June 19, 2020
Being an engineer means being able to touch people's lives. Engineers are able to improve and innovate products behind the scenes that may make the difference between someone receiving a lifesaving medicine or not. Each individual journey in engineering will look different, especially as new technologies are developed, different customer needs are uncovered, and women continue to break through the previously male-dominated field.
"Being a female engineer means being responsible for generating a different perspective by relating to the end user in a different way. It also means having the intelligence to fix the problem, the humility to know when someone has a better idea and the courage and resilience to speak loud enough to be heard." - Yvette Ricker, Plant Manager
For Yvette Ricker, her path as an engineer has been anything but ordinary. She began her career with Sonoco after graduating from the University of Tennessee and has explored many roles within the company since. "Engineering has opened so many doors for me," says Yvette. "I have had opportunities in leadership positions, I have been able to live and work in multiple locations, all while doing what I love!" As someone who set out to become an engineer in the medical field but ended up finding a passion as an engineer in manufacturing, Yvette's story is evidence that there are so many opportunities to make a difference within engineering.
For Yvette, no day is ever the same. Her position as Plant Manager for the Sonoco Thermosafe plant in Hillview, Kentucky allows her to interact with employees in every position; whether that be through walking the floor as part of her daily routine, attending meetings, prioritizing safety, responding to customer needs, reviewing financials and process improvements or reviewing open order reports. “I have learned so much from interactions with folks at the plant such as why a specific machine runs a certain way and how to fix it, how teamwork can change the dynamics and culture of a business, and how to use a pallet jack correctly!” She has been able to form relationships and gain real world knowledge that she would have never learned sitting behind a desk or in a classroom.
When discussing constants throughout her career, Yvette stated, “I am constantly inspired by the hard-working people I am surrounded by every day. From an early age, I saw both of my parents pour their energy into their careers in manufacturing and engineering. Now, I see the passion that my sister has for her work and the dedication that my husband has for his. These people inspire me to work harder every day.” As a female engineer, Yvette credits some of her successes to several individuals that have inspired, mentored, and challenged her along the way. A piece of advice that Yvette stresses for others who are looking to grow within the industry is to say yes when others say no. “It may mean working an off-shift, working overtime when you don't want to, signing up for a team that nobody else did, or saying yes to a project that may feel out of reach at the time. It is important to be willing to go the extra mile because it will pay off in the long run.”
Engineers have the ability to change the world. Female engineers have the ability to #shapetheworld. Today we’re celebrating all of the men and women that have empowered others to make a difference.