Before making the switch to the plastics industry, Mim Winter received master's degrees in international relations and Spanish at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and in acupuncture and oriental medicine from the New England School of Acupuncture in Massachusetts. She also independently started and ran a busy acupuncture clinic.
Winter also worked in talent acquisition and recruiting roles before joining Teknor Apex Co. in Pawtucket, R.I. She joined the custom compounder to work with the human resources team and transitioned to the commercial side after two years, describing the move as "thrilling, daunting, fascinating, petrifying, liberating and overall awesome."
"The learning curve was very steep, but I was hungry to learn and it was a turning point for my career that even years in the future I will forever consider it a highlight in my life," she said.
Now a sales representative in the vinyl division, Winter manages business with customers across New England and a portion of Upstate New York.
"I'm a liaison between our internal operations and our external customers. A large percentage of my customers are wire and cable manufacturers, and I work on day-to-day interactions with customers on a range of topics from compound recommendations, long-term projects, regulatory questions, quality and processing discussions, etc.," she said.
Winter also received her 200-hour yoga teacher certification and regularly taught classes in Providence, R.I., while working her corporate career. She even introduced yoga classes to the Teknor Apex headquarters and taught classes to employees.
"Teknor stoked my self-confidence to break the mold as a woman in our industry and to break the mold to change the entire trajectory of my career," Winter said. "The company, management and employees gave me more support than I ever could have imagined."
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Winter: I would do a lot of groundwork to understand what is happening at all levels of the company, including the "lower levels" where employees are working "in the weeds" keeping the company operating. I believe a lot of work by upper management is very high level, which of course is important to steer the company forward, but I believe data and reports don't always give the full picture about what is truly happening within the company. I believe a CEO who rolls up their sleeves to understand the company from the foundation upwards and speaks with people at all levels helps with interpreting where the company is at present and where it can go in the future.
Q: What is your personal "mold" that you are breaking?
Winter: Truly doubting if I should take a leap of faith by jumping into a sales position that was completely out of my comfort zone but knowing deep down that I could — and should. I was worried about the tough situations in which I'd find myself and wondering if I'd be too far out of my league. I was very comfortable in my "mold." I kept asking myself if I was really willing to put myself in a situation that would be very uncomfortable by forcing myself to learn a completely different role and transition from knowing so much in one role to absolutely nothing in another. I wasn't sure if I had it in me, but I ended up shattering my personal mold and have no regrets.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Winter: I'm heavily involved in the wire and cable industry, and being hands-on with projects in the 5G space has been fascinating. Our vinyl compounds are used in jackets and insulation across many cable extrusion companies, many of whom are involved in the fiber-optic and 5G/cellphone cable space. The national infrastructure plans are enormous, and the way cable designs are adapting to handle the changes in the future is really interesting.