Inspired by the pace of innovation and diverse markets served, Monica Christler's first plastics role was as a controller at Christler Chemical and Plastics Inc. She later became CEO, until the company was acquired by Northbrook, Ill.-based resin distributor M. Holland Co. in December 2012.
Christler then became general manager until 2016. She transitioned to regional sales manager, then product manager and is now director of sales for M. Holland.
"When I started in this industry in 1991, there were very few women in commercial roles, and although my background was in accounting, I quickly developed a passion for the customer and a desire to be in sales, eventually leading a sales team," she said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey. "Thriving in this arena was an incredible learning experience.
"In my current role, I am focused on supporting women as they develop in their commercial roles as well as attracting new talent. Our data suggests that less than 20 percent of commercial roles are currently held by women in the distribution space. I challenge myself to change that number through mentorship and empowerment of the women I know can be successful in this field," she added.
Christler received her bachelor's degree in accounting from Oregon State University and MBA from Portland State University. She is a certified public accountant.
"I am proud of the over 20-year growth on my teams that led to a successful regional distribution business. We had to adapt and change over the years through NAFTA and regulation changes, acquisitions of key suppliers by competitors and technology shifts. With each new change, I was able to lead strategy and successful teams who work together to keep our best-in-class status, and we did this while maintaining a strong culture and high level of service," Christler said of her greatest accomplishment.
Kristina Leal of Ink Communications nominated Christler for Women Breaking the Mold.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Christler: Leading an outside sales force during a pandemic has been a great challenge. I've had to focus on change management around motivating a team that is quarantined while developing and executing a virtual client engagement strategy. So far, the transition has been relatively smooth and successful but not without its challenges.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Christler: The industry's resilience and pace of change. I've held roles in finance, operations, sales and sourcing in this industry over almost 30 years and have never ceased to be challenged and fascinated by the opportunities that are around every corner.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Christler: As an organization, you need to sell trust. Most of our clients can source duplicate materials from others. Your brand and core values are your differentiator.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Christler: Look for a company with strong leadership, then break in and seek as many roles as possible to learn the industry. If you're comfortable with change, you've found a home!
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Christler: Actively listen to clients, vendors, competitors and employees to understand opportunities, challenges, our talent pipeline and how we can best serve our clients and stakeholders.