Jill Shearer graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and has held positions at TASI Test and Inspection, a global provider of product testing and inspection services; the Indar Motors and Generators business unit of Ingeteam Inc., a technological group that specializes in electric power conversion; and ALPS Inspection, which manufactures systems for nondestructive leak testing of containers and packages. ALPS is a TASI Group company.
Shearer started as an office manager and took on more responsibility in sales and customer service — her start in the plastics industry. She eventually led the inside sales and customer service team.
"I was drawn to the industry because it allowed me to work with customers, engineers, manufacturing, sales managers and finance," she said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey.
Today she is the general manager of Oak Creek, Wis.-based ALPS Inspection — the first female general manager in the company's history. The company serves the food and beverage, health care, household, automotive and industrial packaging markets.
Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for Shearer.
"Maintaining a high level of engagement in every aspect of the business is a challenge, especially with remote work environments," she said. "Staying connected while navigating the pandemic is tough."
Another challenge, a longstanding one, is the lack of diversity in the industry.
"I'm still surprised by the lack of gender, race and ethnic diversity in the plastics industry. It's getting better, but there's still a lot of work to be done to be more inclusive. That's why events like Women Breaking the Mold are so necessary," Shearer said.
Shearer is a member of PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, and the Women in Manufacturing Wisconsin chapter.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Shearer: I'm really interested in the increased use of rPET [recycled PET] and PCR in blow molding. Plastics and sustainability is not an either-or issue. It's exciting to see this technology develop as the industry listens to consumer demands.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Shearer: There's opportunity for every skill, talent and passion in the plastics industry, no matter your background.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Shearer: It's OK to fail, but fail fast and move on.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Shearer: I have an elderly friend who survived WWII in Europe, immigrated to the U.S. as a young woman with nothing, started her own business and raised a family. She is an inspiration to me and a symbol of perseverance.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Shearer: Walking to the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan and taking in the vast expanse of rippling, blue, fresh water.