It’s important to recognize strong female leaders and their contributions in manufacturing today, as well as showcase the incredible opportunities the industry has to offer.
The Manufacturing Institute’s annual STEP Ahead Awards aim to do just that, honoring women in science, technology, engineering, and production careers who exemplify leadership within their companies. These women advance manufacturing and represent the industry in a variety of ways, everything from running their organizations to testing innovations on the shop floor. Recently, two AEM member company representatives – Christine Enge and Roseane Campos, both of AGCO – received 2021 STEP Ahead Awards for both their efforts to support the industry and for serving as two female role models that inspire women at AGCO, throughout the industry and beyond.
“Young women deserve equal opportunities,” said Campos. “Not more, not less, but the same. So, I would really like to offer inspiration that helps other women grow.”
With that fact in mind, AEM recently sat down with Enge and Campos to discuss being recognized as female leaders in the industry, advice they would give to young women looking to embark on a career in manufacturing, and much, much more.
AEM: How does it feel to win this award and be recognized as a female leader in the manufacturing industry?
Campos: I feel happy and honored to win this award. It acknowledges the skills I’ve developed, and that my efforts to grow from an engineer into a global executive in an industry that’s traditionally male have paid off. It’s just great to be recognized for all the work and effort I’ve put in over the years.
Enge: I agree; I’m very proud to have our hard work and dedication be recognized by an organization as prestigious as The Manufacturing Institute.
AEM: What made you decide to embark on a career in manufacturing? How did you end up at AGCO, and what is your role within the organization?
Campos: I was educated as an engineer and manufacturing is a common career path for people with that background. So, I began work in the automobile industry and was hired by AGCO in 2012 as director of product engineering for South America. I’m now AGCO’s global director for brand governance and South America brand governance.
When I started at AGCO, I was the company’s first female director of engineering. Of course, fewer women were in engineering at the time, and I found it was important to empathize with my peers to ensure we were communicating clearly and understood each other’s goals and needs. I think that ability has helped me grow as a colleague and leader.
And then there’s my family. When I decided to start in engineering, my mother was a very strong and supportive influence. She was not an engineer, but she educated me and my sisters to be what we wanted to be. To me, it’s just so important to have another woman that makes you believe that you can be and do whatever you want.
Enge: I joined AGCO in 2005, and I’m now vice president of Human Resources, which I know can be a more traditionally female role. However, in what was once a masculine environment, I often found that my ability to provide a different perspective actually gave me the credibility I needed to have “a seat at the table.”
To me, manufacturing careers are just so critical to our nation’s infrastructure and there’s a great need for people of all backgrounds to participate in it. The industry offers a variety of different paths to take, from HR to IT to finance, and to welding, painting, engineering and quality. There’s just something for everyone to do. In addition, I get tremendous satisfaction from seeing the tangible results of our efforts, which manufacturing naturally provides.
AEM: What are some challenges that you face as a woman in your field?
Campos: I think the situation today is much better than it was in the past. When I started my career at another company, women simply had to work harder and produce better results to be evaluated at the same level as men. A lot of this is changing. For example, AGCO has a very strong diversity and inclusion program that works to build equity across our workforce. Twenty years ago, at a different company, it was a very different situation, in which women had to work much harder to have success like that of their male counterparts.
Second, it’s critical to our own success that we believe in our own potential and not allow self-limiting thinking to hold us back. Recognizing my own potential, and not letting others define me, is important. It isn’t easy to be the only women in a meeting, or the only woman in the department. So, we need to find a way to believe in our potential and understand that we can deliver the same results as men. Don’t allow yourself to be impacted by the unconscious biases – including your own – that are out there.
The larger industry needs to implement diversity and gender inclusion programs like the one at AGCO to support our peers. Both men and women have much greater opportunities to succeed when these programs are in place and leadership clearly and openly supports its goals.
Enge: I’m fortunate to work for a company like AGCO that values women in the workplace, and I have been blessed to have an equal seat at the table in the office. However, an area that might seem trivial, but one with which I think some women struggle, is engaging in small talk in groups that are primarily composed of men. Sometimes it can be difficult connecting with others when non-business topics fall outside those I don’t normally follow, like hunting or grilling or certain sports. These conversations can be very important in building closer relationships and camaraderie.
Campos: I do agree. Sharing interests and experiences with colleagues before meetings and offering input and support is incredibly important. These things help create networks that help you reach your deliverables well after the small talk. Women are really good at listening, being supportive and developing relationships. We need to leverage those talents to network and make connections.
AEM: What support have you received along your leadership journey?
Enge: I’ve received overwhelming support. That’s because AGCO executives and leadership have asked the questions and have given me the opportunity to say “Yes.” They had faith in me as a professional and a colleague, and they saw my potential before I saw it. The same is true with my family. They have always given me the opportunity to say “Yes” to what I wanted. My family has been supportive about being open to new experiences. I just can’t say enough good things about AGCO’s leadership and my family.
Campos: I agree with Christine. Inside of AGCO, we have a lot of opportunities through mentoring programs. I have also received so much support from my family when I have to travel or spend more time in the office.
AEM: If you could give one or two key pieces of advice to young women who want to work in the field of manufacturing, what would it/they be? Why?
Campos: All women should believe in their own potential and capabilities; they should set out to achieve what they want to do. Don’t let yourself be defined by others’ beliefs and opinions. Loving what you do, working hard, and always striving for better results is so important. Start with knowing yourself and believing in what you can deliver. The results will be positive.
The world is not perfect yet, but the door is open wider now for women in manufacturing than ever before. So, it’s still important to learn as much as you can about your field, so you’re prepared to contribute in a way that makes you a valuable member of your team.
Enge: First, just do it! Manufacturing is often overlooked by women as a potential career field, and I think it’s important to educate people on the power and the excitement it offers. It’s a rewarding career with opportunity and variety. Second, and maybe most importantly, when the right opportunity comes, don’t be afraid to say “Yes!”
AEM is proud to share the latest news about its members and other happenings in the equipment industry via the association’s twice-weekly AEM Industry Advisor newsletter. Is your organization a member of AEM? Does it have a member success story to share with the rest of the association’s 1,000-plus members? Let us know.
For more member company and industry news, subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor.