Elizabeth Adefioye, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, is featured in the Women Worth Watching issue of the Profiles in Diversity Journal.
The journal, published on August 30, features self-written essays by 126 women in executive roles at a diverse array of companies, including Archer Daniels Midland, Cisco Systems, Ernst & Young, GlaxoSmithKline, LinkedIn, Mattel, and Disney.
The Profiles in Diversity Journal promotes and advances diversity and inclusion in the corporate, government, nonprofit, higher education, and military sectors.
To read the full article, please click on the following link - https://issuu.com/diversityjournal/docs/www-cover-summer_18-issuu/38
Gretchen is leading the charge and showing how women can succeed in manufacturing roles at Ingredion. Gretchen joined Ingredion in 2006 and two years later became the first female plant manager in the company’s Kansas City, Missouri location. Ingredion is a Fortune 500 company that manufactures global ingredient solutions for customers around the world. Gretchen is responsible for the daily operations of the plant as well as developing processes that maximize safety, quality and productivity. She brings more than 20 years of food industry experience to her current role. Gretchen holds a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Indiana University and an MBA from Baker College in Michigan.
Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?
I started my journey in manufacturing with a summer job in the auto industry. I always liked the competitive nature of sports and working in a fast-paced manufacturing environment seemed like a natural progression. As a student at Indiana University, I enjoyed science and as well as the opportunity to be exposed to people different than myself with unique and diverse backgrounds . After college, I was exposed to the food industry and I became inspired by all the work and attention to detail that goes into feeding millions of people every day in the U.S. Manufacturing is very much like playing a sport, it is competitive, you have to work as a team if you want to win. On a parallel path, the manufacturing industry uses many metrics to keep track of safety, quality, production and your overall progress. I’ve always liked an environment where you’re keeping score of your progress. When I became the first female plant manager for Ingredion in Kansas City, I knew I would have to draw upon my background and experiences to leave my mark in the world. My family was very supportive of my career and instilled in me a strong work ethic. I am proud of the role I play in the food industry and supporting the economy with a job in manufacturing.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Manufacturing has seen many changes over the years from advances in technology to the increased attention it receives by supporting the global economy. I’m honored to play a role in one important area, which is the need for more women in manufacturing jobs, especially at the leadership level. Becoming the first ever female plant manager in Kansas City was a significant milestone both for me and the company, which I took very seriously. Coming into this position created a unique challenge, which I took as an opportunity to focus on learning. I certainly wanted to have the trust and respect of the plant, so I worked hard to deliver positive results, and draw on my past experiences to prove myself. Being a woman in manufacturing definitely sets me apart. Today, I continue to push to differentiate myself and lead my team. It’s a great conversation starter to tell someone that you turned corn into 10 million lbs. of starch in one week alone.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
I’m lucky to have had many mentors and advocates throughout my career. I have learned something from everyone I worked for or with from new ways of approaching solutions for challenges, to ways I can further develop myself, as well as how to take on stretch roles.
I’ve reported up through several people within Ingredion that believed in me even more than I believed in myself from my direct boss to several vice presidents of Quality, Safety and Manufacturing.
How are you going to shake things up next?
My biggest test is my current position. It came fast. Much faster than planned and I had to adjust quickly. Looking back, I was afraid but just went for it. I have been good at this all my life and it has paid off. I will continue to live by this motto and raise the bar for Ingredion, my employees and our customers. I’m excited about the future and continuing to develop myself and the future generation of leaders for the company. I can wait to show you what’s next.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
1. Attitude and actions are more important than words. Show respect to everyone you come in contact with… Everyone! This applies to the crew cleaning your office, the security guard, etc. You can make someone’s day by showing a little effort and your actions do make a difference.
2. Being the calm in the middle of the storm. How you handle pressure and what you do in the heat of the moment is essential. In a manufacturing environment things happen. You have to be able to stay calm and quickly mobilize your team to discuss the situation. It’s important to get all the information you can before making a decision on what to do next. Involve your team to help you reach the best decision.
3. Foster collaboration to build a high-performing team.
Ingredion has again been named to Fortune’s annual list of “World's Most Admired Companies.” The Company ranks fourth in the food production category.
This is the tenth consecutive year that Ingredion has appeared on the prestigious list, an acknowledgement that the company continues to uphold its long-standing reputation as a quality supplier, employer of choice and good neighbor.
Ingredion is a part of nearly 230 companies from 10 sectors to join the 2019 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI). The Index highlights companies that have made strong commitments to gender equality through self-reported internal company statistics, employee policies, external community support and engagement, and gender-conscious product and service offerings.
Ingredion Incorporated (NYSE:INGR) is a leading global ingredient solutions provider to the food, beverage, brewing and pharmaceutical industries as well as numerous industrial sectors. We are committed to supplying our customers with quality, innovative ingredient solutions that are on trend and in demand. With a strong balance sheet and a history of impressive earnings growth, we are a forward-focused company with over 100 years of success
Ingredion supplies products to nearly 60 industry sectors and operates in more than 40 countries. You’ll find our products on grocery shelves the world over in numerous foods and beverages where they add sweetness, texture and other benefits such as satiety and the delivery of important nutrients. You’ll also find Ingredion’s products in paper products, personal care items, pharmaceuticals and even electronics.
We operate four regional businesses, supported by central functions including a Global Innovation Group. Our geographic footprint gives us both the capability to deliver solutions on a global scale and the agility to meet the needs of local markets. We are 11,000 people working to continually build on more than 100 years of commercial, technical and financial achievement.
In short, at Ingredion, you are part of a globally connected team that is inspired to achieve great things.
For more information, visit ingredion.com. – less