Women in Industry – Stacy Bashtanyk

TITLE: VP of Operations
COMPANY: Cosme Inc.
LOCATION: Lasalle, Quebec (Canada)

I oversee the day-to-day operations of the company such as plan, direct and monitor production activities. My job is to ensure that we continue to develop and implement cost-effective processes to meet both current and future needs of our organization. Setting goals enables us to achieve our targets and keep our company on track.

I start my day with a morning walk-in through the plant to assure everything is running smoothly. I get the status of production from the previous night’s evening shift, then onto daily meetings with plant supervisor and the quality control manager to go over our workload or issue and make sure we are on target with our production goals for the day ahead. It is really important to stay on top of things so we go over everything from materials, machines to personnel. As the VP of Operations I wear many hats – we need to coordinate with sales, engineering and financing all while keeping a close eye on operations.

In an industry that is still pretty male-dominated, my advice for women who are considering a career in material handling is to seize the opportunity! Although this is a predominant male industry, I feel that I have been welcomed into the industry because I made sure that my knowledge and abilities define who I am and not let the fact that I am a woman in a man’s world define me. Is it hard? YES! Do you need to be tough and strong? ABSOLUTELY! However, I feel that women often bring a different view when faced with challenges and tend to see things from a different perspective that in the end it brings balance to the table.

My advice – be yourself, stay focused, do not second guess yourself and be sure that you are judged based on your performance and ability.

When I started at this company I was one of two women. Today I am proud to say that we have evolved and now 20% of our employees are women, from welders to assemblers, draftswomen, accountants and engineers.

I feel that you need leadership, analytical problem-solving, organizational skills and you really need to know your industry. Networking has really become a tool that has helped grow our company and with the help of MHEDA we have been very successful.

Do you have to have an intimate understanding of the products? YES, you have to know your product like you know the back of your hand. In a position of management, you need to be able to speak about your product from the heart, with passion and conviction. I started my career in a very different field and when I was hired at the company, I was a customer service rep with no knowledge of the material handling industry. It took hard work, long hours and a really awesome mentor to bring me to where I am today.

We currently work with SAP Business One as our main software. We proudly follow the 5S (lean manufacturing methodology) to reduce wastage, keep our plant uncluttered, clean and safe.

Communication is key. It is the way to go to keep the channels open, clear and precise for your team.

I try to treat our employees the way I would like to be treated. I respect each and every one of them and I listen to them – after all they are the key to our success. Without them we are just another manufacturing company with staff. I am told that I can be both compassionate and tough when needed depending on the situation. I think that this has really helped me in my position.

I am the person I am today because someone gave me a chance and put their faith in me and because I felt appreciated and valued I give it my 100% all the time and treat Cosme Inc. like it is my own company.