Meet Marina Costa - Production Manager at Metrie

Marina has been working for over 30 years across various industries from construction to automotive to now manufacturing at Metrie.

What made you choose a career in traditionally male dominated industries?

My biggest influencer has been my older brother. He would study physics, math, and chemistry for his chosen field of chemical engineering and as a younger sibling I always found myself trying to follow in his footsteps. At home, we were always building and fixing things and of course playing and watching sports on TV. In many ways, that was my first introduction to the trades.

When it came time to choose a career path in high school, my mom would say that Quebec’s “pure and applied sciences” program or trades ‘are not for women’. But my brother and dad always told me to follow what I wanted to do. At the same time, in high-school, I had a physics teacher who said, ‘You all want to become engineers, but you won’t’. I knew I liked physics, chemistry, and math, so I took this as a challenge and with the support of my brother and father, I chose the Pure and Applied Sciences program in college and successfully completed a College degree (D.E.C) and later a University degree (Bachelor in Civil Engineering).

My career journey:

After university, I found my first job drafting plans for an engineering firm. This role was more of an office job, which I did not enjoy much, so I shifted my interests towards the construction industry and eventually accepted positions in an engineering role for the construction of industrial and commercial buildings. In this new role, I was exposed to and interacted with the different trades, engineers, and customers. I learned a lot, such as supervision, planning, estimating, scheduling, time management, rules & regulations, standards and building relationships.

I then accepted a position at General Motors of Canada (GM) as a supervisor. This role was an eye-opener for me. Almost everyone in the team that I was to supervise was much older than me, had many years of experience and I sensed resistance. Still my success in this role was my attitude of “I am here to learn. You are teaching me, but as I’m in a supervisory role, I will give direction”.

Over the years at GM, I have learned many aspects of manufacturing in the automotive industry, by working in various departments, performing different roles & responsibilities, and leading teams, resulting in a wide knowledge base, and understanding of the business, production, processes, and procedures. Over time, I was promoted to different levels of the organization, due to my strong performance results, exceptional behaviour, leadership skills and building relationships with teams. Here I am today, where I have recently joined Metrie’s manufacturing team as a Production Manager. 

How did you build your skill set to be successful?

Never stop learning. I learned something in every role I had in manufacturing. I learned about making decisions, taking ownership, assembly, production, standardized work, processes and procedures, procurement, supply chain, all the while maintaining focus on customer satisfaction, quality, and safety. Simultaneously, it was important to stay up-to date with the latest technologies, such as automation and continuously improve on current status. “We can always do better”. In leading, managing, and coaching teams, I have learned to listen, support, engage and empower the people, and recognize their successes.

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

For me it would have to be the learnings from each and every role I have had. The learnings and teachings enabled me to contribute to the company’s success. In manufacturing, there is a lot of focus on efficiencies; how do we produce more, how do we reduce downtime, how can we reduce labor and material costs, etc.? Therefore, using continuous improvement tools to identify areas of opportunities leads to constant learning, enabling me to drive change, doing what I love to do with a positive attitude and successful outcomes. These have been most rewarding aspects for me.

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

With STEM and a focus on Women in Manufacturing, I am seeing many more women in engineering and manufacturing roles. I am also seeing women in supervisory, managerial and CEO roles.

Similarly, with new technologies and the availability of information online, there are more avenues to learn about manufacturing and technological advancements have given rise to more opportunities, which are now skills-sets based and no longer gender based.

Also, the culture in manufacturing has changed. Now we focus on achievements, celebrate success and are connecting with people a lot more professionally and personally than was done before.

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

Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it! If there is something you want to do, just do it, even if it is outside your comfort zone, as that is when you learn the most. When things go wrong, learn from it, and proceed forward. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can be or what you can do! Just be the best you!