Q&A: Dionne Douglas, Engineering Manager at the Kimberly-Clark Chester Mill (KC) and current member of the Foundation of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors.
Dionne Douglas is an Engineering Manager at the Kimberly-Clark Chester Mill (KC). She is responsible for developing the talents of her team and driving engineering results across multiple assets within the mill. In addition, Dionne sits on the Mill Leadership Team making her indirectly responsible for the overall mill success. Dionne’s previous roles within KC as an Asset, Utilities and Capital Projects Engineer, helped to develop her technical and leadership skills in preparation for her current role.
Continue reading to learn more about this inspirational woman who is making a historical impact in Delaware County’s business community:
Prior to Kimberly-Clark Dionne worked in varying industries located across the US. She spent time with The Boeing Company building the 747, 767 and 777 airplanes, with Corning, Inc producing high purity fused silica for the semiconductor industry and with Target supporting their distribution centers.
Through it all, Dionne has maintained a passion for volunteering and community service. She has served as a volunteer in each organization, hoping to positively affect every community that she encounters. Currently, Dionne serves as the co-Chair of the KC Chester Mill’s United Way campaign, helping to raise over $400K annually for the local community. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Delaware County Local Board and The Foundation of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce. Dionne also serves on the Widener University’s School of Engineering Board of Advisors.
Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Dionne earned her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University and her Master of Business Administration in Executive Leadership from the Jack Welsh Management Institute. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and four daughters - or you may find her on a stage dancing with her performance dance troupe.
How many years have you been with your current company/ organization?
Why do you believe your business/ organization a Chamber member?
Kimberly-Clark is committed to be an integral part of the communities in which they operate and serve. They see the Chamber as a partnership where KC is supporting the efforts to move the local community forward as the Chamber builds the systems to allow for long term industrial growth in the area.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your Delaware County Chamber of Commerce membership?
Building partnerships with other companies in the area. Having the ability to learn best practices, understand the needs of our neighbors and forge relationships. A large portion of our workforce is from the area, the Chamber allows us to give back to the community that means a lot to our people.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting out her career?
Seek out and maintain a mentor. I didn't realize until later in my career how important it is to have someone to guide me through the tough situations and important decisions. Having a person who has knowledge and experience pour that wisdom into me and guide me through my tough days has been invaluable. I would not be here today if not for my multitude of mentors along the way.
In honor of March being International Women's Month, can you identify a woman in history that has inspired you and explain why?
Mae C. Jamison. I was introduced to her once she became the first African American woman to travel in space in 1992. She was able to do what I thought was impossible at that time, be a black woman in space. Mae was able to live out her passions in life by first earning her engineering degree, then her doctorate and working as a doctor for the Peace Corps, before traveling to space. I believe she inspired me mostly because I could see my potential in her. I saw an African American woman, an engineer, that could be whatever she wanted to be. Her ability to defy odds and become an astronaut is enough, but what is still inspiring is that she continues to live her life outside of the box. She promoted and studied future space travel, exposed young children to space, acted on Star Trek, was a professor and wrote a book for children. Mae Jamison's life has been extraordinary and makes me think about what I need to do to live out my passion in life.
Can you explain any obstacles you have faced as a woman in the workplace and how you got past them?
My greatest challenge has been that I am typically the only woman in the room, which at times is unnerving and intimidating. I am an Electrical Engineer that has worked in manufacturing my entire career. The majority of my peers have been men as are the maintenance teams that I have worked with and the vendors that I have employed. It took time for me to build confidence in my own abilities and knowledge to get over the feeling of ineptitude. I had to recognize that sometimes I was the expert in the room, even though others didn't think I could be. To be honest, that is a mental struggle that I still face from time to time. It requires a constant inner conversation, reminding myself that I do belong, I am smart enough and I have a voice that needs to be heard.
Can you share any tips you have for woman who are trying to make secure a board of directors position?
Just be you. Your resume and LinkedIn profile shows that you have the talent, education, and experience to qualify you for the seat. What they need to understand is your fresh perspective and out of the box thinking. They need to know how you will use your experience, connections and expertise to help move the agenda forward and benefit the organization. Showcase what makes you unique and how your goals and passion align with their purpose and vision.
What motivates you?
This is a tough question. I think I am motivated by the desire to know more and to do more. I love a challenge, even as it is beating me down, I bask in the ability to see it through to the end. I am driven to help people, I believe that I have been blessed to be a blessing to others; so I am driven to do whatever I can to make where I work, where I play, where I live, better for others.
Are you involved with any other community organizations or charities?
I sit on the Delaware County Local Board for the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. I am also a new member of the Wider University School of Engineering Board of Advisors.