Thompson was happy to shoulder the responsibility. “It is an interesting, varied job, and the best part is that I am able to offer my team support and help improve their working environment through close collaboration and further developing our best practices.”
Women supervisors are increasingly coming into management positions as qualified and experienced women are pursuing professional careers. In fact, two of Thompson’s team leaders are women: Amanda Smith is a mechanical engineer, and Stacy Bridges is a chemical engineer.
Thompson sees the collaboration of men and women in the workplace as a real opportunity of blending together differing perspectives that are consistent with the company’s goals of providing a safe, productive and efficient operation. “Having a variety of perspectives is ideally about enhancing productivity dynamics.”
Asked, where the differences lay, Thompson answers quite openly that in her experience, men and women all have common goals in mind; however, they may take different directions in achieving those goals. This cooperative process sparks creativity and open dialog amongst the employees, which often times results in finding attractive solutions that may not have been otherwise readily apparent.
When she took over the department, she had a meeting with each of the employees concerning where they viewed their strengths, and what sort of support they thought could be of value. And because she knows that a new manager could come across as intimidating, she presented herself not only as a supervisor, but also as a person with little weaknesses – for chocolate nut candy bars, for example. Even now, she occasionally finds a candy bar on her desk – which proves that her cooperative style of management is appreciated.
There have been many other changes in Calvert City, too. “Tasks are allocated more clearly,” says team leader Bridges. Thompson not only has good people skills, but can also manage organizational structures well: she reorganized the department to align its processes and procedures with those of the WACKER Group, which took over the former Air Products plant in 2008. Thompson learned to analyze processes in her previous job as productivity manager.
She has been working in Calvert City for the past seven years, a small town with 3,000 residents. Surrounded by rivers and lakes, nature there offers ideal conditions for hiking and fishing. The nearest city, Nashville in Tennessee, is nearly 200 kilometers away.
Thompson, who grew up in rural Kentucky, lives with her husband and two children in the small village of Fancy Farm. Every day she gets into her red Chevy Impala and commutes a total of 130 kilometers – not uncommon in rural America. “In Burghausen you can get nearly everywhere on foot,” she says referring to a visit to Germany. “We couldn’t manage here without a car.” But at least there aren't any traffic jams.