Michelle Kohr's mother started as an administrative assistant at a manufacturing company. She went back to school to get her master's degree in business while working, then worked her way up to become an operations manager. Her career path led her to become an EHSS manager in another manufacturing facility.
"She taught me to never stop learning, be strong in who you are and to always stand up for what you believe no matter how difficult it may be," Kohr said.
Kohr has followed in her footsteps, earning a master's degree in environmental biology from Governors State University and now working as an environment, health, safety and security manager for Sabic.
Her current challenge is keeping the team fully staffed, due to retirements and open positions.
"During my time as the EHSS manager, I have had to fill in for part of my team due to open positions. While trying to fill the open positions, I was required to learn the other disciplines in EHSS in which I was not as knowledgeable. Due to that situation, I feel I am a more well-rounded manager and can understand the job responsibilities and struggles my team may be facing," she said.
Kohr's greatest achievement, she said, was being honored for the 2020 Step Ahead Awards with two other women from Sabic.
"The 'mold' I am trying to break is being a female in more of a male-dominated field," she said. "The EHSS field has more males as managers within all facets. As a woman, I feel it is challenging to be seen as an equal team member, to receive equal pay and to be valued for my knowledge and leadership abilities."
Q: What's an accomplishment of yours that most people don't know about, either for work or in your personal life?
Kohr: An accomplishment that helped me in my professional as well as my personal life was attending college to earn my master's degree in science. I attended college on campus while working full time, raising a family and maintaining a household.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Kohr: Due to ongoing water shortages across the globe, I am interested in the technology for desalination for potable water. With that comes ensuring the water that is being desalinated is clean. With the concern and focus of plastic pollution in the ocean, many technologies have been developed and continue to be developed and enhanced in order to clean up the ocean and reuse the plastic that is removed.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Kohr: If I were a CEO of a company, I would meet with each one of the managers to understand their frustrations, find out what is working with their team and department, and what improvements they feel could be made in their team and department. I like collaboration, but I also like to get a feel of what issues may be occurring to understand how to improve the company.