Rewarding Careers at 3M Start with the O2 Program. Hear from Two 3Mers Who’ve Experienced It.
At 3M, we inspire employees to search for solutions to challenging problems and always strive for personal growth, and our Optimized Operations (O2) experience is a perfect example of how we live out this mission.
We asked one current and one former member of the O2 program to sit down with us and chat about the experiences they’ve had in the program and what they’ve learned from it. Naomi Camacho, O2 Supply Chain Analyst, is seven months into her experience, and Nancy Seleski, Director of Global Facilities and Services, started her 3M career in the O2 program 32 years ago.
Let’s start at the beginning of your stories. What was it about STEM that said, “there’s something there for me?”
Naomi: I’ve had great teachers growing up who made a lasting impact on my life and at the time, inspired me to explore the idea of being a teacher myself. I visited family one summer and helped my aunt, who is an elementary school teacher, for a couple of days. I’m grateful for that time because I realized it wasn’t what I had envisioned. So when I went to college I began looking for majors where I’d still be able to make a positive impact in people’s lives and that included my love for math and science. That’s when I came across engineering. I went for it and don’t regret it!
Nancy: I also excelled in math and science, and my dad was a chemical engineer who encouraged me to pursue it as well.
Before we get to how your career brought you to 3M, how would you describe the O2 experience for those who aren’t familiar with it?
Nancy: Simply put, it’s an entry level program for recent graduates at 3M where you can learn quickly, travel and meet a lot of new people.
Naomi: As Nancy mentioned, it’s an entry level rotational program for recent graduates that has a two-year duration. During those two years you have specific training, and people supporting and teaching you about manufacturing at 3M, different systems used, and how to best perform your day to day tasks. After those two years you graduate from the program and are ready to transition into a role where you will build upon your skills.
What attracted you to 3M and the O2 program specifically?
Naomi: My dad worked for the 3M Irvine plant in California, and he would always talk about how great 3M is and how happy he was working there. So, I knew I wanted to be a part of 3M someday as well and came across the O2 program when I graduated. I’ve moved around a lot growing up and I was all for getting to experience living in different parts of the country, being in close contact with 3M’s various technologies and products, and having the opportunity to learn directly from experienced, talented and hardworking people.
Nancy: Fittingly, there were three things about 3M that I loved and still do. I loved the diversity of experiences 3M offered, the manufacturing element because that is what I was interested in and the rotational aspect of the O2 program.
Like you two, many people are attracted to the program because you get to move around and try different positions within manufacturing. What locations have you worked at?
Naomi: I am in my first assignment at 3M’s headquarters in Maplewood, Minn. as a Supply Chain Analyst for the Automotive Aftermarket division. I have a portfolio of suppliers in the U.S. and internationally who I work with to manage replenishments, find the best solutions to resolve any issues along the way, and meet required service levels while minimizing inventory. My next assignment will be in a manufacturing plant, where I will get to experience the other side of the coin.
Nancy: I had two projects while in O2, one in Knoxville, Iowa and one in Cottage Grove, Minn., where I worked as an industrial engineer in the converting department, and did layout, waste and productivity work, respectively. Having these experiences put me on an accelerated learning curve and I really enjoyed working in more than one manufacturing setting.
And how integral do you think this program has been to your career paths?
Nancy: The O2 program confirmed for me that I really love the manufacturing environment and kept me interested in pursuing a manufacturing career. It also created an immediate and lifelong network that I still value today.
Naomi: I think these experiences during the O2 program are going to play a major role in determining my career path. I know I’m going to build a strong foundation and understanding of my strengths that will help guide me to what I’m most passionate about.
I love that you said something about the network it provided, Nancy, because one thing 3M really emphasizes is the importance of networking outside of your area, especially for women in STEM who may not work with other women regularly. How has 3M helped support you as women in STEM?
Naomi: I’m a part of the Women’s Leadership Forum here, and it’s a great networking resource to connect with other women who hold different leadership positions across all business groups. Being able to hear their stories of success and how they have gotten to where they are today is empowering.
Nancy: I have had a great career at 3M as a woman in STEM. I’ve been provided great opportunities to grow, develop and use my abilities. And I’ve also been able to spend time with other women to give back to those who have helped me, which is so important.