Mia is currently the Corporate Vice President-Service Manager, Board Member and minority owner of Uzelac Industries. She has worked at Uzelac Industries full-time for the past 3 years while handling the company’s marketing in her previous roles over the past 8 years. She has a strong background in Marketing, Advertising and Project Management. Most recently, she worked as a Project Manager at a Marketing and Creative Firm in Chicago for 4 years. As the Service Manager, Milena focuses on building up and organizing the service department to ensure all service projects flow seamlessly to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.
Since it's been in your family, you've known this industry. Not only at [Uzelac Industries], but you've known this industry for throughout your whole life. Do you think that gives you a different perspective on what it's like to be a woman in manufacturing, given that you've seen it your whole life? And what is your experience as a woman in manufacturing?
So, my experience overall has been good. I would say there's plenty of meetings that I'm in, or places that I'm at, where I'm the only woman in the room. So, that's just definitely something to get used to. That's not the case in marketing. That is not something I didn't know going in, but you seems more apparent when you're there. But overall, going into like certain trade shows, things like that. I know that I've been told, “Oh, there's many more women here than there used to be,” which is nice. But there are some people that you can tell are surprised that I'm there at the manufacturing booth, and I'm not just the marketing girl and I need to talk through some things with them. I think that's just as long as you speak with confidence, like you're supposed to be there. I don't think that there's any hesitancy or issue with other people. I don't think anyone ever means anything by acting surprised to see. But that's just the reality of this situation. A long time ago, there were not a lot of women. I think, from what I've heard, there is a lot more now. And it's not just people's wives coming to conferences with them attending the conference and working there.
As you think about coming into your professional career, what are some of the challenges that you've faced? And if you have some advice to anybody who's taking that next step professionally? It doesn't have to be manufacturing specific.
Some of the challenges I faced, specifically coming out of college, it was a very saturated job market. When I was applying for jobs, it was very difficult to find a job in my field. So, I actually went into radio sales in Chicago. But that was my first job. I did radio sales and digital sales. And that actually was very helpful further along in my career. First of all, I do have a lot of respect for anybody that's in sales, it is not easy to do. So, it was definitely good to learn. Yes, but in my next job after that, when I was at the creative agency, we actually bought a lot of digital marketing. So, it was nice for me to be able to understand it. That's actually part of the reason they even hired me at that job as a project manager. So, I did move into my field after that, but I didn't find a job in my field right away. So, I would say don't be discouraged. It's really good to learn different things, and I would just look at it as a positive and what can you learn out of this situation instead of being discouraged. I wanted a job in marketing as a project manager, and I'm not going to accept any jobs otherwise. I think sometimes it's nice to really get your feet wet and learn some other things. And then I think, at the end of the day, even at this job, I still do the marketing as well. And we still have a digital marketing agency that I work with; we have monthly meetings go through things. It's nice to be able to understand it. So, even in my job today, my very first job that I didn't really feel had much to do with what I wanted to be doing is still applicable to me.