At 3M, we want all employees to have challenging careers while making a difference. Here, women in STEM inspire us every day by devoting their work to improving lives all over the world.
We recently asked Lean Six Sigma Operations Manager Andrea Dodge and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Jessica Rodriguez-Navarro to chat about what being a 3Mer means to them and their advice to their younger selves. Together, the women have a combined 22 years of experience at 3M and have become Lean Six Sigma experts but have had their own unique journeys in getting to where they are today.
Andrea: I am newer to Minnesota, since 2014, and I love it here! It took no time for me to fall in love with the beautiful scenery and all the fun things to do. I had been warned that the winters were long and cold, but now we go ice skating, sledding and visit frozen waterfalls during the long winters.
Jéssica: I moved from Puerto Rico to Iowa for grad school. That is when I heard about 3M and was recruited to move to Hutchinson, Minnesota. It was interesting getting used to the weather and “small” town living. I got to experience some fun activities like dog sledding in Ely, snowmobiling and ice fishing in Hutchinson, and even did a polar bear plunge on a minus 2-degree Fahrenheit day. Then, when I moved to Kentucky, I felt at home right away. It’s beautiful and people are very welcoming.
Andrea: Just the question makes me laugh. I am sure I thought I knew everything I needed to know when I started. But I learned so much through overcoming challenges, trying new things and seeing how different leaders work. In 11 years at 3M, I have experienced five different roles at two plants and started my most recent role in Supply Chain at 3M’s headquarters. Each role has had its challenges, key learnings and rewards. As I look back, I would not change a thing.
Jéssica: My level of self-confidence has changed. It took me a long time to see what others in my organization saw in me. Sometimes we hold ourselves to unreachable standards that can hold us back.
Andrea: When I first started working at 3M, I felt like the outsider because most of the team I worked with had been at 3M for 15-35 years, and the culture was very different from my last company. Now I would say there is no single description that could describe how a 3Mer “looks.” But I can describe the traits of the 3Mers I work with as hardworking, creative, collaborative and customer-focused.
Jéssica: I agree. There is a sense of connection between 3Mers and the communities that surround us that I’ve felt since my first year at the Hutchinson, Minnesota plant and the headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota. And when I moved to Kentucky, I realized Cynthiana’s 3Mers are not any different.
Andrea: I find confidence in gaining small wins, when peers say “thank you” or “I want you on my team,” when I see change being embraced, and through my mentors.
Jéssica: It helps me to reflect on what we have accomplished as a team and to see my team’s successes. I also gain confidence when I think about the times where I succeeded even when I was not certain I had all the knowledge needed for the role.
Andrea: The mentor program at 3M is fantastic. I have received great direction from my mentors and have seen the impact in my career. I would have never had the confidence to take on such diverse roles had it not been for their confidence in me, support and leadership.
Jéssica: I have had many informal mentors throughout my career. These have been people that I have worked with or I respect and appreciate for their unfiltered thoughts – technical or professional. I still talk to my boss from 2008 whenever I am considering the next step in my career.
Andrea: I spend some free time helping with Junior Achievement, which allows me to influence grade schoolers to get involved in STEM or their communities.
Jéssica: I used to teach Spanish classes for 3Mers at the plant I worked in. Being fluent in Spanish has come in handy many times at 3M, like when my team supplied product to 3Mers in Latin American countries, or when I had a two-week assignment at 3M Juarez. I wanted to share that knowledge with my co-workers.
Andrea: I am sure there were several times where I could have looked around and found that I was the only woman in the room. But I wouldn’t have even noticed. I have never felt judged at 3M based on my gender. The advice I would give to any woman who finds herself the only woman at the table is the less time you spend worrying about it, the more time you have to make a positive impact.
Jéssica: Same here. Unfortunately, it is very common in manufacturing to have only a handful of females at technical or leadership roles. I can’t say that I’ve never felt treated differently, but it is so unusual that I can remember each time. My advice would be that if someone does treat you differently, or dismisses your thoughts, don’t let it hold you back. Speak up. Reach out to a mentor and ask for advice. Talk it through. You are not alone.
Andrea: Have more confidence. I used to hesitate to take on what I perceived to be a tough job because I feared a big issue might come up that I would not be able to solve on my own. What I have learned is that you are never alone. I have also learned that there is truth in the saying “You eat an elephant one bite at a time.” Surprisingly, those scary, challenging situations are what helped me grow the most.
Jéssica: You are right on. I will summarize it with: “Trust yourself more - Confía en tí misma.”
Andrea and Jéssica’s stories are truly inspiring and at 3M, we want to make sure all our employees’ voices are heard. Whether you’re a candidate who has interviewed with 3M or a current employee, we’d love for you to anonymously share your experiences with us on our Glassdoor page.
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