Built to Last: The Forces that Guide Women Manufacturing Leaders

By GAF Roof Views 03-29-2021
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Beth McSorley, General Manager, Coatings Operations at GAF, and Katrina Baker, Plant Manager of GAF Tuscaloosa, share core personal values that have helped them drive results as women in manufacturing, and establish lasting relationships through their leadership.

"When I started at GAF 23 years ago, nobody handed me a playbook that said, 'here's what you need to do,' says Beth McSorley, General Manager, Coatings Operations. "And while some may think that's a bit harsh, it's what I needed. It was up to me to figure things out."

Over the course of her time at GAF, McSorley has held a variety of roles. She began working in Inside Sales, and then shifted to the technical side of the business working in Field Services inspecting single-ply roofs. Following her work in the field, she took on responsibilities in codes and testing, before transitioning to the operations side of the manufacturing business. Now, as the General Manager of Coatings Operations for GAF's Walpole, Phoenix, Gum Springs, and Charleston plants, she reflects on her professional growth. "Over the years, I've learned that we're a dynamic company with dynamic people that solve dynamic problems. And that figuring things out—while challenging—is an opportunity that helps us progress."

The Importance of Values

In today's world—with shifts in the market, customer and client needs becoming more diverse and complex, and technology advancing—charting our own path is a real challenge. To push the industry forward, it helps to learn from each other about what keeps us grounded, empowered, and successful in driving results. For leaders Beth McSorley and Katrina Baker, it comes down to core personal values.

"I operate from 10 personal values," says Baker, Plant Manager of GAF Tuscaloosa, "but there are two that frequently come to mind: do no harm, and right things for the right reasons." Baker learned the value of 'do no harm,' a commonly taught principle in the world of healthcare, when she was the primary caregiver of her mother for ten years. Baker applies this value in all aspects of her work and personal life and even used it as a guiding force when defining the priorities for GAF's Tuscaloosa plant.

"When I began at the Tuscaloosa plant, I spent a lot of time observing the plant, speaking with team members, and taking detailed notes," says Baker. This allowed her to align the team on three key priorities:

  1. Safety (people, then equipment)
  2. Quality (of product and workmanship)
  3. Productivity (the rate of our output)

Katrina learning on site

Inside the home, Baker frequently uses the phrase 'right things for the right reasons'—words her daughters know far too well. To Baker and her family, this means acting in a way that you can be proud of and having the self-awareness to think through how your actions might affect others. "It all comes down to respecting people," Baker says in speaking about her two core values. When applying these core values to her work in the Tuscaloosa plant, it means fostering a community where everyone is respected."

Advice for Future Leaders

In describing her experiences managing our Coatings plants, McSorley shares the importance of respect and other forces that guide her.

"It's so important to stop and say hello to everyone. It's a small gesture that takes work, but it's necessary if you really respect and value people." McSorley has worked hard to be as approachable as possible over the years and aspires to be someone who can have a conversation with anyone. When asked what advice she would give to emerging leaders in manufacturing, she shares the importance of being authentic to yourself through a football analogy.

"After seeing his success, many NFL coaches tried to mimic Bill Belichick," she says. "At the end of the day, they failed because there's only one Bill Belichick. I'm not Bill Belichick. But I'm Beth, and that's the best thing you can be—yourself."

Beth fishing

The personal values we hold make us who we are, whether we strive to do no harm, remember right things for the right reasons, establish respect or act with authenticity. Values can provide a sense of direction, guide our decision-making, and help us stand out.

To learn more about how you can apply your personal values to career opportunities at GAF, visit www.gaf.com/careers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
More homes and businesses in the U.S. are protected by a GAF roof than by any other product. We are the leading roofing manufacturer in North America, with plants strategically located across the U.S. As a Standard Industries company, GAF is part of the largest roofing and waterproofing business in the world.
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