Re.engineer Magazine - Summer 2021

T R E N D I N G L E A D E R S

before this term was mainstream. He appreciated that I had brown skin, hair with gold highlights, very outspoken and was comfortable in my own skin. And he recognized that I could be a valuable contributor to the Dow team. The other book end is the last 5 years of my career and working on a once in a lifetime project. I met so many employees and their families as part of my HR role to support their relocation to Saudi Arabia. I learned so much about different cultures. I still recall my first business trip to Saudi in 2011, where I was one of the first women to walk the sand dunes (camels in the background) of this now giant chemical complex. You attended the historic Prairie View A&M University during a time when the percentage of Engineering degrees earned by African American women were on the rise. Q: What did you gain the most from your experience by attending a HBCU? Denise: Attending PVAMU was one of the absolute best decisions I made in my life. The campus culture was family- oriented and supportive. I had a strong connection with my professors, who genuinely cared about my success. They poured so much into my education. In addition to the great education I received, I gained life-long friends, sorority sisters who still today will support me and are my biggest cheerleaders. Q: Which qualities and strengths helped you to excel in manufacturing the most? First, you should know that I am the oldest of three children and my parents expected me to “do the right thing” and to be the example for my younger siblings. So, the bar was set high for me to always give

100% effort and to treat people the way I wanted to be treated. These qualities are timeless and transferable. I’m very organized and know that “the devil is always in the details”, so when leading projects, I was very good at asking a lot of questions, seeking out subject matter experts and not assuming I had all of the answers. I believe this strength made me a better team leader and/or member. Still today in retirement, I use my project management skills when planning trips, outings, etc. I’m a checklist kind of girl. Also, I was very responsive when someone would call me or send an email. Even when I didn’t have an immediate response to their request, I would at least acknowledge their call or email and would let them know when I would have an answer. I wanted to build a reputation of being dependable. Q: What was the most difficult decision you've had to make in your career? Honestly, it was to change the direction of my manufacturing career and to accept a role in Human Resources. At the beginning, on some days I felt like “a fish out of water”. But this move led to me becoming a Six Sigma Certified Black Belt, working on exciting mergers and acquisitions, leading workforce planning for manufacturing and ultimately working on an exciting joint venture project that became my swan song. I’m so grateful I stepped out of my comfort zone! Q: I am curious to know, if you could go back in time, what is one thing that you would change about STEM or the manufacturing culture? Wow, this is a very thought- provoking question!

I ' M SO GR A TEFUL I STEPPED OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE !

I’m not sure if it is the same today,

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