Rachael Wanounou started at Ormantine USA Ltd. Inc. eight years ago — her first role in the plastics industry. She was working in an administrative position when she saw the job opening for a medical tubing manufacturer in Palm Bay, Fla.
"I had never worked in plastics manufacturing and the opportunity to work for a company that provided a product for laboratories and the medical field was very appealing, and I thought it would be interesting to learn more about this industry," she said.
Now the director of operations, Wanounou manages and monitors production of various departments, implements policies for safety and quality, supervises production schedules and on-time delivery, and coordinates new product designs in collaboration with the engineering staff. She also enforces a culture of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement.
Career highlights for Wanounou include Six Sigma black belt certification, Project Management Professional certification and ISO 9001:2015 certified internal auditor. She is an active Cub Scout leader and committee member as well as an advancement chair in training and committee member in her local Boy Scouts of America troop.
"My greatest achievement was when I was able to successfully aid my company in receiving their ISO 9001:2015 certification and successfully completing surveillance and recertification audits over the past seven years with no findings," she said. "I put a lot of hard work in developing and implementing quality control policies that have helped reduce nonconformances."
Wanounou earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in interpersonal and organizational communications from the University of Central Florida.
She also has a creative side and created the brochures, signage and digital catalog used online and at trade shows.
"According to a 2021 article in Commerce.gov, although women make up about 47 percent of the total workforce, they only make up about 30 percent of the 15.8 million people employed in manufacturing industries, and only one in four manufacturing leaders are women," Wanounou said. "I believe I am breaking the mold for women in careers of manufacturing by working my way up [in] this field and helping my company achieve its goals."
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Wanounou: The plastics industry is diverse in its applications, and I would absolutely encourage someone considering a career in this industry to seek out a job in their field of interest, whether that be plastics recycling, molding, extruding, etc., because they can make their own impact.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Wanounou: I think emerging technology and discoveries of plastics recycling opportunities are extremely important and interesting to follow. Some of the interesting innovations I read about include the discovery of a bacteria capable of breaking down plastics as well as repurposing plastics into clothing, packaging and even roads.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Wanounou: My mentor is the company president, Michael Willmont. Everything I know about plastics extrusion I've learned from him. His dedication to providing a quality product and commitment to excellent customer service is inspiring.