Lauren Sousa, 22
Quality Technician, MTD Micro Molding
Before joining Charlton, Mass.-based micromolded medical component manufacturer MTD Micro Molding, Lauren Sousa worked at a grocery store and did occasional masonry work with her father while pursuing a liberal arts degree.
"My dad, brother and I were actually doing masonry work at MTD's vice president's home, and he asked my brother if I was looking for a job because he could tell I was a hard worker," Sousa said. "I was so excited about getting this job offer because I was ready for a change. I'm not sure if I would have really known about the plastics industry if it wasn't for MTD, and I have learned so much about the industry already and I can't wait to see what the future holds."
Sousa started at MTD in August 2020, was trained on programming the OGP machines in November 2020 and took over as head of the quality lab by January 2021. In October 2021, she attended the Chicago Quality/Assembly Trade Show, "where I was exposed to so many new technologies and finding a new microscope for our lab," Sousa said.
"When at the trade show in Chicago, I was exposed to so much new technology. I saw a handheld 3D scanner, which was amazing. This device was able to create a 3D image with just a few swipes over any larger-scale item," she said.
To advance her career, Sousa has had blueprint reading and OGP training and took a supervisor/manager course.
"I will also complete formal training on the TomoScope [CT scanner] as well as GD&T [geometric dimensioning and tolerancing] training," she said. "I am always ready to learn more, and I've gotten very interested in how the whole process works from start to finish, not limiting it to just the quality world."
Sousa's current challenge at work is "perfecting the use of all the machinery in the quality lab as well as implementing the new ERP [enterprise resource planning] system." Her greatest achievement, meanwhile, has been learning about quality control and becoming head of the quality lab.
"The thing that surprises me the most about the plastics industry is how MTD can make such small parts," she said. "It really is amazing that parts so small can function the way they do."
Sousa was nominated for Rising Stars by Lindsay Mann, director of sales and marketing for MTD.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Sousa: Honestly, I look up to everyone at MTD. There are so many amazing and talented people there. A day does not go by where I don't learn something new from someone. Everyone is so helpful and always willing to answer any questions.
Someone I look up to outside of work is my mom. My mom is my best friend and such an amazing woman who has been the glue to my family. I wouldn't be where I am without my mom; she has taught me to persevere and stand up for myself. She's taught me to always do my best and always put my all into everything I do.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Sousa: If I were CEO of a company, I would try to get as much feedback from the employees as possible in order to see where they think there are weaknesses and strengths. I would then use that to help improve the function and environment of the workspace.
Q: What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Sousa: I think my biggest failure was not realizing my own potential. I have struggled for a long time thinking I'm not good enough and holding myself to unrealistic expectations. I have grown so much since then and looking back I have a lot to be proud of. The realization of my own potential has taught me that I can do so much more instead of holding back. It allowed me to speak up and offer my ideas and solutions, even if they aren't the best ones. Getting the job at MTD has validated a lot of the hard work I have put into myself over the years.