When Wendy Hoenig entered the workforce in 1986, it was predominately male-dominated. She spent most of her career working to show that she had the talent and desire to work in plastics and produce new materials for use by converters in the industry.
"This was unusual for a young woman, but as I proved myself in developing new materials and working closely with customers, my credibility grew and the career opportunities continued to come along," said the CEO and co-founder of Spring, Texas-based H&H Business Development LLC, a consulting firm. "I made it to the top levels of a Fortune 40 company and loved every minute of it. Today, I continue to break molds by working as a consultant in the plastics and packaging fields."
Hoenig, 54, sets the vision for the success of the company and ensures she has the right people aboard to help create that success.
"CEOs are never successful on their own. The most successful ones know how to surround themselves with good people that know how to set the right goals and deliver," she said.
Hoenig graduated from Rice University in Houston with a bachelor's degree in materials science.
She is a past member of the Georgia Tech external advisory board for the School of Polymers, Textiles and Fiber Engineering and the National Coatings Association's Science and Technology Committee and past president of the board of directors for the Rice Engineering Alumni. Hoenig currently serves on the Association of the Rice Alumni board of directors, the board of governors for the Plastics Pioneers Association and is a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers. She is also involved with BIG Love Cancer Care, a nonprofit organization that provides basic necessities and care to children affected by cancer and their families.
She was previously chief technology officer of Molecular Rebar Design LLC in Austin, Texas, and worked for Dow Chemical Co. for 25 years.
Her greatest career achievement has been receiving four R&D 100 Awards for innovative product commercialization for Inspire Performance Polymers, Inclosia, Dow XLA Fibers and Infuse olefin block copolymers. She also holds 15 U.S. patents.
"Be bold" has been the best advice Hoenig ever received, she said.
"One of my mentors early in my career told me to make decisions based on good data and never be afraid to stand up and speak your mind. This has served me well in my career," she said.
Without wanting to name specific mentors, Hoenig did say mentoring is critical to career development and long-term success.
"Having someone that you trust for guidance, having a safe place to talk about various issues, and someone who will pass along 'hard messages' is critical to career and personal growth," she said. "For me, I had two important mentors that counseled me on women's issues in the workplace and overall people leadership skills. Both were people I respected and admired for their skills in those topics.
"I grew as a leader with their personal mentoring. Likewise, as I grew as a leader, I made sure to give back to the next generation of leaders by serving as a mentor to many people coming up through the company," she added.
Hoenig said consulting is fun and allows her the time for family, friends and hobbies, although work-life balance can still be a challenge sometimes.
"My passion is cooking and growing my own herbs," she said. "I love pairing foods with wine and enjoying meals with friends. This provides relaxation and re-energizes me for the next big thing in business."