Women In The Industry – Sabrina Williams

The steel industry has been a male-dominated industry for years and continues to be one, even today. The business is poised for a change, as more women begin to enter this and other fields of work that were previously closed off. Several women have paved the way, others are continuing to follow suit, including Sabrina Williams. Sabrina is the Plant Finance Manager at Wheatland Tube steel mill in Chicago, IL.

We had the opportunity to meet and talk with Sabrina who has some amazing insight and advice for women who are interested in a career in the steel industry.

How did you know you wanted to work in this industry? What lead you to this career?
After obtaining my MBA, Zekelman approached me for an opportunity and after doing some research, I met with management. It was at the interview where I met the President of Operations who was both knowledgeable and passionate about the business and the steel industry that won me over and I knew I wanted to be a part of the team.

What is it like to be a woman in a male dominated industry?
Being a woman in an industry where it’s not common is a badge of honor and I wear it proudly!

What does your daily routine look like?
I’m a new mom so my daily routine begins with personal goals of preparing a nourishing breakfast, quality time and getting us out the door. When I arrive to the office, I plan my day over a cup of coffee and from there I probably don’t get a chance to sit still for another hour or so. As plant controller, my role requires constant communication and information gathering from those that work closest to sales and production. I rely on these interactions to understand how their work will translate into financial impact to do my job effectively.

Do you think being a woman in this industry makes the career path more difficult? Less difficult?
I believe that as a woman working in the steel industry it can be challenging but it’s clear that workplaces are aware of the gender gap, which makes a lot of people hyper aware of helping women move forward in their career. Because of this awareness, I encourage more women to take on opportunities in male dominated industries to tip the scale and leverage the playing field.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced being a woman in the steel manufacturing industry?
One of my biggest challenges is speaking up. It’s not enough to just have a seat at the table. One must also speak confidently. Women fear being ignored or rejected; however, respect comes when one’s voice is heard because it can help shape policy, the workforce and perspective. In my role, I make decisions that influence the economics of the plant so I’ve had to gain the confidence to overcome this fear and trust myself in an effort to help drive the success of the business.

What has been the best thing about being a woman in this industry?
The best thing about being a woman in this industry is being surrounded by other women in the same field. The VP of Finance is my direct manager, a woman. Seeing her and other women thrive, excel and live their dreams doing meaningful work that they love help serve as an inspiration to myself and others. In addition, it shows progression in our journey for women’s equality and equity in the workplace

What is something you are most proud of that others in your position haven’t achieved?
I am most proud of having a positive attitude towards change. This mindset helped me take on this role and makes a significant difference in how successful you can be in your career and in life. If your colleagues or management know you are receptive to new challenges and difficult assignments as well as problem solving, they are more likely to share information with you, engage and include you in on special projects. Change is certain, so one might as well embrace it.

What advice do you have for younger generations and young women who aspire to have a career whether in sales or other fields in this industry?
I highly recommend identifying a mentor and reaching out to them for direction. A mentor can support and share their own experiences with navigating the industry. A mentor can also inspire and encourage our younger generation in maintaining the confidence to continue a career path within the steel industry

Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to add that it’s not important to just focus on being one of the few women in the field or industry, instead concentrate on consistently improving your personal brand through work ethic and product to make yourself invaluable and an expert in that arena. Do this by keeping yourself accountable and holding to a standard of excellence that makes a difference in moving a business and your career forward.

Would you like to participate in our Women In The Industry series? Email us today and we will contact you to set up an interview!


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