Production Operator, Metrie

I have been in manufacturing for 18 years now! 8 years in Metrie and before that was with a sister company. Before joining this industry, I was waitressing for 17 years. One day, I had enough with a customer. A friend had just got into manufacturing that time and I asked her to get me a job there too.

My first few days there I was very nervous. It was very different from the restaurant industry. I had to have my friend teach me how to read a measuring tape. But I was learning so many new skills which I did not even know about before. Working with wood, learning all about it, learning about production, machines etc. It was this learning of so many new skills, that made me continue in this industry.

I was a production worker on the floor for many years. It was very busy, and we were on the go, all day long. You would blink and the day was gone! I then started working with grading of wood, Quality control of wood (raw materials) and eventually I also was part of the packaging team (finished product) and its quality control. This role required a lot of attention to detail. I then also moved into a new position where I was learnt various safety related knowledge. I am now also learning supervisory skills.

What are the biggest barriers you have faced and how did you overcome them?

Personally, for me no barriers. I am an open-minded person, very accepting of the environment around me. I did not have pressure from others, but I was hard on myself to get up to speed. My first 2 weeks were challenging. Everything was so new to me and I did not understand it all. I was putting so much pressure on myself. But by the 3rd week it got easier. I started realizing that I was beginning to understand the processes and workings. After that, it just got easier.

Manufacturing did have more men than women when I joined, but I don’t see myself as a lady working with other men, but as an individual working with other individuals. And my male colleagues at work have always been respectful, making me very comfortable in this environment. I felt very welcomed at Metrie.

How did you build a skill set to be successful?

It was my drive to succeed that helped me be successful. I did not want to lag behind and I wanted to be equal. And to be equal, I had to keep learning and be open. You can never say you’re tapped out on learning. I am still learning every single day, be it manufacturing, safety or supervisory skills.

What for you has been the most rewarding aspect of working in manufacturing?

The most rewarding for me has been, the sense of accomplishment! You don’t get that in the food service industry. I did quality control work for a long time, and I did it with pride. I excelled at the job.

Do you feel the manufacturing industry has changed since you first started?

In my earlier job, everything was done by hand. But here at Metrie, everything was computerized (same industry, but different as here it is semi-automated vs manual). Also, when I joined, I was the only female at the time for quite a few years but now more women are joining manufacturing.

What advice would you give other women who are new to manufacturing?

The advice I would give others is – Stick it out! Don’t let the first thing that upsets you, sway you from trying. Don’t be afraid to speak-up! It can be hard but if you can keep going one more day at a time, it can be very rewarding!