Vice president of operations, Dymotek Corp.
Shelley Fasano has been with Dymotek Corp. almost nine years. She started out in the quality department, was promoted to operations manager in 2009 and in 2014 became vice president of operations for the Ellington, Conn.-based injection molder.
The 43-year-old executive received her MBA in 2002 from Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. As a member of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, she participated in its 2013 education program focused on opportunities for women in manufacturing. The group recently selected Fasano as a panel member for its Made in Connecticut: 2015 Manufacturing Summit. She is a member of Toastmasters International and enjoys reading and traveling.
Q: What social media sites do you commonly use?
Fasano: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram
Q: What are some of your career highlights?
Fasano: We have steadily grown since 2007 when I started at Dymotek. The foundation of our growth comes from the years we have invested in our technologies: liquid silicone rubber and especially two-shot silicone, automation and multimaterials. Due to this focus on technology, we were able to survive and thrive during the economic downturn. Our growth has been in the double digits, but in 2013 and 2014 we had a number of new customers and projects that drove sales up quickly. Where I was really able to help Dymotek was to oversee the transition from a small company with basic business systems to a much larger company with very robust methods for doing business.
Q: What was your first plastics job and why were you interested in the industry?
Fasano: I kind of just fell into the plastics industry. My first job in plastics was in the accounting department in a manufacturing facility in my hometown. After some time, management wanted me to move up into another position, but not until I had some manufacturing “ground training.” I did a little moving around and ended up in Kentucky running their manufacturing facility there. It was a little overwhelming at first, but soon I realized that I loved plastics manufacturing. I loved not being stuck behind a desk, and I loved the hands-on work. One of my favorite parts was the day-to-day to challenges, like puzzles. I've always liked a challenge, and this job always kept me on my toes.
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Fasano: My greatest achievement would be when I implemented QS-9000 in two facilities. This was a huge undertaking, but with the help of my collaborative team, we succeeded. It was the first time I really relied on teamwork for success.
Q: What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Fasano: Without tying it to one event, I would say that my biggest shortcoming is not asking for assistance sooner. I have a tendency to always feel the need to complete everything on my own, even if I am in over my head. I learned that if I need help, I need to speak up. Asking for assistance isn't a bad thing.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Fasano: Currently labor is a big challenge at Dymotek. We grew a large amount over a very short period of time and finding quality employees who are interested and engaged while still maintaining the Dymotek culture has been difficult. With a large number of new employees, it is easy for the culture to get diluted and I have been trying to make sure that doesn't happen.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Fasano: So much in the world today is amazing to me. It is hard to pick just one. However, I have to say I was impressed when I came across an article about Baxter, the robot. The fact that he is quickly programmable to do all different tasks is incredible. This robot could help with everything from machine operation, to packaging products, to material handling. He is also adorable. With that, I guess I could say I have an interest in the emerging technology in robotics.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Fasano: Everything. Every day brings something new and different and there are endless possibilities for creativity from designing work cells, to improving product flow, to actual part design. I was recently at a manufacturing conference where they compared manufacturing to art. That was something I had never thought about before, but it is true.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Fasano: Do it! No matter what your passion is, you can find a way to express it in plastics, all while being a part of a fast-paced, fast-growing, innovative manufacturing sector. Plastics has so much to offer: operations, quality, engineering, customer service, marketing and so on.
Q: If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
Fasano: I think one crucial thing is to be present. Be present and lead by example. I think a lot of times a CEO is viewed as a superhuman, or an untouchable entity of the company. Employees forget that a CEO is just a person, who likely was once in their position. I would make it a point to talk to every employee, starting with front-line workers. Find out what is important to them, and listen to what they have to say. Companies succeed or fail based on the engagement and morale of their workforce.
Q: Who is your mentor, or someone you look up to?
Fasano: It is hard to pick just one. I've learned something from everyone I've worked for, bad or good. The one who stands out most to me is my former boss, Sandy. She was tough and always pushed me to be the best I could be and then try harder. While working for Sandy, I had the first opportunity to work in operations. Through her guidance and encouragement, I moved to Kentucky to run the manufacturing facility and while she was never my direct supervisor again, her support and direction is something I relied throughout my career. She believed in me and taught me a lot in the time I spent working with and for her.