We were so inspired during our recent celebration of International Women in Engineering Day by our own women working in engineering, that we wanted to share their stories with you. From Latin America, our colleagues Mayra and Lupina share their thoughts on being women in what is sometimes stereotypically called a ‘man’s world’.
Lupina Paves the Way for Women in Engineering
Lupina Garza Flores joined us as a chemical engineer in 1981 and was the first ever woman at PPG to work in engineering at the North Mexico plant, supplying our General Motors (GM) customer.
I see all opportunities as challenges to complement our capabilities, and so was this one.
She spent some time as technical sales and service representative, then as manager for the GM account, before taking over the Andean region with GM. She also worked on the Ford account before focusing on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Heavy Duty Trucks (HDT).
She is now PPG commercial manager for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and HDT, Mexico. Plus, since 2014, she has also been chair of our Women’s Leadership Council chapter in Mexico.
I believe women are passionate explorers in the pursuit of excellence.
Mayra Realizes Her Engineering Dream
Mayra Wayss started her engineering career in 2001 as a trainee in an architectural plant in Brazil, participating in projects to increase capacity and improve wastewater treatment. PPG acquired the company in 2007 when Mayra began working at the Sumaré plant in the environment, health and safety (EHS) department before moving over to the resin-production plant.
It is an engineer’s dream to be part of the construction, commissioning, start up and operation of a new chemical plant. And I realized that dream at PPG.
Today, she’s back with the EHS team in the role of PPG EHS manager for Latin America South, a position she adores. She loves being able to ensure her colleagues have a safe environment to work in.
We face challenges every day, and we must be creative in how we face them.
Entering a Traditionally Male Profession
When Mayra decided to study engineering, she met with some resistance from her family who wanted her to pursue a career which is stereotypically considered more suitable for female. But all this did was strengthen her resolve and argument that gender does not define our skills.
Education, dedication and perseverance shape our career. I have seen over the past 19 years the positive impact a different point of view can make.
While Lupina first found it challenging to enter what could be considered a ‘man’s world’, it is of no concern to her now.
With hard work and passion, and by treating my peers as equals, I overcame all situations and placed myself in a position deserving of respect and rewarding experiences.
Women Inspiring Women at PPG
Both Mayra and Lupina are proud to be part of the PPG family. Thanks to their colleagues, they feel supported and valued for their hard work and commitment, and that there are many great female professionals to admire and be inspired by.
Lupina values having enthusiasm for and enjoying what she is doing and is driven by the knowledge she receives from others.
The environmental impact of Mayra’s work is a source of motivation to her, as is being able to spend time with people from different countries and cultures.
The advice she would give her younger self seems perfect for any woman in any career who is battling prejudice or a lack of support, so here it is:
Stay strong during your journey, because it’s worth it.
And When They’re Not Conquering the Engineering World?
Lupina lives in Guanajuato, Mexico, with her husband, Oscar, and her three children. She enjoys taking part in community activities like COLORFUL COMMUNITIES® with the Women’s Leadership Council. She also has passion for quality local Mexican food and drinks and calls herself a ‘social tequila drinker’.
Mayra admits she finds the work-life balance difficult, especially with a baby at home. But she considers it very important and values quality family time. She also likes to spend time with the senior residents at “Lar dos Velinhos” in Campinas, a home for people with disabilities.
They always have good stories to share and we can learn from them. I apply their advice in my daily activities at work.