Women in the industry discuss challenges, opportunities.
Vertical Initiative for Elevator Escalator Women (VIEEW) President Martha Hulgan summed up the theme of one of the best-attended annual meetings yet by paraphrasing Albert Einstein: “You have to learn the rules of the game, and then you have to play better than anyone else,” she said. Taking place in a large conference room in Villa Barone Manor prior to the Elevator Conference of New York Supplier Showcase on April 11, the meeting featured frank discussion about where elevator-industry women have been, where they are now and where they want to go. Attendees spoke about their backgrounds, challenges encountered and how those challenges were overcome.
Much praise was given to programs like Otis FORWARD (ELEVATOR WORLD, April 2018) and mentors such as Grace Greco, Jackie Mortman and Otis President Judy Marks. Mary Beeson of Otis subsidiary UNITEC Parts Co. said she is “super stoked” about a woman being named president — a first for a United Technologies Corp. subsidiary. “Judy Marks came from Siemens [as CEO], and she’s amazing,” Beeson said, elaborating:
“She came to speak to us at the Otis Service Center and has really got her act together. She’s very encouraging. There was a guy at the microwave, and she stopped and said, ‘Who are you? What do you do at Otis?’ She’s the kind of person you are just drawn to, and I want to be that person. I think we can all be that person if we think about how we interact with others. There is a lot of opportunity for women, and the way [Marks] worked her way up [from systems engineer at IBM Federal Systems Co. to management positions of increasing responsibility] proves that.”
Beeson has been with Otis 31 years and is among those who remember when the number of women at a conference of some 400 could be counted on one hand. “That, in itself, was kind of challenging,” she said, observing that hard work, confidence and a willingness to ask questions result in success. She asked fellow VIEEW members to think about how they can mentor younger women just starting out.
A highlight of the meeting was when each woman told the others a little about herself. It was a diverse group that included everyone from a fresh college graduate (Stephanie Milefchik, who recently joined her father’s company, ECS Corp., in the accounting department) to many with decades of experience. Roles ran the gamut, from entrepreneurs to human-resources professionals to sales and logistics specialists. There was a strong New York/New Jersey presence, but women also came from the Deep South, the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
In addition to the fascinating personal stories, members discussed how to:
- Encourage more women to enter the trade, especially the field, considering a skilled labor shortage
- Create mechanisms that help change the fundamental composition of the industry
- Get the word out about technical jobs in the field that don’t require physical strength
- Put more women in upper-management roles
- Spread awareness about what is often a “hidden industry”
The next VIEEW meeting is planned at the National Association of Elevator Contractors Annual Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in September.
Views for the VIEEW: Thank You, thyssenkrupp
Part of what made this VIEEW meeting one to remember was a reception hosted by thyssenkrupp in its 84th-floor offices in One World Trade Center (1WTC) on April 10, after which the ladies visited One World Observatory, many for the first time. thyssenkrupp’s corporate offices high above Manhattan feature stunning city views, and the company arranged a lovely Italian spread that included fine cured meats and cheeses, which were enjoyed as guests chatted and took in the views, including through a telescope.
VIEEW members then embarked an amazing “trip through time” up to the 1WTC observatory in the fastest elevator in the Western Hemisphere, which boasts high-tech media walls that take passengers from the prehistoric era until now (EW, January 2016).
The high-tech media experience continued upon exiting the elevator, with the “curtain” over the observatory serving as a movie screen illustrating the history of NYC construction. After the short movie, the curtains rose for the big reveal, panoramic views stretching for miles in every direction.
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