Renée Onesti knew early on what she would do for a living.
"Go be an engineer. If you find something you like better, then fine. But go be an engineer," her mother, Carol Boucha, would say to her.
"My mom always saw my creative and technical side," Onesti said. "She encouraged me from a young age to go into engineering. She even used the example that I could redesign telephones one day, back when phones had a cord that attached to the wall."
With 17 years under her belt in the plastics industry, Onesti is the director of engineering and maintenance at Kent Elastomer Products Inc. in Kent, Ohio.
But she notes she is not a "typical" engineer: "I'm collaborative, creative and a people person. I enjoy networking and connecting people in various businesses."
Onesti has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering technology from the University of Akron, and she's in the process of getting her master's degree at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. Onesti also has a certificate in applied project management.
Her first plastics job was LinPac Filmco, a manufacturer of PVC film for the food industry in Aurora, Ohio. Onesti said she fell in love with manufacturing and loved working on projects using her engineering degree.
She joined Kent in 2007.
"My greatest achievement and the thing I love most about my career is that I get to work with people in each department of the company to achieve some really great things," Onesti said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey.
"I am proud of the collaboration that happens when it's not one person's job to make improvements. From impressive energy savings to water usage reductions, from increased throughput to reduced scrap, and from controlling budgets to creating successful Preventive Maintenance programs, being a driving part of these teams is not only my favorite part of my job but also the most rewarding."
What Onesti said surprises her about the plastics industry is that there are always new ways to use plastics every day, from increasing safety and strength to decreasing weight and size for applications.
For advice she would give to someone considering a career in the industry, Onesti said plastics are relatively stable and continue to make advancements.
"Find something you're passionate about and find the place that makes it," she said. "You won't be bored, you won't run out of ideas, and you won't run out of possibilities."
Onesti is also involved with the Munroe Falls Park Board, Portage County Safety Council, Bloom of Kent, Order of the Eastern Star and River City Charities.