for new product development at Rexnord , Megan Kelm works on products such as conveying solutions and metal conveyor belts. “I pursued mechanical engineering as a natural fit for my aptitude for problem solving, leadership, math, and science for my undergraduate degree. In my early professional career, I pivoted to project management for new product development to gain exposure to various functions of an organization as well as to hone leadership skills and manage people,” she explains.

Kelm’s biggest career goal is to leave a legacy of helping others and empowering her peers to reach their goals. She adds: “I think that being a servant leader and aligning my abilities to my work enables me to maximize my impact and pursue purposeful work.”

At Yates Construction, Donald Marke works as a project engineer/coordinator. “Since I was young, I always had an interest in watching structures being built. Now I can be a part of the process and hopefully I can be blessed enough to lead an entire project from start to finish one day,” he says.

What he likes most is the constant learning that occurs in construction. “Every job is like a human—it has its own unique characteristics that make it special,” Marke observes. To college students figuring out what they want to do or how to do it, he says: “I suggest you have fun, do as many things as possible to create experiences, and what you are meant to be will naturally come to you.”

Project Analyst Alicia Moore at PFES took a nontraditional path into her field. “I had lost my job because of the pandemic, but that provided an opening for me to reflect on my career and switch gears. When I got presented this opportunity at PFES, I dug into the energy, gas, and electric sector and realized this was the field I wanted to join,” she explains. “I find it so fascinating to know more about what goes on behind the scenes for a typical power line, and I love being able to see the whole process involved in building substations.”

Moore considers herself a jack of all trades, assisting every department on various projects and all the major processes that come with it. She also works closely with PFES consultants to ensure they’re properly onboarded. “Often, when I’m driving, I’ll look out the window and see the powerlines and different substations along my route. Not a lot of people get to see the impact of their job in their daily life, but I can, and I love that,” she adds.

Krishan Patel started as a chemical engineer and quickly realized his interests lie not in large-scale food production, but rather the numbers behind the scenes and understanding how to make processes better and more efficient. Currently he is a senior solutions consultant focused on database architecture and modeling at Axis Group, an analytics enablement company.

“What draws me most to this line of work is the fact that I can help my clients analyze billions of records of data more efficiently and effectively,” says Patel. “Teams I work on include members from data engineering and data visualization. Together, we are able to process a lot of data and simplify it for the end user to make better, more informed decisions.”

At Novolex, a packaging products manufacturer, Jamie Rife has worked as a quality technician, compliance coordinator, and now a senior quality compliance analyst on the corporate quality team. She works with Novolex facilities and customers across the country to answer regulatory questions and ensure that all their products meet the appropriate compliance laws and food safety requirements.

“I was drawn to the field of quality assurance because it plays a significant role in our daily lives, but few people think of the processes needed to ensure that the products we use every day are compliant with environmental, regulatory, and food safety standards,” observes Rife. Her position is unique in that she is connected to every aspect of the business, which spans a myriad of brands, materials, and geographies. “In such a large organization, I enjoy the opportunity to communicate across the breadth of the company and assist each business unit,” she says. “The work certainly keeps me on my toes; learning about new and changing regulations is part of my daily life.”

Jackie Schlageter is a chemical engineer working in research and development at Perma-Fix, a hazardous waste treatment facility. “Engineering is all about optimization, creating processes that are more energy efficient with higher outputs of desired materials,” she says. “I design treatment techniques to handle potential hazardous/radioactive waste streams that come through. I also participate in general operations treatment.”

Schlageter’s future goal is to acquire a Professional Engineering license. “I think having a PE opens a lot of doors in industry to extend the principles we have learned and really excel in our chosen field,” she explains. “I want to continue working in the hazardous waste industry helping develop treatment technologies. I think environmental service operations are going to be crucial in developing a sustainable world.”

For those unsure of their career path, Schlageter speaks from experience: “Find something that you are really interested in. Working in industry can be intimidating as there are many different routes available, but finding a work environment that you are passionate about is instrumental in success.”

This story originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.

About the Author: Sheila Kennedy
About the Author

Sheila Kennedy | CMRP

Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected] or www.linkedin.com/in/kennedysheila.

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