Whitney Mantooth never saw herself working in a manufacturing facility.
“Originally, I wanted to be a pharmacist,” Whitey said. “After working in a pharmacy for a few years in college, I learned I did not want to be a pharmacist.”
While studying kinesiology and unsure what to do after graduation, Whitney decided to change paths. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in applied exercise physiology and a Master of Public Health in occupational health and safety. She currently is pursuing a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary engineering from Texas A&M.
Whitney started her career with Koch at Georgia-Pacific as an entry-level professional in ergonomics. Now, she is the health and safety specialist at Koch Fertilizer’s Dodge City facility.
“From starting out in ergonomics, if you would’ve told me I’d be doing process safety management and emergency response I would have probably laughed nervously,” she said.
However, Whitney found she enjoys the freedom of creativity and the challenge. As her role continues to evolve, she has had many growth opportunities, such as starting a drone program on-site and creating a virtual platform to deliver hazmat technician training to plant operators.
“The culture at Koch has influenced how I do my job by allowing me to challenge something with new ideas,” she said. “Not that every idea I’ve had has been a great one, but it’s nice my supervisor genuinely considers my ideas and takes the time to challenge them.”
A Rewarding Career
Whitney said a career in manufacturing can be very rewarding, especially for anyone who likes a challenge. The industry is seeing changes in technology with new and exciting innovations coming to market.
One of the most rewarding experiences in her career has been learning new roles and being able to help train others.
“I’ve felt most helpful when an employee confides in me that training we previously provided was insufficient and then finding alternative choices they feel bring more value,” she said.
Her advice to others in the industry is to always work on your communication and give people the benefit of the doubt. She said working in a large industry means working with a wide variety of personalities. It’s important to not get frustrated just because someone communicates differently than you.
A Sense of Community
Outside of work, Whitney is an avid athlete. Growing up, her family was very involved in sports — her dad was a coach — and one way they bonded. She enjoys all types of fitness including CrossFit, powerlifting, running, swimming and cycling. She has run two marathons while working for Koch and is currently training for an Ironman competition.
If she is not working out, you can find her spending time training her dog and hanging out with her tortoises. She became interested in dog training in college and found it a great way to connect with people. She also enjoys baking and cooking.
Whitney said she got into baking when she first started at Koch. One day she brought an apple pie to work, which her coworkers really appreciated, and they started to open up to her.
“This made me realize food really does bring people together, and it gave me a sense of community and helped me improve relationships with operators from the site,” she said.