KMM’s Inspiring Women: Breaking Barriers in Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry has traditionally had a higher representation of men, but this has not stopped women from breaking through and leading the way for others. Two exceptional women at KMM have carved out successful careers in the industry, inspiring others along the way. This article will highlight their inspiring stories, achievements, and positive impact on their colleagues and the broader community.

Our first trailblazer is Nicole McGlashen, a medical guidewire & core wire grinder, a hands-on role involving exceptional precision and attention to detail to operate state-of-the-art machines and achieve near-zero tolerances. Through her grit and perseverance, Nicole has become a trailblazer for women in historically male-dominated roles in manufacturing. Our second trailblazer is Jessica Leggett, Head of Finance for KMM Group, a position requiring a deep understanding of financial analysis and strategic planning. Her inspiring story demonstrates that breaking with convention and following one’s passions can lead to a fulfilling and successful career.

Despite the different natures of their work, both women have demonstrated a passion for their jobs, a commitment to excellence, and a determination to succeed. Through their stories, we hope to shed light on women’s experiences in manufacturing and inspire others to pursue their dreams.

Nicole McGlashen, Wire Grinder

From a young age, Nicole was raised to believe in herself by her parents, a hairdresser, and a carpenter, who taught her that she was just as capable as her older brother. Her upbringing instilled quiet confidence, toughness, and a strong will that served her well. Despite losing all three of her family members early in adulthood, Nicole maintained a positive attitude and a deep appreciation for the blessings in her life.

However, Nicole recently encountered a challenge that tested her self-belief. Many job ads for the manufacturing industry led her to believe that women were not welcome to apply. Nevertheless, Nicole saw a natural fit in manufacturing, given her mechanical skills and hard-working nature, and refused to let gender norms hold her back. Instead, she took a less conventional approach and applied for a traditionally female-held custodial position at our company to create a “backdoor” into the manufacturing industry. She aimed to get her foot in the door and demonstrate what she could do. Her plan worked, and she quickly showed her worth as a skilled worker, and it became apparent that her determination would take her far beyond her initial role as a custodian.

Nicole started working at KMM during the pandemic. After a few months, she moved up to the shipping and receiving department and became a valuable member of the quality team. Eventually, she earned a spot as the only female among six wire grinders, including the supervisor and director.

The work was more than a paycheck for Nicole – she found meaning in her tasks and our values-based company culture. She thoroughly enjoys going to work and learning something new every day.

“I hope my story will help other women become confident moving forward in trades like manufacturing,” Nicole said.

Beyond her rewarding work, Nicole shared that the most important part of her life is her husband and three children. “I feel like it’s important for women to know that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.”

With her exceptional attitude, work ethic, and mechanical skills, Nicole has made an indelible mark here at KMM and envisions a bright future with the company. However, Nicole’s impact extends beyond her individual success. By demonstrating her capabilities and breaking through gender barriers, she has paved the way for other women to join KMM more conventionally – no backdoor strategies required. We are immensely grateful to Nicole for her trailblazing spirit and the opportunities she’s created for others. Nicole’s success story reminds us that with determination and perseverance, anyone can succeed, regardless of gender or background.

Jessica Leggett, CMA, Head of Finance

Jessica’s family-owned HVAC business inspired her strong work ethic and appreciation for hands-on work, with her dad as a role model. Despite the male-dominated work environment, her father employed several strong, no-nonsense women, reinforcing the importance of hard work regardless of gender. Drawing on these experiences, Jessica forged an unconventional accounting career path and chose to work in the hard-working manufacturing sector rather than a prestigious public CPA firm. Contrary to the stereotype of an accountant as a desk-bound number-cruncher, Jessica spends much of her time engaging with colleagues across all levels of the organization, from the shop floor to the executive wing.

“I love accounting, and I find it so exciting that I want to share it with everyone. The more I can teach people how their actions translate to financial performance, the more they can contribute to something bigger and help others. Whether on the shop floor, in HR, or in sales, everything has data behind it, and I enjoy understanding that data and sharing it. It’s fascinating, and the more I can help explain the financial perspective of their jobs, the more the company – and the people – can benefit.”

Her passion for accounting led her to develop a quarterly financial workshop for KMM’s 120 employees. With support from leadership, Jessica presents company financials to help her colleagues understand their work’s significance and contributions to the organization’s goals. As a result, she has empowered her colleagues to make more informed on-the-job decisions and become more financially savvy by sharing her expertise.

Jessica’s success in the manufacturing industry has made her an inspiring role model for other women in male-dominated industries. She encourages women to speak up and share their ideas, emphasizing that they should trust their education, knowledge, and expertise and have confidence in themselves. If something doesn’t feel right, she advises women to trust their instincts and stick to their beliefs, as they are likely correct. Her inspiring advice shows that women – and everyone – have the power to excel in any field and make meaningful contributions to their organizations.

We are proud to support all women in manufacturing, including our colleagues and friends who belong to Women in Manufacturing (WiM), a national and global trade association providing support to women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry.  

For more inspiring articles on our team and the incredible mission-critical manufacturing challenges we’ve overcome, visit our blog or contact us.