A desire to combine the “rationality of math and science” with the “creativity and ingenuity of engineering” brought Kathleen Yamamoto to manufacturing and launched a challenging and rewarding career.
Since joining Koch Fertilizer Canada a little over six years ago, Kathleen has moved from a quality control coordinator to a fixed equipment specialist and now serves as a plant engineer at our Brandon, Manitoba facility.
“My roles have given me the opportunity to experience the challenges that come along with being a subject matter expert as well as exposed me to the obstacles that accompany planning, coordinating, and executing maintenance activities,” Kathleen said.
In her day-to-day activities as a plant engineer, Kathleen collaborates with various groups — reliability, engineering and maintenance — to develop and execute equipment strategies focused on optimizing plant performance. She loves solving large scale, complex problems that improve the business and getting to see those ideas put into action.
“In my role, I help make ammonia production more reliable and efficient, and further enhance safety,” she said. “This creates value for customers and society by helping supply the world with a product it needs, while at the same time enhancing environmental stewardship.”
Kathleen continually strives to be the best version of herself and ensuring the work she does is not only meaningful and important, but also challenging and aligned with her skills and interests.
She said her greatest career achievement so far isn’t a specific technical feat, certification or accreditation but is related to personal growth.
“Since starting out, I’ve built a lot more self-confidence, developing an ‘I’ve got this’ mentality when facing seemingly insurmountable challenges,” Kathleen said. “This has translated into a much more enjoyable, productive and stress-free environment.”
To others interested in the industry, Kathleen said the engineering profession can be intimidating at first, but people want you to succeed and are willing to help.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have mentors in my career who not only recognized my talents and strengths, but also provided critical, much needed feedback,” she said. “I’m incredibly grateful to have had people take chances on me, share knowledge and believe in my abilities.”
She encourages more women to consider a career in manufacturing, because the industry could benefit from their ideas and provides many opportunities to do meaningful, well-paid work.
“I am hopeful to see many more women in the industry, in general, especially in leadership and managerial roles,” Kathleen said. “Because of that, I believe the future of manufacturing will be more vibrant, innovative and advanced, not just technologically but also in how we interact. I hope my work will impact the future world of manufacturing by inspiring more women to see potential in a career here, and that they belong.”
As in her career, Kathleen focuses on growth in her personal life. Exercise, especially weightlifting, is important to her and she continually pushes her body to its limits to see what she can achieve. She also loves reading, preferably non-fiction, to gain new insights, perspectives and grow her knowledge on a variety of topics. Additionally, Kathleen is a mentor through Big Brothers and Sisters of Brandon. She said the experience has been very special and she enjoys doing activities with her “little”, such as baking, cooking and painting together.