Paving the Way for More Women in Manufacturing

Episode 206

October 18, 2022

Mavens of Manufacturing host Meaghan Ziemba started the live video broadcast series to help close the gender and skills gap in the manufacturing industry. The show is a place for women in the male-dominated industry to share their stories and support one another, as well as offer mentorship for women at the start of their careers. The Mavens community also works with the education system in the US to better inform young women and girls about manufacturing or engineering career pathways.

Paving the Way for More Women in Manufacturing Transcript:

Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White. 

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how you doing, sir? 

Carman Pirie: I am intimidated, Jeff, and you? 

Jeff White: That doesn’t happen often. 

Carman Pirie: Well, I mean, I’m not a maven of manufacturing. I don’t know if you are. 

Jeff White: I’m not. I’m definitely not. 

Carman Pirie: And here we are. I mean, we’re gonna try to as amateur hacks pull this off when we’ve got a pro on the show. 

Jeff White: Yeah. Exactly. 

Carman Pirie: I don’t know. 

Jeff White: It’s not often that we get to interview other podcast hosts, and it is sometimes kind of… You’re right. It’s a little intimidating. 

Carman Pirie: It always does remind me of the old web 2.0 days where everybody talked about… Everybody had a blog that blogged about blogging. 

Jeff White: I think that was how we met, if I recall, was talking about that at a tweetup. 

Carman Pirie: Oh, oh. Yes. Yes. Yes, those were as sexy fun as everybody can imagine by the name. 

Jeff White: The early days of social media. But yeah, we’ve got a great guest today, Meaghan Ziemba. She’s a technical writer and the host of the Mavens of Manufacturing Podcast. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Meaghan. 

Meaghan Ziemba: Thank you for having me. How are you? 

Jeff White: Doing great. Really nice to be here with you. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. It’s awesome to have you on the show. 

Meaghan Ziemba: Thanks. I’m really excited to have the conversation. I have been recently getting interviewed a lot lately, which has been weird, because usually I’m the one in the interviewer seat, interviewing other people, so it’s been weird getting invited to talk about my story, because I like sharing other people’s stories, so it’s kind of flipped around. 

Jeff White: We’re kind of the same way. Every once in a while someone asks us to speak, but you know, most of the time we’re in the interviewer’s chair. 

Carman Pirie: How are you doing with this newfound celebrity, Meaghan?

Meaghan Ziemba: Now very well, actually. I went to IMTS a couple weeks ago in Chicago and I was out with a friend on one of the days and a girl came up to me and she was like, “Oh, you’re Meaghan the Maven.” And I’m like, “No, I’m not.” Which, I had my Maven gear, my shirt on, and my friend kind of looked at me and he was like, “Why did you lie to that girl?” And I’m like, “I kind of freaked out. I didn’t know what to do. That’s not normal for me for people to just come up to me and know who I am.” And he just started laughing at me and I’m like, “Now I feel bad because she’s gonna see me on my videos and stuff and be like, ‘That girl lied to me. Why did she do that?’” 

Carman Pirie: Hopefully, they find this podcast and they get the apology. 

Jeff White: Yeah. It’s a rather circuitous route to it, though. 

Carman Pirie: I’m kind of reminded, I don’t know if this is a Simpsons or Family Guy episode, where they were in the witness protection program, but they had t-shirts that were proud members of the witness protection program, which kind of messed it up. 

Jeff White: That’s the first thing they give you. Yeah. Here, put this on. 

Carman Pirie: Yes. Well, the t-shirt is a dead giveaway. 

Jeff White: Absolutely. But I think it’s interesting, though, because you’ve managed to build a profile for yourself, and like you say, it’s a bit of an unexpected celebrity. I think Gary Vaynerchuk would call himself a Triple Z celebrity. Now he might be closer to the Xs or something. 

Carman Pirie: Trying to get to the A list.

Jeff White: Trying to work his way up. So, you know, that’s where we all have to start, but tell us about your journey to becoming a podcast host and what made you decide to start this show? 

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah, so I wasn’t… I didn’t have any long-term plans or goals to be a podcast host. I actually was never interested in podcasting before. I knew a lot of people that liked to listen to podcasts while they were taking long drives, and a lot of my friends who are travelers love them, and I just never… I have a short attention span, so if I’m in the car, I like to listen to music because then I can sort of zone out and not have to pay attention, and I feel like podcasts weren’t for me because I would zone out part of that conversation. So, I never really listened to them or anything. 

But I’m a technical writer. I’ve been writing for industrial manufacturing since 2008 and worked with a trade publication for most of my career. Tried higher education, got completely bored out of my mind. So then I came back to the sector, and I worked for several different companies helping build their brand narrative and creating some of their content—whether it was video scripts, blog articles, tech papers, whitepapers, case studies, social media text… I basically created all of that content for them. 

And then right before the pandemic hit, I asked my husband—I was like, “Hey, I want to be home more with our kids, so do you care if I start my own writing business?” And he was like, “Go for it.” 

So, I started Z-Ink Solutions, and then he actually ended up losing his job, so I had to go back to corporate life, and I was actually a pandemic hire for a photochemical etching company, which was really fascinating to me because I never even knew that process existed. 

And the pandemic came. We were all isolated. And I noticed all these conversations happening on LinkedIn around manufacturing and engineering, and the girls that I met through my trade publication days, none of them were part of these conversations, and I’m like, “Wow, they’re really well known in their niche. Why aren’t they taking part in this conversation or that conversation?” So, I would reach out to the host and tell them, “Hey, we have some stuff going on. I know these girls that can add to this conversation. You should reach out to them.” And they were like, “Yeah, we’ll do that.” And they never did. 

So, I was like, “Well, screw it. I’ll just start my own thing.” So, I talked to a friend of mine, and I was like, “Hey, I have this idea running around in my head. I don’t know what I’m doing, though. I’ve never done a podcast. I’ve never really listened to a podcast.” And he’s like, “It’s really simple if you have StreamYard or Restream.” He’s like, “There’s a bunch of tools that you can do.” So, he was like, “Reach out to your LinkedIn audience. See if there’s any interest. If there is, come back to me and I’ll teach you how to do all this stuff.” 

So, I made an announcement on LinkedIn, and I was like, “Hey, I’m looking for women who are in manufacturing and engineering and want to share their story. I’m starting this new podcast called Mavens of Manufacturing. It’s actually gonna be a video broadcast. So, if you’re interested, please reach out to me.” And I had like 30 women reach out to me wanting to share their stories, so I went back to my friend and I’m like, “Okay, now you really gotta help me because I have no idea what I’m doing.” So, he taught me how to start a StreamYard account and how to connect it with YouTube and all that stuff, so I’m terrible at video editing.  That’s not my forte. So, the StreamYard platform really helped me be able to just have a template where I have an intro video, I can hit live, hit the intro video, take that out, do  the conversation, and then everything just gets automatically uploaded to YouTube when the conversation’s done, so there’s very little editing that I do. 

For the podcast portion of it, though, I do have help. I’m actually looking for someone new because the person that I initially hired kind of came into some hard times or whatever, so I need to find someone new to help me edit audio and stuff, because I have no idea what I’m doing there, so I outsource that stuff. But yeah, it was just something I wanted to do for fun, and then it just unexpectedly blew up and it’s been inspiring a lot of women and men, so a lot of men have gotten behind it, and they advocate for it now, which is really, really awesome, because we have the skills gap going on in the sector and we need all hands on deck to start closing that, getting the next generation really excited about engineering and manufacturing. 

So, it’s been a crazy and fun experience. It’s just, I was not expecting a lot of people to come up to me at IMTS and say, “Hey, it’s Meaghan,” and I’m like, “What is going on here?” So, I’m kind of suffering from this imposter syndrome, but I think I’ll get better as the time goes on. So, whoever that girl was that said hi to me, I’m really sorry. Completely caught me off guard. 

Jeff White: So, we have the apology. 

Carman Pirie: Indeed. 

Jeff White: We also, if you do audio editing, reach out to Meaghan. 

Meaghan Ziemba: Yes, please. 

Jeff White: So, we got an ad for you. 

Carman Pirie: I guess I’ll preface the rest of what I’m going to say on this show, because I just never know when I’m going to offend large swaths of people. 

Jeff White: Oh God. Here we go. 

Carman Pirie: Well, no, but look, we live in a very politically charged world, and anytime you’re talking about gender, the roles, equality, or the lack thereof, et cetera, it can… My goodness. I mean, there’s a bunch of people out there that’ll just get fired up, think that you’re trying to shove wokeism down their throat or whatever, and I guess that’s not what I’m about or trying to do, but at the same time it was really striking to me, Meaghan, as you went through that and you’re like, “Yeah, I kept reaching out to these people and said here’s some really smart women that really know their”—I’m gonna say niche rather than niche just to drive you crazy— “but they really know their niche, but they just wouldn’t get return phone calls.” 

And I think that is one of the things in the industrial sector that people need to come to terms with, is that the gendered nature of it is still there. My goodness. 

Jeff White: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: And you see it kind of come out in very kind of-

Jeff White: In different ways. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: I don’t know if I had a question there so much-

Jeff White: As a commentary. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Just a compelling kind of almost like, “Really? Really? They wouldn’t even phone them back?” 

Jeff White: Not gonna lie. Most of the best guests we’ve had on this show have been women. 

Carman Pirie: That’s true. 

Jeff White: Really leading the sector. So, it’s interesting that it’s taken your show to kind of bring some of those voices to life. How did you find those initial interviews and what did you talk about? 

Meaghan Ziemba: So I just, again, initially I just made an announcement and I had around 30 people reach out to me and say, “Yes, I want to share my story.” 

So, after that initial group came to me, I had pre-briefings with them where I would talk to them for like 15 to 30 minutes, get to know their story a little bit better, and I don’t like scripted conversations. I really love natural reactions and authenticity, so a lot of women, a lot of them were kind of scared to do the live recording. They wanted to do pre-recording so that if they messed up something they could edit it out. But I really want to show the human side of the people in this sector because that’s what drives the passion and the inspiration, I believe. 

So, once I kind of talk them off the ledge of doing a pre-recording, they just felt comfortable, and it was a natural conversation. But I’ve talked to women… So, there’s an organization called Women in Manufacturing. I talked to the Founder of that company. I’ve talked to a lot of CEOs, women on the shop floor, welders, CNC machinists… I’ve even talked to students and apprenticeship or apprentices and interns. So I’ve talked to a variety of different ages and career-type roles, and that’s what my intention is. I want to show the next generation that this isn’t a dirty, dark, dangerous, dull place to work in anymore. You still have dull stuff. You still have dangerous stuff. You have dirty and dark stuff. But there’s a lot more happening now with all of the advancements in technology. 

So, you don’t necessarily have to be good at math and science, either, to have a part in this sector. You can be a writer like myself. You can be someone who’s really good at sales and connecting with other people. You can not know anything about engineering and manufacturing and go to a tech school, get an apprenticeship, and learn how to CNC machine and program the machine, and do all of that stuff fairly quickly and not get into a bunch of debt. So, I want to show the broad range of opportunities with engineering and manufacturing. 

I had a woman who’s from an additive manufacturing company. She was talking about a project where they actually printed out a hull of a submarine, like a mini submarine. I’ve talked to an owner of a big crane company. I’m trying to get another woman, she’s made actual steel toe fashion boots and fashion shoes for women who have to walk on shop floors all the time, and she’s like, “Everything that I had to wear was so bulky and not fitting, and it wasn’t fashionable for me.” And she was like, “Why do I have to look like this big, bulky person walking on the shop floor? Why can’t I maintain my femininity?” So, she started a shoe company, and I’m trying to get her on to talk about what inspired her to start the shoe company. 

So, it’s a wide range of different types of roles and personalities because I don’t feel like you have to be a certain type of person to be in engineering and manufacturing. I think you can just be who you are and have a passion for it, and you can find a place within the sector because it’s so broad. 

Carman Pirie: I think that’s just an incredibly important message. I mean, you said earlier about the kind of little foray that you did into postsecondary education, right? You’re like, “I was bored out of my mind, and I needed to come back to industrial.” I just want to kind of… Can we just replay that clip over and over and over again? Because so many people, especially in marketing, communications, et cetera, there would be a tendency to think, “Oh, well, university space would at least be more interesting than,” and it’s like no, actually. 

And I couldn’t agree more with you around the kind of image of industrial/manufacturing being one of kind of dirty, dingy, gritty factory floors, et cetera, and all that’s just not the reality of the day. The reality is that most of that is incredibly high tech. There’s more technology driving industrial manufacturing than there is in most other sectors. And I think the message couldn’t be more important right now that this isn’t just a place for people who want to get their hands dirty in a bunch of grease on the shop floor, because that’s just not reality. 

Jeff White: No, and I think it’s interesting too, this idea of the woman you’re talking about who’s looking to create shoes with more femininity and fashion. In a lot of cases, women just aren’t seeing themselves in manufacturing spaces because they’ve kind of been… They’re so masculine, just everything about them just kind of screams that, and there isn’t really an opportunity to express yourself in the way that you might want to, so it’s interesting to consider how you kind of go down that road. 

Meaghan Ziemba: Well, and there are some women who are really feminine in this sector, and they get called booth bunny, or booth babe, or they’re not smart enough, or they’re just for the look factor, and that’s not the case either. It’s okay to just be who you are as a person and have the brains to do hands-on stuff. I know a ton of women in automation right now. They didn’t know about each other because they were spread out and LinkedIn really helped with… One individual, her name is Alicia Gilpin. She’s a PLC systems integrator. I think I said that right. Alicia, if I didn’t, I’m sorry. But she documents her journey going to different places and helping them fix whatever automation problem that they’re having, and she’s like… She decided that she wanted to start this group because she knew other women in the field having issues going on, and how do I troubleshoot this, what tool is best for this application? 

So, she put this group together and everyone in the group is so thankful for her, because they were like, “We don’t have women in this area, a lot of women to talk about this stuff, and if we talk to a guy it’s kind of like this condescending tone or whatever, and we know what we’re doing. We know what we’re talking about.” So, she built this group and it’s just cool to see their conversations and their interactions because they’re building each other up, and you can see their confidence increase, so they’re totally fine going into an environment being the only girl and saying, “No, I know what I’m doing. This is how we fix this problem. Let me show you how to do it.” 

So, it’s really building a great tribe of leaders in engineering and manufacturing that we desperately need right now because we have so many roles that are going to be vacant over the next five to 10 years. We really need to start closing that and bringing women who are just coming in and allowing them to grow and climb up the ladder. I think that’s gonna help a lot, as well, too. 

So, I’m not trying to push men out of the sector. Not at all by any means. A lot of my mentors who’ve helped me grow within this sector have been men and I’m so appreciative of them and we still need the men in the sector to be in the sector. We need them to mentor other people in the next generation, and we still need their knowledge, and we still need their hands-on experience. We still need them. And we need other men to come join, as well, too. 

So I’m not trying to push guys out of the sector because that wouldn’t help us at all. That would just make the problem worse. I’m trying to bring everybody together. But at the same time, I’m trying to empower women, as well, too, because I’ve talked to girl students in high school, and they said what you said. “I don’t see myself in the sector because everywhere I look there’s guys, and in my classes I’m one of four girls out of 35 students for this vo[cational] tech program.” So, the girls are kind of feeling isolated and left out. 

Carman Pirie: And those ones that find a way to, I guess, in some ways have the courage to be the person that has to stand up for themselves in that room… it’s wonderful that they exist and it’s terrible that we depend on them. You know, it’s terrible that that’s what it takes in some way. And it’s interesting, Meaghan, I hear what you’re saying about the skills gap and worker shortage, et cetera, and that couldn’t be more true, but you know, and I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but it just seems to me that the other side of this is it isn’t just because we need more people in manufacturing and now we ought to let the women play. 

It’s like how about just the fact that it will make what we do richer and better when we’re no longer just one gender playing this game? That’s what it seems like to me is the real missing piece. And it’s interesting. When we’ve interviewed… I think of the many women we’ve interviewed on this podcast. A few stand out of some of the conversations that we’ve had when we weren’t pressing record about… I guess they talk about there’s a lot of image about manufacturing, particularly in the U.S., about it being very male dominated. It’s very patriotic. It’s very… Like that notion of build America, and-

Jeff White: Patriotic and patriarchal. 

Carman Pirie: Well, yeah, and you know, it had a number of leading women in manufacturing push back on that and say it just isn’t reality. We will not be reflooding factory floors with droves and droves of factory men coming to work like the 1950s. We’re heading into a different place. It’s always been to me it’s been the women that we’ve interviewed on the podcast that see manufacturing in a bigger ecosystem and they understand where it’s going. They understand it will be more diverse. They understand it will be more global and what that all really means. And it seems to me the ones that have tried to treat it like the way it’s always been has always been the dudes. 

[Laughs] I don’t know. I’m beating up on guys a little bit, but I feel like as a white guy I can beat up on them a bit. 

Jeff White: Yeah. As a middle-aged white guy with a podcast, you mean? 

Carman Pirie: A middle-aged white guy on a podcast. I should be run over on the street, probably. 

Jeff White: One of the things that you were talking about there, Meaghan, was around getting younger women and girls interested in the space. What do you think maybe needs to be done kind of in the education system, whether it’s down into secondary school, and maybe even younger, to get people interested in this space? Because it’s not necessarily presented as a career option to anyone, but especially to girls. 

Meaghan Ziemba: It’s really not. And I think more and more people are starting to realize that we made a huge mistake putting vo tech programs on the back burner. They’re always offered as an elective in most school communities, or they’re completely just diminished because they want to allocate their budget towards something else. Some schools are really very sports focused, so a lot of the athletes get the attention that they need because they’re trying to make these professional athletes from some of their kids, which is… You know, to each their own, but for example, not every Black guy in high school wants to be a basketball player. That’s one stereotype that I want to crunch right now. 

And I say this because I met a gentleman at IMTS, I actually met him before IMTS, but he’s in the Air Force. He’s doing some great work with Inconel and additive manufacturing. And I was introduced to him by Andrew Crow, who I do a lot of collaboration with, and Andrew’s really on this mission to diversify the sector not just with women, but with Black and Brown individuals, as well, and kids who come from lower-income communities that don’t necessarily have access or resources to some of these advanced technologies or advanced education because of the communities that they’re in. 

I didn’t know, like I rarely see in my area any Black engineers or Brown engineers. I rarely see them. And it’s just because of the community that I’m in. There’s a lot of great organizations. I did interview one woman, she started Get Girls Going. It’s a Black nonprofit organization that helps Black women develop entrepreneur skills and leadership skills. And then I also interviewed another woman in Texas. She started a group called Black Girls Do Engineer, and she said, she’s like, “I never felt comfortable because I was the only woman most of the time, and I was the only Black woman most of the time,” and she’s like, “My main mentor was an old white guy. He saw the potential that I had and was like, ‘You do things a little bit differently.’” 

So, we definitely need to rethink how we’re presenting vo tech opportunities. It’s not for the kids who aren’t as intelligent as the kids that go to high school, or to universities. It’s not just for “the dumb kids.” That we need to get out of everybody’s thought process. 

We need to stop having them as an elective because it’s not just the hands-on experience that’s important, but it’s also the soft skills that come with them that are important. So, when kids are in these types of programs, they’re learning how to make things with their hands, yes, but they’re learning how to work together. They’re learning how to communicate. They’re learning how to problem solve. They’re learning how to critically think how to put something together as a whole, so there’s that spatial and visual component as well to it. There’s just so many different types of soft skills involved with making something with your hand, and designing it, putting it together, because designing and manufacturing are two separate things, and just because you design something doesn’t necessarily mean you can manufacture it. 

So, there’s a lot of different skills involved with it, and I think we need to start exposing kids at a younger age, starting at the elementary level. 

An article came out, I believe it was from Ohio, where they were teaching kindergartners how to CNC machine using color. So, whatever they were doing on the machine, they were having it color-coded so that as they were teaching the kids how to color, they were picking out the colors, but it happened to be on this small CNC machine so that the kids could start learning what CNC machining was. 

There’s several organizations that are creating activity books, so like one is in Pennsylvania, they create this activity book to kind of like show the different career opportunities, not just within manufacturing and engineering, but like a police officer, a bank clerk… so they have one page where it’s about supply chain, and then they have another page that the kids can start coloring. 

So, it’s not necessarily explaining every little detail to a five-year-old, but it’s showing them images, letting them figure it out with their sight and their hands, and then kind of guiding them along the rest of their school career. So, you don’t have to explain it detail by detail when they’re five. Just show them it. Have them mess around with it. Have them… Because I have a three and a four-year-old. My three-year-old is obsessed with throwing things on the ground and everybody’s like, “Well, what the hell is he doing?” He wants to break it open because he wants to see what’s inside. 

So, he’ll throw something on the ground, it will break, and then he’ll try to put it together. So, just allowing them to be curious and experiment I think is really important, and just supporting that as they grow up. One of the issues that little girls are having is by the time they hit sixth or seventh grade, they start to pull back with their confidence. And if they don’t have affirmation from a mentor or their friend group, they’re not gonna pursue what they really like. They’re gonna kind of get inside themselves, I guess you could say. And this has been proven time and time again. 

So, how can we keep their confidence up when they hit that vital age and keep them going? How can we keep them playing with things that involve engineering, design, and manufacturing? How do we change that whole thing? And I really believe that community leaders need to reconnect with their educational institutions that exist within their community and come up with a plan. 

And some communities are doing that right now. Like where I grew up, they actually switched their curriculum to academic-focused, so they have different academies in their high school. So if you’re interested in health science, they have an academy for that. If you’re interested in engineering and manufacturing, they have an academy for that. And they focus their coursework on the academy that they’re in. 

So, I think we need to start seeing more of that and just start training them a little bit younger and then supporting that training as they get through high school, and then supporting them even after high school, because a lot of kids just don’t know any of this stuff exists. I talked to four students at IMTS because I got a bus sponsored from the high school I graduated from, and I talked to four kids from the high school and they were like, “We had no idea any of this was even available to us. We had no idea that this existed.” So how are they gonna pursue a career if they don’t even know it exists? 

So we gotta start doing a better job by exposing them and bringing awareness to these different types of opportunities, and then figuring out okay, how do we mentor them? How do we get them comfortable so that when they are done with high school they can do interviews, they can communicate with people, they know how to ask questions, they know how to pick which job they want to do. How do we give them those skills, as well, too, because sometimes we just throw them to the wolves and say, “Good luck.” 

Jeff White: Good luck! 

Meaghan Ziemba: Have at it, have at it. And that’s not the best for a lot of people. That’s what happened to me, and I almost screwed up my life. My mom and my dad were like, “Just go to college. You’ll be fine.” 

Carman Pirie: I’m curious because you detailed a number of in some ways pretty positive kind of things that are indicating that we’re heading in the right direction, albeit maybe more slowly than anyone would like. I guess you’ve been a technical writer in this space for an awfully long time, a female technical writer in a male-dominated world, and so I’m curious. Have you personally experienced some significant change along the way? Do you feel like we’re getting better? Are you more hopeful for where we’re going now? Or are you like, “Eh, I’m still not so sure.” 

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah, I mean, I think as long as we keep having conversations around it and not ignoring the negativity that happens… So, when I first started out, the very first trade show that I went to, my boss was like, “Okay, I need you to maintain your professionalism when you get on the trade show floor.” And I was like, “What the heck are you talking about?” And when I walked in, I think I was one of five women total during that time, so this was back in 2008. And the stares, the comments, everything that happened to me made me feel really gross. And I was just like, “Oh, this is what he was talking about. Okay.” 

I don’t see that as much anymore at some of the trade shows that I go to. I feel like there is a respect now and women aren’t just gawked at anymore. Sure, there’s still some companies who put women in their booth for a purpose. Hopefully that will start to lessen as the years go. 

But I’m actually really, really excited because I see a lot of women who are purchasing companies and actually being the business owner of companies, and they never thought they would ever be in this sector, and then it was either like a family member, or a friend, or something that got them into the sector and they fell in love with it, and they were like, “I’m just gonna buy the company and run it myself.” 

So, I’m starting to see more and more women take on those leadership roles, which is really refreshing, but I’m also seeing more and more women saying, “I can weld that. I want to learn how to weld. I want to do CNC machining. I want to do PLC programming. I want to be a data engineer.” So, I definitely see confidence building up and more women trying different things that they would never have tried before. I’ve talked to at least three women who started out in interior design and then they were pulled in for some type of marketing role, they fell in love with the company so much that they decided, “Well, I’m gonna learn this so I can do this job better.” And then they ended up buying the company. 

I also talked to a psychology teacher. She got so bored with psychology, and she knew that there was this gap and she’s like, “I saw a connection between people working with their hands and how they feel about themselves.” She’s like, “So, I started learning about welding.” She got certified as a welder and now she uses her psychology skills with her welding students so that it’s kind of like a therapy for them, which is really freaking cool. And she’s like, “Yeah, I just got bored being a psychology teacher, so I decided to do welding.” Okay, cool. 

Jeff White: This isn’t the path you normally hear about. Yeah. 

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: No, but I think it’s an important message for people to hear, and I hope that it can carry forward, and it just… I think you’re doing some very important work here, Meaghan. 

Jeff White: Yeah. And I’d love to catch up with you again maybe in 12 months and see where you’re at. 

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah. Absolutely. I’m looking forward to just continuing to grow Mavens. There’s a show in March. A lot of women are entering the construction area, which I think is fantastic, because I just… Every time I’m driving on the road and I see construction happening, I’m just fascinated how they’re able to recreate a route to create that constant flow of traffic, especially in busy areas, and then the stuff that they’re doing with bridges, and just it’s fascinating to me that all this stuff is happening and life still goes on, and these people are on the side of the road. More and more women are getting involved in that, so I’m trying to go to CONEXPO next year in Vegas because I really want to see if there’s still a gender disparity there, and I want to talk to women who are in that industry and see if maybe there’s something I can do there to get the next generation excited about construction, too. 

Because we’re always gonna need it. Things are always falling apart. We need to maintain it. So, I’m hoping to get more involved with that area and I’m really excited to talk to women, because I just think that area is fascinating and women who do it are pretty cool. 

Carman Pirie: We look forward to watching this unfold. I think it’s gonna be very fascinating. 

Jeff White: Yeah. Thanks so much for joining us today, Meaghan. 

Meaghan Ziemba: Yeah. Thanks for having me. This was fun. 

Jeff White: Very cool. Cheers. 

Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring, with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Don’t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at That’s

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Meaghan Ziemba

Host, Mavens of Manufacturing

Meaghan Ziemba is a brand storyteller and marketer for manufacturers with a B.A. and M.A. in Professional and Technical Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has been writing for manufacturing since 2008 and hosts a live video broadcast series called Mavens of Manufacturing. The series focuses on women in the sector and its mission is to attract younger generations to join manufacturing or engineering career pathways to help close the skills and gender gaps. Meaghan is a proud wife of a law enforcement officer and a mother of three. She enjoys cooking, CrossFit, and a great cup of coffee or a glass of whiskey.

The Kula Ring is a podcast for manufacturing marketers who care about evolving their strategy to gain a competitive edge.

Listen to conversations with North America’s top manufacturing marketing executives and get actionable advice for success in a rapidly transforming industry.

About Kula

Kula Partners is an agency that specializes in maximizing revenue potential for B2B manufacturers.

Our clients sell within complex, technical environments and we help them take a more targeted, account-focused approach to drive revenue growth within niche markets.


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