As research and development manager at Maag Group Americas, Alisha Konst is the first degreed mechanical engineer in her family as well as the only female engineering manager and the youngest within the Maag Group, the U.S. operation of Maag Pump Systems AG, the Swiss maker of melt pumps, pelletizers and continuous melt filters.
She graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. She joined the plastics industry with her job as research and development design engineer at Maag Group GALA, where she is now manager of the team.
"I wasn't initially particularly interested in plastics over other industries before working at Maag Group GALA," she said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey. "What I realized over the past years is that plastics is a fascinating engineering field because of the variety of applications and materials we have to deal with."
Konst named being presented with an Exceptional Performance Award by MacAulay-Brown for her willingness to go "above and beyond" to deliver a complex product with a quick turnaround, receiving a Maag Mission Award for innovation and being promoted to research and development manager in January 2020 as career highlights.
The best advice Konst has received is from her parents: "It is okay to fail as long as you can honestly say you've tried your hardest."
Konst is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. She was nominated for Women Breaking the Mold by Martin Baumann, vice president and general manager of Maag Group Americas.
She enjoys exploring "things outside of my day-to-day activities, so I often have a random hobby to work on," drawing and painting.
Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?
Konst: This is a difficult question as I am in the early stages of my career. However, in the future I could see myself as a VP or director of research and development within the plastics industry.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Konst: Don't allow what you know or how things currently are [to] limit you; seek out new information and opportunities for improvement/innovation.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Konst: I find the sustainable plastics market the most interesting because it holds the most opportunity for innovation and positive impact on the environment.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Konst: My current challenge is learning how to effectively manage. Having no prior management experience, I do not feel I have yet discovered my management style. I am working through the expected hurdles, but there have been quite a few surprises as well. Maag is patient and supporting me on this journey.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Konst: If I were a CEO, I would implement a mentorship program. In my opinion, one of the biggest signs of a great company is their ability to help their members develop and grow. Mentorships go well beyond the two- to three-day training courses and give both the mentor and mentee opportunity [to] grow and develop as individuals but also a team.