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How Women Are Lifting Themselves Up in Heavy Industries

Sponsored By:
Lu Athnos | Photos courtesy of ABB
Sponsored By:
Lu Athnos | Photos courtesy of ABB

Women make up only around a fifth of workers in some key industries, and this number can be halved when it comes to certain technology roles or boardroom positions. But efforts are being made by global organizations to change this and bring diversity to the top of the business agenda. 

“Must do better” is the outdated phrase often written on school report cards, and a constant message when it comes to women in the workplace. However, like in modern teaching, there are more targeted, personal ways of encouraging change. 

The 4,500 people working across ABB’s Process Industries Division take their responsibilities of empowering women in the industry seriously because they live it every day. For example, women make up only 22% of the global mining workforce, according to World Economic Forum findings. 

In response, ABB launched its Unstoppable campaign, featuring women leaders from mining, pulp and paper, and steelmaking customers. These leaders, and more like them, are inspiring and breaking down barriers for future generations to pursue careers in STEM fields. 

Livia Soares

VP and Global Head of Sales for Mining and Process Industries, ABB

“My daughter says she wants to ‘do mining,’ like mum. It’s all about creating role models that lead the way,” said Livia Soares, VP and global head of sales for Mining and Process Industries, ABB. “I wanted to be an engineer before I was even sure what it was. My father was a construction engineer and on weekends he’d take me with him to check on a site — I found it exciting.” 

Livia Soares

Colleagues at ABB are often globally mobile, moving to where opportunities exist. Having grown up, studied, and worked in her native Brazil, Soares has gone on to make an impact in the world’s largest copper producing country, Chile, and in North America, with several promotions along the way. 

Engineering for all 

Lu Athnos

Regional Sales Manager for the U.S. East Coast, ABB

Lu Athnos has built a successful 28-year career in the pulp and paper industry after graduating from her university in China with dual degrees, in electrical engineering and English. The regional sales manager for the U.S. East Coast, ABB, said: “I always strive for self-improvement. There are always opportunities to learn and grow.” 

Athnos’ roles have spanned process control, systems engineering, quality control systems, training, and management, while also gaining further qualifications in business and wood and paper science technology. 

“My focus is on providing my team with unwavering support, creating an environment where they can thrive,” she said. “I actively seek to learn from their wealth of experience too.” 

Lu Athnos

While there are many technical and people challenges in Athnos’ role, she believes in what she does. 

“At every mill I go to, I see that they struggle to gain and retain talent. Bridging skills gaps requires numerous solutions and a diverse group of people,” she said, concluding: “I think a big part of being Unstoppable is loving what I do.” 

Diversity and digital 

Hee Yon Lee

Regional General Manager — Americas, Digital Business Line, ABB

Blending people well equipped for modern industries with digital technologies is a challenge being embraced by ABB’s regional general manager – Americas, Digital Business Line, Hee Yon Lee. 

“Having the right people makes us Unstoppable,” she said. “ABB has smart, curious, and courageous people who embrace how digitalization can transform how we work and positively impact our customers. All this is possible because we believe that everyone’s voice matters, and our success is collective. I value how we work as much as what we deliver. 

“I believe that a diverse team creates a broader range of ideas that better aligns to our customers globally. I want to create a place where people feel that their ideas are valued, and their aspirations are supported. Representation matters. It’s important to see diversity at all levels of the organization because it demonstrates the possibilities.” 

Click here to learn more about ABB’s Unstoppable campaign

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