Don’t Give Up on Finding a Meaningful Career: Here’s How 3 Women Grew In Unique Ways That Fit Them
22 August 2022
An unconventional path, a change in career and the opportunity to grow in other meaningful, personal ways.
That’s what it means to grow your own way at Weir ESCO — a developer and manufacturer of engineered wear parts and replacement products used in mining and infrastructure. The company is also a big supporter of people who undergo career changes to find the right path for them.
For example, take Patricia Silva Moraes, who worked as a caretaker before she came to Weir ESCO in Betim, Brazil. Her life changed 13 years ago when she took the opportunity to participate in a free welder technologies course at a local community college.
Moraes shares that this was, “a radical change in my life,” as she shifted to a completely new work environment and skillset. As a welder, her workplace changed to a factory and she had to learn how to manage new relationships, define new strategies and put more focus on her development.
Today, Moraes is successful in her welding career and is one of the few female production welders on the shop floor at Weir ESCO. But being in a male-dominated role doesn’t define her.
“Being a welder doesn’t affect who I am as a woman,” she explains. In reflecting on her journey, Moraes notes that, “I didn’t give up, and I’m proud about my personal and professional conquests and growth.”
Moraes’ colleague Cristie Rozell of Portland, Oregon, is another example of a woman who found her own path at Weir ESCO — which involved taking a path that wasn’t a straight line.
Although Rozell joined Weir ESCO in sales, she ended up taking a temporary stretch opportunity to lead the integration of a newly acquired artificial intelligence and machine learning mining technology business called Motion Metrics as the M&A Integration Project Manager. This was a big leap for Rozell; however, although she was intimidated, she was encouraged by leaders at the company to trust herself with this big opportunity. “I feel blessed to have been able to work amongst such a great team of leaders during this special assignment,” she says. Not only this, but the company provided her with a consultant to help with her lack of M&A experience.
While the project was a significant change, and involved handling a large amount of work in only seven months, Rozell took it all in stride and ended up not only succeeding — but gaining many new skills and incredible relationships. “It was life-changing for me personally and professionally,” says Rozell.
Now, she’s returned to sales with these new skills and is Weir ESCO’s Global Sales Enablement Technology Manager. Sales is an area that Rozell is personally passionate about. “I just truly enjoy working with sales people and technology,” she tells us. “It’s because sales people have one of the most difficult jobs,” she continues, noting that they have to be on the front lines, and “face rejection on a daily basis, dust themselves off and do it again and again with a smile on their face.” At Weir ESCO, Rozell was able to find a role that’s meaningful for her — while having opportunities to learn and grow in unexpected directions, too!
Finally, we got to speak with Hillary Swogger, who used the resources available to her at Weir ESCO to pivot to the field where she could tap into her potential. Swogger’s journey at Weir ESCO started in HR in Bucyrus, Ohio, where she “had to learn about effective communication, and objective rules and laws,” Swogger explains.
However, after pivoting to the supply chain team to become a production planner, her primary responsibility became scheduling workflows for employees, meaning that Swogger had to develop a whole new set of skills. “My new focus is more on discretionary judgment and facility workflow,” she tells us. “My current position has given me a welcomed challenge. I’m still building my experience in the manufacturing industry and transitioning to this role has been a learning curve, not only in my ability to learn the tasks, but to understand the ‘whys’ behind the decisions and workflow.”
This new position has turned out to be a great fit for Swogger and has widened her knowledge of the industry. “Something I learned that surprised me the most is how much I did not know, and how willing peers have been to help me along my journey,” shares Swogger.
Further, she’s learned how to make sure she creates opportunities that are personally meaningful to her as well. “I’ve always had a natural inclination and passion to serve others,” Swogger notes. “While my current role does not center around people, I still look for ways I can support and serve my peers … Displaying positivity and integrity in the role can influence others to follow suit by putting people first.”
Are you interested in following an unconventional career path of your own and finding a role that suits you? Read on to find the best advice and tips from these three experienced professionals.
DEFINING CAREER PATHS
Clearly, you’ve all defined your own career paths. What does “grow your own way” mean to you personally and professionally?
Moraes: I was able to walk the path of my dreams without fear. I worked and fought hard to prove that I could be good at what I do. I think I proved this, and, consequently, my personal life grew along with it.
Rozell: To me, that means finding what brings you joy and doing the best work of your life. In my case, that means work that doesn’t even feel like work. I’ve found that titles do not matter to me, people do. Seeing people learn and grow and our business expand and transform is what really moves the needle for me!
Swogger: Professionally, “grow your own way” means several things. First, you should reflect on your behavioral strengths, personality traits and natural actions that create a sense of personal satisfaction. Then, transfer these to a professional goal that suits your natural abilities while still providing a challenge. It’s essential to stay focused on your professional goal as a big picture while achieving small victories along the way and staying open to opportunities.
Personally, “grow your own way” means that you should tap into your strengths to address your weaknesses. Taking this advice from my dad to, “Get better every day,” I try to stay in a regular state of practicing self-reflection, self-awareness and self-improvement. While I’ll always be a work in progress, I think this simple motto helps me focus on self-improvement, which has allowed me to grow in ways I’ve felt lacking or to blossom in areas of strength.
What’s a strategy (or strategies) you’ve used when trying a new role or new skill that you think has been particularly effective?
Moraes: I focus on being open minded and adapting myself. By motivating myself about challenges and believing in myself, I can do anything. It’s also important to be passionate about my role.
Rozell: A few strategies are:
-Humility and authenticity will get you everywhere.
-Genuinely connect with people. Be kind and seek to understand the team you are working with on an individual basis. Ask about them as human beings and listen more than you speak.
-Do not come in with any sort of “know-it-all” assumptions.
-Understand your stakeholders and their DISC profiles, and communicate with them the way they want to be communicated to. For example, if they are a “D” (Dominant) and prefer “direct” communications, then you adapt.
Swogger: A strategy I’ve used in my new job is learning individual tasks, one at a time, instead of mastering every responsibility at once.
What is your No. 1 piece of advice for other women who want to make a career change?
Moraes: Whatever professional career you choose, you must love it, because it makes you a better professional. Sometimes, you have to prove your capabilities, but, in the moment, others know if you really love and want it. So never give up.
Rozell: Be willing to be vulnerable. This is hands down one of the hardest things for me! I have a crippling perfectionist syndrome, so I tend to want to shy away from trying new things because of this deep fear of failure. But, it’s okay to be vulnerable, because it gives others the chance to offer their expertise to help you, and that makes them feel valuable in the process — a win-win for all.
Swogger: My main advice for women who want to move into a different role at Weir ESCO is to widen your professional network, learn as much as possible (even if it’s not exciting to you!), ask questions and speak up when you don’t understand the topic and/or want more information. Don’t settle with your development until you go home feeling satisfied with what you contributed each day.