Women In The Steel Industry – Megan Osborne
The steel manufacturing industry has been a male-dominated industry for years and continues to be one, even today. The industry 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, and others are continuing to follow suit. To continue to encourage and empower women to work in manufacturing, Zekelman Industries is starting our new blog series,
“Women in the Steel Industry”. We want to share stories and interviews from women who have grown their career in the steel industry and hear from those who are just starting out – this is your story!
We had the opportunity to meet and talk with Megan Osborne, Northeast Regional Manager for Western Tube. She has some amazing insight and suggestions for women who are interested in a career in the steel industry.
How did you know you wanted to work in this industry? What led you to this career?
I have heard many people in our industry say that they do not remember how they got here butthey know they will never leave. That is my story. My introduction to the industry was uneventful. I was working as a sales and logistics coordinator for a French furniture company and realized that in order to continue to grow my career I would need to look elsewhere. I found a listing for a sales and logistics coordinator for a local manufacturer on a job posting website. I had no idea who they were, what they did, or what conduit was. But I knew I could sell stuff and I could coordinate shipments. After a short interview process I accepted a position and my career in the electrical industry began.
What is it like to be a woman in a male dominated industry?
I get asked this question a lot and my answer is always the same, it is great! I do not see myself as different from my coworkers. I frequently forget that I am the exception to the status quo for our industry. What I see is an opportunity. The opportunity to be the best I know how to be, to excel at everything I do, to learn from my mistakes, and to keep growing. My hope is that, whether they are women or men, that I am surrounded by people that see these same opportunities.
What does your daily routine look like?
As a Regional Sales Manager, my routine is different every day. When I’m traveling, I am usually up by 6am, grab coffee, check email, and make sure I am prepped for my sales calls for the day. The day is filled with traveling with our agents, meeting customers, and helping to grow our business and our brand. The evenings are either customer dinners or a quick bite and then catching up on emails from the day. I always end my evening with a call to my son and husband.
When I am not traveling, I am up at 6am, grab coffee, make breakfast, walk the dog, and am at my desk by 7:30am. I spend the day on the phone talking with agents, following up from the previous week’s sales calls, preparing for the next weeks trip, and reviewing reports to assess where the next opportunity for growth is with each agent. In the evenings I cook dinner (I love to cook!), eat dinner with my family, and hang out with my son, husband, mother-in-law, and dog.
Do you think being a woman in this industry makes the career path more difficult? Less difficult?
I think that being a woman in this industry gives us a unique opportunity and the level of difficulty is based on our perspective and our approach. If we approach situations with the mindset that we are different because we are women, that will automatically make things more challenging. If we approach situations with the mindset that we are the right person for this particular situation and that we are ready for the challenge, no matter what it looks like, it gets easier. It gets fun!
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced being a woman in the steel manufacturing industry?
I think that my biggest challenge, as well as my biggest opportunity, is being under estimated. Whether that is because I am young, a female, or still have a lot to learn, I am not sure. The end result is the same. It’s an opportunity for me to change people’s perception about women in our industry. I am not afraid to get my hands (or my heels) dirty, I am always willing to learn something new, I will openly admit when I do not have the answer but will always find it out after the fact, and I enjoy the challenge when someone thinks I cannot do something…because that just makes me want to do it more.
What has been the best thing about being a woman in this industry?
The best thing so far has been the people that have helped me get to where I am. I have had some amazing people help me in my career. They have provided me with education, input, advice, and when needed, a strong and direct opinion about what I should be doing differently. No success can ever be achieved alone. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
What is something you are most proud of that others in your position haven’t achieved?
This is a tough one. I work with some amazing people that have achieved so much and continue to help me in my position. I will say that I am proud of what have I accomplished and where I am in my career today. I take pride in the work I do. My goal is to walk away at the end of each day feeling confident that I have given 110%.
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?
My advice is to start at the ground level and work your way up. Whether that is at the front desk in an office, on the main line on the production floor, or as an intern within the company, just get your foot in the door. Nothing worth having comes easy. Starting at the ground level gives you the opportunity to learn about different positions and departments and to learn how the company and the industry works. If you are not sure what you want to do long term, starting at an entry level position allows you to determine which path you may want to take. If you know exactly what you want and where you want your career to go, then learning how to do every job on the way up will strengthen your knowledge base and make you more effective in your role.
Anything else you would like to add?
I hope that any women choosing to become part of this industry see that the opportunities are here to build a long a fruitful career. My experience, which may be different than others, is that if I am good at what I do, I work hard, and I make it clear what I am working to achieve, then anything is possible. But I cannot sit by and wait for the opportunities. I have to be part of creating them.
Would you like to participate in our Women in the Steel Industry series? Email us today and we will contact you to set up an interview!