Wednesday, April 27, 2016

FIRST Women in STEM Reception 2016, Part II, Speaker

Presentation by Thelma Gutierrez-Anderson, Sr. SCM Manager with Eaton Corporation


Anderson’s friends were little girls with physical and background differences, but they eventually shared the goal of, perseverance for, and accomplishment of becoming engineers. Also, these friends are in different engineering disciplines.


In elementary school Gutierrez-Anderson hated math and science. In middle school, however, a fantastic science and math teacher helped her discover and love algebra.

Thelma had earned all A’s through seventh grade.  Her male high school counselor, while enrolling her in eighth grade, said she needed to have all honors classes. Thelma admitted that she was incredibly shy, didn’t talk, and didn’t raise her hand. Still she enrolled in those honors classes.

                                                                                     WHAT AN ENGINEER LOOKS LIKE

Then and now

Thelma is a first-generations American. Her parents spoke little English, but they hammered education. Barely above the poverty line, her parents stressed, “You are going to college,” although they didn’t know how to pay for it.

Her counselor pitched Thelma’s attending the Science Academy of South Texas, established in 1989 as a regional, public tuition-free magnet school focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math. She seized the opportunity, although it meant that she had to ride a bus to the school and catch a second bus from there for a thirty-minute ride one way. Each year she had STEM classes. During her freshman year, she built a robot out of Popsicle sticks, a syringe, and water for fluid, and the bot actually picked up a ball. Thelma was in the academy’s first graduating class.

Her college advisor encouraged her to apply for an internship with Eaton, but she was too tired, only a freshman—she could intern later, and she did not have enough time with the challenging courses. In fact, her advisor made her go to his office, sit down right there, and apply. Awarded the scholarship, she interned at Eaton each summer, Eaton gave her a scholarship, and when she graduated from college, she worked and still works for Eaton.

Last September, she moved to Oklahoma. Prior to that, she worked in Minnesota for twelve years. Gladly, she traded snow for tornadoes. Eaton manages power for other companies. At Shawnee, she manages the supply chain for motors that go into harvesters, construction and other equipment. 


Once you can problem-solve, you can apply the techniques to other aspects of life or jobs. For example, Thelma earned her degree in electrical engineering. At Eaton, she has become a design engineer, a manufacturing engineer, a marketing manager (five years with four rotations in three years), and a supply chain manager (her third role in supply chain). While in manufacturing, Eaton placed her in its Leadership Development Program.   

[Eaton’s corporate leadership development program with five separate areas prepares participants for future functional and/or technological leadership positions by offering added rotational assignments, experience with Eaton’s new products and technologies, high- level interaction, networking, and formal training in technical skills and leadership. In short, LDP participants are trained, and mentored for larger responsibilities at higher management levels.]

A strong advocate for women in leadership, Thelma added that at Eaton management analyzes how to get more women into senior management positions.

  • Mentors—Formal  or Informal
Sometimes we don’t recognize who our mentors are. They are the people cheering for you or trying to get you on a team. If you recognize them, ask them to be a formal mentor.
  • Candid Conversations
Learn how to have a candid conversation on a topic that is not fun or pleasant, e.g., with       customers, peers, subordinates, and others. Some people try to be polite, but that is often   awkward and uncomfortable. You must have a relationship with people with whom you are   having a serious conversation. That relationship means they will know you care about them. Without a relationship, you may come off as a jerk or someone out to harm them.
  • Ambiguity
Learn how to deal with ambiguity. Like many engineers, Thelma likes to have all the numbers, all the pieces of the puzzle. Sometimes, however, you must make a decision without all the data.
  • Continuous Improvement
Continuously think about how to improve. People and organizations get used to doing           something one way because they always have. Be lean. Think about how to do something   easier, faster, and/or more efficiently. Document what you do and think. If you do X, you can improve.
  • Business Acumen
Know your customers, suppliers, competitors, and others, i.e., know your business.
[“Business acumen is keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a business situation in a manner that is likely to lead to a good outcome.” Components are “an acute perception of the dimensions of business issues,” making “sense out of complexity and an uncertain future,” being “mindful of the implications of a choice for all the affected parties,” being “decisive” and “flexible” if warranted. Reilly & Reilly]
  • Business Strategy
Know how to develop business strategy. For example, Thelma managed a $45 million product line and grew it to $85 million in five years. No one told her how. She had to figure it out. Seasoned professionals around her were not her teachers. Learning opportunities and risks, she created, or engineered, a path to growth.
  • Business Financials
Opportunity and pitches fall flat without numbers. Although Thelma hates accounting, she had to overcome her gap and is now comfortable with financial numbers. 

Don’t downplay your efforts. Sometimes frustrated, Thelma couldn’t see where she was going. When people ask her how she did or accomplished something, she tells them.  
  • Mistakes
Acknowledge your mistakes. Thelma said that she made many, many of which she had the   opportunity to fix. She always learned from her mistakes.
  • Stretch
Stretch yourself. For Thelma, stretching herself was not comfortable. She—you—must be     willing to adapt. Change is hard for many. If Thelma needs to change because the customer is changing, the global economy is changing, or other factors change, she changes. You must change when necessary.
  • Inspire
Inspire others. Thelma may not be the youngest person in a room. Still sometimes she is the only woman present. She as well as Eaton wants other women in manufacturing and in         leadership positions.

Gutierrez-Anderson talking with FIRST
Q & A

What does a supply chain manager do? 

A manufacturing company cannot build a product without components from other companies. Getting and producing products involves time, transportation, the right supplies, material flow, risk, alignment with the company’s or the business world’s growth plan, and more. For example, Gutierrez-Anderson said that a motor might take four weeks of lead time whereas the materials to make it make take 20 weeks. She defined lead time as “the amount of time to get your product.”

Supply chain managers guess or forecast, order, and plan. As an example, supply chain risks are a company’s going out of business, anticipating financials, noncompliance with laws or regulations, and supplier capacity. A supply chain manager must keep tabs on the markets. For instance, she predicts a spike in demand for equipment in Brazil because of the Olympics. Also, although Eaton does not make robots, robots are used in manufacturing. What impacts robots or robotics is noteworthy.
[For one supply chain job description, read or Google the topic. 

Eaton manages helps other companies manage power. Eaton’s three areas are fluid, hydraulic, and mechanical power.

Gutierrez-Anderson has worked for Eaton so long—about 20 years—because its values closely align with her own.  Eaton
  • Does business right
  • Promotes safety
  • Promotes environmental sustainability
  • Promotes more inclusivity
Eaton helps other businesses such as Boeing, John Deere, Airbus, Ford, and Chrysler do more with less by managing power in more effective ways. Eaton designs ways for client companies to have sustainability, reduce cost, reduce energy, and more. Eaton’s power management assistance extends into electrical, aerospace, hydraulic, LEED, liquid energy, food production, hydraulics, and vehicles among other business areas. In short, indirectly Eaton touches all of our lives.

When Gutierrez-Anderson began at Eaton, the company was at $4 ½ billion and now it is a $21 billion company with a diverse culture. Eaton has research and development (R&D), strong leadership, many other strong areas, and an international presence. When she began, Eaton had only one innovation center. Now it has five with over 10,000 patents. Gutierrez-Anderson said that attendees should explore future career opportunities at Eaton.

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