Prathna Oudom, 34
Production Supervisor/Process Engineer, Diversified Plastics Inc.
Born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Prathna Oudom's first plastics job was as a machine operator for Mikros Engineering, which supplies custom injection molding, insert molding, over-molding, tooling, assemblies and prototypes. Oudom moved to shipping/receiving, then setup technician and process technician.
He joined Anoka, Minn.-based medical device design, development and manufacturing company JunoPacific Inc. as a process engineer. In 2020, he became production supervisor/process engineer of Minneapolis-based custom injection molder Diversified Plastics Inc.
Oudom, of Brooklyn Park, Minn., said he was not initially interested in the plastics industry but it was the first place that gave him the opportunity to have his first job.
"The greatest achievement was completing my first year [as a] plastics engineer," he said. "I'm proud of this accomplishment, and I feel from what I learned is going to give me a big advantage in my career now."
He said the industry provides great opportunity for people of different disciplines. "And plastics are used in so many different ways ... both medical and nonmedical," he said.
Oudom described his biggest failure and learning experience when he applied for a setup technician position and was turned down due to lack of skill and experience. He tried learning more from going online or watching others. Five months later, he was asked if he was still interested in being a setup technician and was offered setup training.
"That taught me [sometimes] you need to try really hard in order to get what you want," he said, while also adding a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."
"[Oudom is a] great example of someone coming to the United States and making the most of his opportunities. He is very motivated to improve himself and the people around him. … He has high expectations of himself and expects that of others. He has been a key addition to our team and has significant growth potential," said Kevin Hogan, chief executive officer of Diversified Plastics.
Oudom's mother is also a machine operator, and his father is retired. He has a 3-year-old daughter, Delilah, with his wife, Iliana. To relax, Oudom enjoys going to the beach, listening to music, playing sports and spending time with his family.
Q: What steps have you taken to advance in your career?
Oudom: I am trying to learn more and know more about my company. The more you know the better for you and your career path.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Oudom: If you want to be a good leader, you have to show them what you can do!
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Oudom: My current challenge at work is time. As a production supervisor and process engineer at the same time I have a lot of responsibilities. Trying to get things done on time is my current challenge.
Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?
Oudom: So far, I like what I'm doing. If I qualify, my next step is to get a production manager role.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Oudom: I would try to speak to all employees and let them know that I'm here for them and serve them.