By Michael Skinner, Editor U.S. TECH

In a highly male-dominated industry, women have worked hard to carve out a place for themselves that includes the same opportunities, respect and recognition as their male counterparts. Here we highlight a few of these women and their unique experiences that have carried them to the top.

MB “Marybeth” Allen, Manager of Application & Sales, KIC

After a few semesters of college in Brooklyn, New York, MB decided to join the workforce at Citibank, where she had much success in sales and was awarded several accolades during her time there. She eventually transferred to San Diego and met a customer working in the electronics industry as a sales rep.

Ready for a new challenge, MB decided to take a leap into a totally new industry after 17 years in banking. She attributes her early success to joining her local SMTA chapter, which connected her with engineers and mentors. MB started her own rep firm which continued to grow and later accepted a full time job with KIC, one of her principals. She’s now been with KIC 20 years.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, MB did not feel that this held her back. “What made it unique was that as long as I knew what I was talking about regarding my products, and I was honest about what I didn’t know, always got back with those answers and wasn’t afraid to ask questions, I got respect from the engineers,” MB comments.

“I’m sure there were times when someone thought ‘Oh, a young female in this industry, this is a waste of time.’ But I can’t remember many times when my meetings didn’t turn out just fine and I built wonderful relationships with many engineers, and at that time we were all really learning about SMT together.”

Currently MB is responsible for the management of sales in the Americas. She enjoys finding solutions for customers and watching their success knowing that KIC has played a part in that. KIC is also on the leasing edge with products associated with the implementation of Industry 4.0 and the smart factory, which has led to many speaking engagements.

When it comes to advice for young women interested in this industry, MB offers the following, “Never stop learning. Have a goal, focus, and go for it. If you really want something and you’re smart and determined, there’s nothing you can’ do. Oh, and remember, honesty and ethics, as long as you have those you’ll always remain on top.”

Sandy Chew, Senior Global Account Manager, SHENMAO

After receiving her BS in mechanical engineering, Sandy Chew began her work at Applied Materials as a designer, and after five years became a marketing representative. She always wanted to work with the latest technology, and AMAT was a good place to start.

Early in Sandy’s career, only about two percent of engineers were female. “I encountered all sorts of harassment from my male colleagues. I was told this is not a place for women, and I should be home having children. They also said that I was hired only because the company needed to hire females and Asians,” she says.

But Sandy proved them wrong, In fact, she took one of her ideas that was deemed “stupid’ by a male supervisor and received a patent for it.”The world has come a long way since my time as a young engineer,” Sandy adds. “Back then, there was no Me Too movement and when I reported anything to HR, they would tell me to handle it myself. This helped me develop a thick skin.”

In her long and successful career, Sandy has always enjoyed working with the latest technology – it is her passion. She has worked with semiconductors, LEDs, X-ray. and now solder. “I enjoy my job because it gives me the opportunity to meet lots of people, and work with them to develop new and improved technology, which makes our lives easier and better.”

In her position as global account manager with SHENMAO America, her goal is to help make SHANMAO a household name in the industry. When asked what advice she would give to young women interested in the electronics manufacturing industry, she replies, “To work in technology is an honor. You get to help develop the latest ideas for improving our future, There will be many hurdles along the way – just brush them off and don’t ever give up.”

Jessica Zhang, Program Manager, Super PCB

After receiving both her MA in electrical and computer engineering from University of Texas, and her MBA from Duke, Jessica Zhang worked as a design engineer for large telecom equipment producers until she was promoted to a manager position. As a child, Zhang was interested in science and technology and felt it was quite natural to pursue a career in electronics.

“In a male dominated industry, I had to work extra hard to prove myself,”she comments. “I had to have a deep understanding of the technical issues and keep up with the most current developments of the technology, and go above and beyond to serve the customers’ needs.”

As the current program manager at Super PCB, Jessica helps customers find the best values in the PCB industry. Super PCB has gained customers’ trust by providing quality PCBs at the most competitive prices. They focus on building long-term relationships with customers.

“I am very proud that Super PCB has established a good reputation in industry and has been trusted by our customers,” she adds. “My background in both engineering and management gives me a better understanding of the customer needs, so I can better serve them. PCBs are used in every electronic product, so quality is key., We provide an optimal solution to achieve maximal value.”

With her passion being tied into the company she has helped to build, the future for Zhang is going to consist of many challenges of the best sort. “In the next few years, we expect some changes in PCB industry. The overall trend in consumer electronics is smaller, lighter and higher density. This trend is reflected in PCBs as well. In addition to technical advancement, we also constantly improve our supply chain and optimize our operation, so we can become a more efficient organization and provide our customers the best overall value in PCB purchasing process. We are growing fast. We hope to speed up the growth in the next few years.”

Finally, Zhang wants to encourage young women to pursue careers in this industry. “Engineering is a growing field with many new opportunities ahead. Young women should not be intimidated, but should embrace these new opportunities, It will be an exciting career!”

Sherry Stepp, Global Marketing Manager, KYZEN Corporation

Sherry Stepp started with KYZEN in 1997 as a sales and marketing assistant and immediately dove into her role with the company, quickly rising through the ranks. “In my 22+ years with KYZEN, I have learned the cleaning chemistry business from the bottom up,” comments Stepp.

“This gave me a unique vuew of how things progressed through the company, starting with taking the order, all the way to getting the order of the door. As KYZEN expanded their global footprint, there were yet more opportunities for me to grow and learn. After multiple promotions, various titles I am proud to represent KYZEN in my current position as global marketing manager.”

In her current role, Sherry is responsible for KYZEN’s overall marketing strategy globally. Promoting and communicating the KYZEN brand inside the company and to the world.

Sherry was inspired by the technological advancements being made, working with customers who built rocker boosters for the space shuttle, and even making cellphones before they were a commonplace item. She was enthralled with the futuristic aspect of it all. “I was hooked and wanted to be part of it. I didn’t know at the time that I would be in the minority as a woman in this industry, but KYZEN never made gender an issue, and integrating with the culture of our industry was not much of a challenge after growing up with seven brothers!”

As a female in a male-driven industry, Sherry proudly serves as a U.S. ambassador for F.L.I.T.E. (Female Leaders in Technology Everywhere). She has been on several panels discussing the gender gap, and volunteered as a mentor, Her next goal is to develop an official mentoring program that connects young women with experienced and successful women in the industry to help them navigate the challenges and help them to become leaders in their own right.

“The best advice I could give to young women looking to break into this industry would be this: Learn something new every day, join a company that values and encourages you to be your very best, find a mentor and do something you love and enjoy!”

Michelle Ogihara, Senior Sales and Marketing Manager, Seika Corporation

Over 20 years ago, Michelle Ogihara began her work with Seika Corporation as a receptionist and sales assistant.  She demonstrated intelligence, leadership, and drive that helped catapult her career with the company. “Overall I was fortunate to have been received with an open mind by my superiors, colleagues and customers alike when presenting ideas and solutions.”comments Ogihara.

“As a female that has worked hard to achieve a management role at a Japanese-American company, it has been a satisfying experience to gain respect within both a culture where men generally held positions of power and an industry that is mainly male-dominated.”

Today, Michelle is the senior sales and marketing manager overseeing the sales network of a territory covering North and South American. Seika now has four offices with two demo centers and she is the manager of the latest San Francisco branch. this is quite and accomplishment, as Seika represents over fifteen top-tier suppliers for electronics assembly from Japan.

In this management position, Michelle is the team leader overseeing the national sales, marketing and distribution of Seika equipment throughout North and South America. Michelle is an active member of the SMTA, taking on various board positions as a chapter leader, co-chairs the MSD Council, and serves on several committees on the national level. She is also a past recipient of the SMTA “Excellence in Leadership Award.” Further, Michelle is proudly one of the two U.S. Ambassadors for FLITE dedicated to uplifting and empowering women in the industry.

“I believe that it is important to support other women in industry to be able to experience the same opportunities to reach success based on talent and hard work independent of gender or other bias. This is the goal of FLITE.”

Michelle is clearly a big proponent of welcoming women into the electronics manufacturing industry, and uses her status to offer advice and mentorship. It is a wonderful time to be female in electronics assembly,” she adds. “Women have unique qualities and capabilities that will benefit any progressive company interest in growth and success.”

Susan Morehouse CEO, Kodiak Assembly

Susan Morehouse received her BA from Chatham University and began working for the Museum of Scientific Discovery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. What initially began as a fundraising job soon turned into a more integral part of the museum’s operations. Morehouse realized the museum’s ability to design and manufacture their own exhibits was a valuable asset, which she then marketed to other museums. As executive director of the museum for five years, Susan showed an overall profit for each of those years. this experience led her to move from the non-profit to the profit sector.

One of three founding members of Kodiak Assembly Solutions, Susan is the current CEO and is heavily involved in planning, finance and HR. She finds balancing the needs of the employees, customers and vendors an enjoyable challenge each day. When asked about the future of women in electronics and tech, Susan says she hopes to mentor fledging entrepreneurs, perhaps from a local university.

She also offers advice to young women who may be interest in the industry,”Read your local business journal and volunteer for area business group activities. This will give you a sense of whether this is a field you’ll enjoy as well as knowledge about the business. Plus, you’ll build a terrific network within the industry to help launch that new career.”


from the August 2019 issue of U.S. TECH Magazine







KIC Thermal