MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. — Among the hundreds of tire business professionals gathered at the 2022 Tire Industry Association's OTR Tire Conference, a smattering claimed to have women working in management positions at their companies.
That won't change much if the industry doesn't make an effort to attract a new, and diverse, generation of employees, according to the Women in Industry Panel, held Feb. 24, during the conference.
"We have a different set of eyes and a different passion for what we do," Moderator Deborah Bjorklund, executive vice president of 31 Inc., said.
"So we bring that to your customers and to the vendors and to the owners and to the managers. We actually create trust. And trust changes the business. … If you take the time to consider a female at all levels, you may change the future of your business and definitely the future of this industry."
The women executives on the panel — Grace Guedet, category procurement for tires and rims for Caterpillar Inc.; Donzaleigh McCord, customer service manager for BKT USA Inc.; Carly Shipley, OE key account manager for Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.; and Brandy Sielaff, human resources director, Commercial Tire Inc. — admitted they initially didn't consider careers in the OTR tire industry until opportunities came along.
"Our industry is probably not bringing in the same amount of people it used to because there is another industry out there that our youth is going towards, which is IT," Bjorklund said.