Meet Robyn – Manufacturing Services Technology Business Unit Manager at ArcelorMittal Dofasco North America
Passionate about seeing the next generation of women succeed, Robyn has been working in the manufacturing sector for 21 years. As a Business Unit Manager, she has responsibilities in ArcelorMittal’s Central Trades and Services and Utilities departments. A comprehensive dual role that spans across two pillars of the organization – Maintenance and Technology – Robyn is a part of exciting projects like ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s extraordinary investment project that will see the company change the way it makes steel and reduce approximately 60 per cent of its GHG emissions. It’s the equivalent of taking 725,000 internal combustion engine cars off the road!
Choosing a career in the manufacturing sector:
My mom worked as a surveyor in the construction industry, and she was out on job sites all the time. Although not exactly in manufacturing, I had a strong female role model.
When it came time to choosing my career, I wanted to do something that connected with the environment – something that I’ve always been very passionate about. I specifically targeted the Utilities department where there’s a big environmental impact of what we do. And I always thought to myself, why not do something that I’m passionate about and get paid to do it.
What continues to attract me to a career in manufacturing:
The nice thing about working at ArcelorMittal is that it’s huge. I’ve had about 10 different careers, all at the same company; it’s fast paced, and you just never know where you’re going to end up next.
There’s a lot of variety and exposure to different things. That’s very exciting to me. Another thing that keeps me energized these days, since I’m more involved in the management side, is improving our working environment, particularly as it relates to women.
There’s always struggles within a male dominated atmosphere, and what really gets me coming to work and keeping a smile on my face, is the ability to impact the working environment for future generations.
Changing the working atmosphere for women:
If we continue down the same path that we are right now, we’ll still have the same small percentage of women working in manufacturing. In my opinion, we must fundamentally change the game. For example, we must change our job profiles, so that they don’t sound like they are exclusive to men. We need to evaluate what skills we really need to do a particular job. Can we have various team members that have different skills if the team can get the job done?
It’s really time to change our thinking and methods if we want to attract more women. We need to get out and show people that women can do it. You can’t be it if you can’t see it.
Once we get women to work in manufacturing, we don’t retain them at the same rate as men.
There are barriers for women that simply aren’t there for men. Having the opportunity to talk about them makes people feel less alone. If we address those barriers, we will retain more women. The bar I would like to set for us is to have most of the women who work here tell their friends, “Hey, come join ArcelorMittal Dofasco – this is a great place for women to work”.
My biggest accomplishment working in manufacturing:
The early successes I had in my career kept me in the manufacturing sector because I didn’t fall into the pattern of naturally wanting to be a leader.
I wanted to do good work for the environment, and I managed to get some great energy projects off the ground that reduced the energy footprint significantly at ArcelorMittal. Two of the projects took the equivalent of approximately 600 homes of energy off the grid for every year, which makes me so happy.
There were also a few other projects that I’ve played a key role in during my career, but now that I’m more of a people manager, it’s really the experiences of people that I consider my biggest accomplishment.
I make it a point to make sure that I understand everyone, what makes them tick, and what their barriers are. Making one little bit of culture better for people, making it more inclusive, is a success for me.
ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion:
We have a VP who is our executive sponsor and a whole team supporting our efforts including our Business Unit Champions. We have an excellent objective to double the women in leadership by 2030. For this year alone, our objective is to increase the number of women leaders by 10%. We also hired a phenomenal Diversity and Inclusion Manager, and she’s really bringing these topics to the forefront.
If you look at ArcelorMittal as a whole, 12 per cent of our employees are women, but in manufacturing less than 6 per cent are women. We really need to target getting more women into manufacturing, and that’s where the focus is starting to shift, which is exciting.
For most of my career, I’ve kind of felt like someone who is trying to “fit in with the guys”. If you’re going to carry that heavy pail up the stairs, so am I. I’m going to do whatever it takes to be a part of the team. But recently, it started to feel like we could make some adjustments and change things to be more attractive to women through our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Network that we’re building.
I was asked to be the chair of a women focused employee resource group, and we’re going to launch this group in January of 2023. I’ve spoken with all kinds of women, probably around 60 women throughout ArcelorMittal, who are mostly in manufacturing. I’ve asked them about their experiences. Have they experienced any barriers? What can we do to help? I can’t wait to get started on addressing the barriers they identified.
Advice to my younger self:
Persistence and patience, in the right amount. Keep at it. There were so many times where I wondered if I would be able to progress my career, whether it was access to a good project or a promotion. Don’t get stuck too much on thinking that things will never happen. Just be patient and capitalize on every circumstance that comes your way and eventually you’ll obtain success.
Outside of work:
Besides spending time with my two beautiful children and husband, my fun fact is that I’m a triathlete. I love competing – I even competed in the World Triathlon Championship this year. I’m passionate about exercise and I’m so proud to see that I’m instilling the same passion in my kids.