Missy Rogers, President and CEO of Noble Plastics, believes schools need to connect education and employment more effectively today and develop more pride in making things again.
Q: What is your role and focus?
A: My focus is on strategic growth and risk minimization for our business. New technologies, finance vehicles, intellectual property concerns, and customer acceptance criteria consume most of my time. Our growth has allowed for delegation and specialization in our automation, molding, and new products groups, so I rarely get into the details of machinery selection or product features anymore. As a degreed mechanical engineer, my role is now more about managing the growth of Noble Plastics rather than the selection of materials or connection methods.
Q: What is the most pressing issue facing the manufacturing industry today?
A: I believe employment challenges in manufacturing are generationally driven as the culture pushes college education for its own sake, but without connecting education to employment. I speak to groups of engineering students who all seem to want to “work in design” but “not in manufacturing.” Then I ask them to name a design that is not manufactured, and just who gets to design things if not product makers? They are generally shocked when asked to connect those two tasks. These employment challenges will continue until it becomes a source of pride to make things again.
Q: What is your most important corporate initiative?
A: Enjoying rapid growth is stressing the robustness of business processes. Getting our processes simplified and clear calls for a franchise mentality. Finding the balance between what works in most cases, and what non-standard things make us special, is a challenge and requires a different stance than general practice or rules of thumb. I spend a lot of time researching best practices, just so I can prune them down or reject them as inconsistent with our core values.
Q: What will be the most important leadership qualities to possess in the future?
A: We try to focus on work-life integration. That is a key difference to work-life balance. If you picture a see-saw, balance means that either one thing or the other gets attention and energy. The more authentically you can be “who you are” in the workplace, achieving your motivations and priorities, the less stressed and more wholly satisfied we believe your life to be outside the workplace. Leaders need to make the company values and goals directly relevant to the workforce to encourage engagement and growth for both the person and for the company.
Q: What will be the greatest opportunities for manufacturers over the next five years?
A: There’s a lot of data that our systems and devices are collecting, but it seems few people have clearly driven actions based on that data, except from a lag response. I think the biggest trend will be real-time decision making and the automation of decisions and processes.
Q: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
A: I love to cook, so trying out recipes and creating new ones is something my family and I enjoy.