Starting in 1997 as a press operator, Denine Wilson worked her way through various roles at custom injection molder Imperial Plastics Inc. before becoming senior project engineer and team lead for the company's Lakeville, Minn., location. She has stepped in as interim engineering manager in 2018, overseeing all locations.
"She took the job without knowing it was the start of her career path," Meghan Oldenburg, Imperial sales and marketing coordinator, wrote in her nomination of Wilson. "She grew to love the industry because of her passion for helping customers and the relationships built with them through problem-solving and innovative designing."
Wilson, who graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science, created and led the implementation of a project management system, including its rollout and training companywide.
Oldenburg nominated Wilson for her "personal drive for career development and growth and her willingness to make the people around her better."
"She comes in with a positive attitude wanting to learn every day, and her ability to remain open minded has helped her excel and standout amongst her peers," Oldenburg said in an emailed statement.
Wilson said she is surprised how few females have higher-level positions in the plastics industry. If she were CEO of a company, she would evaluate its current culture and "ensure that everyone felt free to express their needs and/or concerns to create a positive and open environment."
Wilson, who likes to relax by spending time with a book or her family, is a soccer coach and a treasurer for her daughter's Girl Scout troop.