This month's column is dedicated to Kelly Ann Hintemeyer, my daughter and the "KA" in our company, SEKA International. I can hear you asking, "What is Stan talking about now, and what does this have to do with me improving my company's manufacturing processes?"
In September of 1978 I had my first real taste of IMTS, the big machine tool show held in Chicago every two years. I had just been appointed to a sales management position for a major machine tool builder, and I spent the two weeks before the show opened helping set up our booth. One of the impressions that has stayed with me the past 20-some years was the lack of females on the show floor during setup. There may have been more, but I can only remember three: Sue Augustine, now president of Creative Concepts, an advertising firm in the Buffalo, New York, area; Cathy Atkinson, now an account executive with Exhibit Group in Pittsburgh; and Lynn Anderson, co-owner of machine tool distributor Able Machinery.
I know that things have changed, but for an industry with so many "mom and pop" operations we do not have as many high profile women as other high-tech industries. Part of the reason is our lack of support to the many talented young women who join us each year. We don't have the ability to provide them with the mentoring that their male compatriots enjoy. The following is a possible solution to help us retain some of the best talent that we have.
The Association of Women in the Metal Industries (AWMI) is a professional society of people who share the belief that women in similar industries who come together benefit themselves, their careers and their companies through interaction, education and the sharing of expertise. AWMI was founded in California in 1981 to foster the professionalism and personal growth of women in the metal industries, address their unique challenges and publicize their achievements. The programs and activities of AWMI are structured to enhance members' knowledge, skills and experience. AWMI advocates the promotion of professional women and the increase in their numbers in the metal industries.
Membership is reserved for individuals who are career-oriented, who seek opportunities for professional growth and achievement, and who are willing to give generously of their time for the mutual benefit of all members and the metal industries. AWMI members belong to a local chapter, which, combined with the other chapters, forms the national organization, which now has international membership.
AWMI began with the vision of Heidi Doran, AWMI founder. Ms. Doran pursued the creation of an organization that would offer meetings and forums that would promote and develop the educational backgrounds and professionalism of women in the metal industries. Additionally, it would provide a networking system for its members to meet other purchasing, sales and management women to enhance their careers and career opportunities.
As AWMI has continued to grow, the need for a higher level of maturity was evident. Year by year, step by step, AWMI and its members had been gaining industry recognition and acceptance, especially as women's careers in the metal industries were maturing and expanding. They confronted the necessity to expand and intensify service to their members so they could more fully implement the commitment to increase the stature, professionalism and success of their members in the metal industries now and into the 21st Century.
A professional association management firm provides administrative and clerical assistance for the national leadership in implementing programs and services for members. The national headquarters was moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where the management firm is located. The AWMl leadership is now able to fine-tune both the nationwide structure and the flow of communication within the organization.
Current president Sue Utton says, "AWMI founders had a vision and made dreams become reality. Now, as women's careers in the metal industries are maturing and expanding, AWMI's current leaders must do the same. AWMI will need to provide stronger programs than ever before to help its members develop new skills and abilities to compete in the workplace. AWMI will need to address technology issues, communication skills, international business issues and a host of other arenas to support its members' continued successes."
I urge you to support your female co-workers by encouraging them to inquire about the benefits that this association can provide to them.
For additional information please contact Sue M. Utton, vice president of sales, at PrimeAdvantage, (312) 601-3134 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.