Amy Mashak – Her Path to Becoming a Woman in Manufacturing Leadership
March 23, 2021
In this month’s blog, we wanted to do something a little different. We are handing the ‘mic’ over to our Director of Operations, Amy Mashak! Amy currently works in our La Crosse, WI facilities and is one of our first guest blogs. We’re excited to listen in as she tells her story – her career at Inland in manufacturing leadership, favorite memories, and what she is excited for in the future.
How it All Started
My career at Inland Packaging began in June of 1994. Did I just say I started here in the 90’s?! EEK! As my kids would say, that is sooo long ago! The three years prior, I taught kids how to twirl batons, but applied at Inland that summer because my sister had worked at Inland in the label finishing department. I decided to help support my family versus directly extending my education after high school. I was hired on as summer help as a Label Line Associate working at our West Avenue facility. By the end of the summer, I was hired on full time. I’ve held many positions in the operations department, from Label Associate to Machine Operator. While working at Inland I spent time helping create a lot of our Finishing Standard Operating Procedures. Working on that opportunity is what made me want to pursue a manufacturing leadership position.
Starting in Leadership
My journey into the leadership side of the company started in 2007 when I moved into a Production Group Lead role in the Finishing Department. I later moved into the Operations Manager role where I managed the press room in 2011. That led me into my current role, Director of Operations for both our West Avenue and Airport Road sites in 2017.
There have been challenges outside of Inland in the print community with being a woman in manufacturing leadership and just the general respect of being taken seriously. Many times, external folks would speak directly to my male counterpart, regardless of topic, instead of addressing me. Not to mention, I’m only 4’ 11” so I cannot say that my stature did anything to help! I have had to figure out ways to present myself in this arena to better gain confidence in these situations. The positive part of this, is at Inland, I have had an outpouring of support. Not just coaching and mentoring to assist in my own growth and development, but making sure my role and responsibilities were explained to our external partners.
I enjoy working at Inland, through the years, I have been able to grow and develop in a way that I am comfortable with. I have been given a lot of opportunities and am grateful for the experiences. I have completed several courses in leadership and development training for which I have received certifications, and that have led to my own personal growth and development. I really enjoy working with our staff and how we all come together through change and accomplish success. I enjoy leading and directing but find gratification in seeing those I have worked with, grow and blossom in their own skills and career.
New Equipment and Pushing for Change
As I have changed positions, met new people, and been apart of the company over the years, I have so many memories. A few of these are getting our first real automated finishing machine, the expansion of our headquarters, and getting the Schiavi press. These were all scary and exciting at the same time – being a part of that change and for what the future held. Other favorites involve the people I have and still do work with. I have gotten to see a lot of people grow up at Inland, including myself. I shared in their personal and professional accomplishments and all of that has been very gratifying.
Going forward there isn’t one specific project that I’m excited for, but I am excited about being at the forefront of growth and change. I have been a part of significant growth at Inland, not just physical volume of the top line growth, but growth in the way we do things, growth in physical advancement with technology and automation, and growth in the development of people. The excitement of consistently being at the forefront of some of the world’s most sophisticated equipment is a large part of my role. So, the new equipment installs both in press and finishing along with the new ideas around automation advancements are probably the projects that I would mention as the most exciting for this upcoming year.
2020 into 2021 includes 2 new presses, automation advancements in jogging and a new facility being onboarded as a few. I am heading into my 27th year of being a member of the manufacturing leadership team, I have experienced so much in my career and really enjoy the opportunities that I have had and look forward to many more.