Women in Industry: Kelly Kamlager of RIOS Intelligent Machines

By Lindsey Quick

A Passion for Learning

A constantly evolving industry with endless opportunities for growth has kept Kelly Kamlager of RIOS Intelligent Machines coming back for more.

As someone who is naturally curious about how things work, Kelly Kamlager’s career in industrial marketing isn’t that surprising. Kamlager got her start in fall protection and then steel manufacturing for material handling structures. Twenty years later, she’s confident in her place. “I didn’t envision getting into this space,” Kamlager said. “Yet after – gasp! – 20 years, it is a satisfying home.”

Today Kamlager is the senior director of marketing at RIOS Intelligent Machines, a leader of full-stack AI-powered robotic workcells for automation. “Our solutions help factories transform labor-intensive operations into smart factories of the future, powered by AI and robotics,” Kamlager said. The work happening at RIOS generates a lot of excitement in Kamlager. “It’s thrilling to be in one of the fastest growing segments of the industry creating dramatic shifts for customers to accelerate their businesses,” she said.

As senior director of marketing, Kamlager connects knowledge and insight to accelerate growth for the company and customers alike. “I’m passionate about this industry and the environments in which customers operate,” Kamlager said. She believes automation is the path forward, and RIOS is an organization positioned to help other organizations capitalize on this technology.

“Automation and Robots-as-a-Service, or RaaS, help organizations scale quickly and rapidly gain the benefits of AI-powered robotics to meet throughput and operational goals for organizations of all sizes,” Kamlager said.

Part of the excitement for Kamlager is having a bird’s eye view into how the work gets done. “I find it so energizing to walk a shop floor and see the process in action,” she said. After going through the COVID pandemic, Kamlager said it’s more apparent than ever how important this industry is. “Manufacturers and supply chain operators are a key pillar of the economy,” Kamlager said. “We all learned through the pandemic how next-day shipping was not simply a luxury, but an integral part of transporting goods.” Kamlager stressed how important relationships are in this industry as well. “Relationships transcend time,” she said. “MHEDA is a great example of how a group can intentionally gather for the better acceleration of an entire industry.”

Throughout her career, relationships have made a difference for Kamlager, especially in the form of mentors. “I’ve had several meaningful mentors who have organically developed throughout my career,” she said. While her mentors have provided feedback and have been influential, what makes them exceptional is how they have provided insight on how Kamlager can discover her path on her own. “The genuine interest, positive affirmations and sound feedback are well-timed and much appreciated as my career continues,” she added.

While Kamlager has had many female mentors throughout her career, she says that men have played a valuable role as well. What she’s most valued from all of her mentors was that each shared a common piece of advice about the importance of seeing life as a whole. “I have several key champions and supporters, both men and women, who continue to provide sound career support,” said Kamlager. “That support is more than simply helping me build just a better job – it leans into how the career supports a greater life overall, and that my career is simply a portion of that life.”

For women coming into the industry, Kamlager encourages them to do what they can to fast-track their personal knowledge. “Find a base of knowledgeable, experienced individuals who you can lean into and ask a million questions,” she said. By expanding their understanding, those who are new to the industry will also increase their ability to introduce innovative thinking in their conversations. Kamlager also recommends aiming high without fear of failure. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” she said. “And most importantly: simply don’t give up.”