STEP Ahead Winners Strengthen the Next Generation of Manufacturing Leaders
ABB's Bria Williams and Suzanne Mitchell recognized by the Manufacturing Institute
The Manufacturing Institute identifies innovation, creativity, and problem solving as the most common attributes of the women recipients of the 2022 STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leaders Awards. Few can be better characterized than this year’s ABB award winners, Suzanne Mitchell and Bria Williams.
Exceptional in their craft and passionate in their approach, they have been recognized as leaders at ABB and across the manufacturing industry. Joined by more than 130 other women in manufacturing during the 10th annual STEP Ahead Gala, Suzanne and Bria have continued ABB’s rich history of women leadership. And while their perspectives are unique – Suzanne a seasoned operational leader and Bria an upstart human resources business partner – they understand the strengths that are required to succeed.
Having spent her early career in male-dominated fields like defense contracting and the automotive industry, Suzanne learned to “get out of my comfort zone” very quickly. This allowed her to take calculated risks that elevated her career and allowed her to be a champion for not only women, but all early career professionals. As the leader of ABB’s facility in Columbus, Mississippi, Suzanne’s passion is to bring more young people to the manufacturing sector, showing them that college degrees work in manufacturing, and that small communities can continue to thrive. Developing the next generation of manufacturing leadership is the legacy she wants to leave behind.
“My passion for manufacturing has changed over the years from starting out eager to learn and understand how things are made to working with people and watching people grow and learn within the company,” says Suzanne. Her willingness to support colleagues professionally and personally while delivering positive business results is why she is our 2022 STEP Ahead Honoree.
And it will not take long to realize why Bria Williams, a human resources business partner in Pinetops, North Carolina, and a self-described “manufacturing brat” is ABB’s STEP Ahead Emerging Leader. Having spent her after-school childhood by her dad’s side in various manufacturing facilities, Bria understands the opportunities that a manufacturing career can provide.
“I am passionate about manufacturing because it allows me to mix my passions for helping people, bettering processes and building relationships,” says Bria. She has chosen to focus on making those around her better, through change management projects, a problem-solving focus, and encouraging more engagement with leadership.
“With the visibility I have as an emerging leader, I understand the importance of influencing the next generation and my peers around me.” Much of that influence extends beyond the operational processes of ABB. As a former president of a local chapter of ABB’s Encompass Black Professionals employee resource group, and a member of the Encompass Women and Encompass Young Professionals groups, Bria prioritizes mentorship and retention of new talent. She makes it a point to meet with new female and young professionals regularly to offer guidance on career development and company culture.
With decades of experience and an eagerness to make people better, Suzanne and Bria are shaping the future of ABB. Their passion to empower colleagues, ability to solve problems, and support of innovation is strengthening the next generation of manufacturing leaders.