Building Connections for Women in STEM | Nestlé Purina Careers
Meet Melantha – Manager, Environmental & Energy
Tell us about your career path at Nestlé Purina and how you found your way into your current role.
I started with Nestlé Purina in 2018 as a contractor looking for something new. I started on the environmental engineering team, which was later called sustainable operations, and now our environmental group is part of the Engineering Technical Compliance team in NPE. My current title is Manager, Environmental & Energy, and I get to focus on driving positive impact for our factories, the business at large, and ultimately our planet.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your field?
Change is the biggest challenge with respect to meeting compliance and permit requirements, specifically when there is a transition in state or national administration. But I’ve learned to be agile. At Purina, we hear the word agility a lot because it is important to our teams’ and company’s success. Being adaptable, able to readjust, and resilient helps us overcome challenges and navigate change while meeting compliance standards and having the most positive impact that we can.
What advice would you give to younger girls considering a career in STEM?
Get out there and explore what opportunities await you in STEM. There’s longevity and long-term opportunity within each discipline—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. One thing I have learned since earning an engineering degree is that, irrespective of discipline, the study of engineering really drives the way we think, approach problems, and find creative solutions. Pursuing a career in STEM is not an easy feat, but if you stick with it, you’ll continue advancing those invaluable skills for the remainder of your career. My last piece of advice is to surround yourself with people that encourage you and support your goals. When things get difficult, those are the kind of people that will encourage you to carry on and finish what you set out to do.
How might we help girls have more confidence in their STEM abilities?
Exposure to women in STEM, access to classes and resources, and mentorship opportunities are the best ways in which we can help girls develop their confidence in STEM. For instance, you can be great at math, but if you don’t have access to algebra, statistics, or calculus classes, you may not recognize your potential to succeed in a math-related career. I think it’s a similar situation with exposure, and that’s why I volunteered with Boys Hope Girls Hope. The goal of this organization is to nurture and guide motivated young people in need to become well-educated, career-ready men and women for others. I have the opportunity as an experienced engineer, woman, and person of color to talk to youth about opportunities in engineering and set an example of what they can achieve.
Are there mentorship programs in place to support female, early career professionals?
Yes, we have a group called Women in Engineering (WiE) which is designed to create and develop connections among women in our organization. The mentorship program is volunteer-based and runs annually from March through the end of year. WiE pairs mentors and mentees based on application responses and similarity of projects, but try to connect folks that work in different parts of the business. I am participating as a mentor because I believe in connecting women in spaces that we don’t necessarily dominate. I also sit on the board of Saint Louis Section for American Society of Civil Engineers where we go into our local community to outreach students from a variety of backgrounds and educate them on civil engineering. I’m very passionate and intentional about showing up in those spaces. Women, and for me, women of color, need to see someone in these spaces so they can aspire to do the same thing.
Do you or your team plan on celebrating International Women in Engineering Day?
One of our team members is on the WiE planning committee, and she’s very involved in planning events for special occasions such as International Women in Engineering Day. I am going to encourage those on my team to participate in the upcoming events to celebrate this holiday!
How have you felt supported by Nestlé Purina as a woman in engineering?
I have felt a tremendous amount of support from Purina. The culture here is focused on people and building people—it’s inspiring. In addition to that, people in upper management are approachable and have been more than agreeable to sit down and have an informal conversation with me. I can tell they want to support me and help me develop professionally. Something that intrigues me is knowing what keeps people at an organization. Well, Purina retains their associates by caring for their people. Our people leaders are accessible and ready to build talent. Our company is committed to developing you into whatever you want to do here. Building your career is not an easy path or linear at times, but the people at Purina will get you to where you want to go.
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