In her 23 years in the automotive industry at Delphi, Hope Reeves' experience with plastics focused on its ability to lightweight vehicles.
"I recognized early on that plastics are the best option for protection, comfort and fuel economy, which ultimately reduces CO2 emissions and fuel usage," Reeves said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey. "From automotive, I transitioned into plastic films and learned about the tremendous benefits of health and hygiene films."
She joined Clopay Plastic Products Co. Inc., a supplier of printed breathable films that was acquired by Evansville, Ind.-based plastics packaging company Berry Global Group Inc. in 2017, and worked with elastic films used in baby diapers. She added other films to her portfolio, including breathable films used in hygiene applications that require comfort and protection. Reeves is now plant director at Berry's Augusta, Ky., location.
"Films produced at my location offer sterile options for surgical sheets, gowns and instrument panels to reduce the risk of infection. Our industrial laminates are used in the production of protective apparel, which provide barrier protection against hazardous waste or infectious diseases such as COVID-19," she said. "I am proud to be part of an industry that provides convenience and protection to so many."
Reeves has a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University.
Career highlights include a $20 million project to install extrusion and lamination lines to increase capacity by 66 percent, an interdependent safety culture resulting in a reduction in recordables from 18 per year to once per year in the past four years and an increase in container recycling by double in three months.
"As a plant manager, my greatest achievement is developing each of my team members and creating a collaborative work environment," Reeves said. "Through a culture of teamwork and accountability, my team has improved our safety performance by 94 percent, our quality performance by 83 percent, and our efficiencies continue to improve year over year. My approach focuses on education, engagement and risk reduction, which allows each individual to contribute their strengths to the overall corporate goals."
Jessica Leibson, global marketing communications specialist at Berry, nominated Reeves for Women Breaking the Mold.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Reeves: Currently, my biggest challenge at work is keeping all of our teammates fully engaged while navigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a plant manager, I have challenged my leadership team to find new ways to stay connected, improve communication and increase engagement. We have improved our use of Microsoft Teams and continue to find creative ways to work together while practicing social distancing. During this time, we have also participated in remote team fitness challenges, such as a commitment to work out 150 minutes per week. These competitions have allowed us to maintain social distancing while relieving stress, having a little fun and building camaraderie.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Reeves: As a new CEO, I would observe company performance and culture while building relationships with the leadership team. Once I have the right people on my team, we would develop the company vision and strategies by leveraging the strengths of the team to meet the opportunities of the industry.
I would ensure a culture of inclusion, learning and engagement. I have been blessed to have worked in two different plants during my career that were grounded in a family work environment with a drive to improve year over year. I would like to see the same thing at the corporate level supporting the plants on their journey to excellence.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Reeves: My dad gave me two pieces of advice that made me who I am today.
First, being smart is great, but it is what you do with your smarts that matters. No matter what you choose to do in this life, you must work hard and give your best every day. My work ethic and dedication has taken my career to higher levels of responsibility.
The second piece of advice was to find my passion and make that my career. He shared that advice at a pivotal moment during the automotive crisis of 2010, which led me to my career with Berry.
I am grateful for my parents, who believed in me and instilled in me that with hard work and determination that I could do anything that I set my mind to.
Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?
Reeves: I am opportunistic when it comes to my career path. I love working with the people on the production floor, and I am driven to improve their work life as well as to develop them to be their best selves. I would be thrilled to take on a new challenge that allows me to influence corporate policies or performance to secure the future of our plants as well as the communities that we live and work in.
Q: What is your personal "mold" that you are breaking?
Reeves: While I work in a male-dominated industry, the "mold" that I am breaking is to continue to challenge my own boundaries. Ongoing education and accepting different opportunities has pushed me to become more than I ever knew that I could become.
My personal "mold" has also been broken by my new passion for sustainability. In 2019, I participated in Berry's Plastics Ambassadors program at the University of Michigan. It was an incredible experience and brought home the message of recycling and driving to zero landfill waste. Following that program, I used the information that I learned to educate my team, begin a partnership with the local community and implement a green team with passionate team members.