Donna Bibber's grandfather, father, siblings and cousins all have tooling, engineering and plastics experience. "It runs in our blood, you might say," Bibber said.
Her own experience began at Nypro Inc. of Clinton, Mass. Today, she is the vice president of business development for micromolder and automated assemblies provider Isometric Micro Molding Inc. of New Richmond, Wis.
"I've been a silent partner in many micromolding businesses over the years — all focused on miniaturized devices. My dad [Richard Tully] started MTD Micro Molding, for example, and I was a partner for 10 years with my brother, Dennis Tully, who passed in 2019 and is a member of the Plastics Hall of Fame," she said.
She has assisted in more than 1,000 micromolding and assembly device programs. According to her Women Breaking the Mold survey, "[Bibber's] expertise in intraocular implants, bioresorbable polymers and PEEK implants gave rise to many new devices commercially available today."
Bibber is regularly a keynote speaker at medical and drug delivery conferences and has published technical papers on micromolding and microassembly. She has been named on lists such as 100 Notable People in Medical Devices in 2008 by Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry and the Rising Star award at Corning Life Sciences Inc.
Additionally, Bibber is a member of associations such as the Society of Plastics Engineers, Society for Biomaterials, Medical Alley Association and SME.
A graduate of University of Massachusetts Lowell with a bachelor's degree in plastics engineering, Bibber is involved with business development, corporate leadership and miniaturization subject matter expertise.
"Without knowing it, I understand there were supposed to be boundaries and barriers to moving up the ladder. I guess I never listened to the naysayers and did what I thought I could do," Bibber said. "That, to some, is breaking a mold, but in my mind, it's just doing my job and giving back by speaking and educating people on what is possible in miniaturized devices."
Bibber said her true passion lies in solving customers' engineering, design and manufacturing problems.
"Brainstorming ideas to create intellectual property value," she said, "is where I see the next decade of my career."
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Bibber: [Being a] single mother to my two daughters, Erin, 27, and Carly, 25. A doctor and a nurse and both compassionate, smart, and caring individuals. This, coupled with running my own engineering business and being a partner in multiple other businesses.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Bibber: I've been a CEO of my own company since 2006. The first thing I did was to work with my team on a shared vision and brand for the company. I read the book Traction, which provided team structure, vision, mission, organized priorities, and set financial and tangible goals for company success. A difficult thing to do for a startup, but so important to take the time to plan out a business plan before executing it.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Bibber: My dad taught me that if you want something done, give it to the busiest person. He also said there are two ways to be noticed, and one way was coming in early/leaving after the boss and working hard. The second way to be noticed was to do less than expected and work fewer hours than your boss. Which way do you want to be noticed? He is still giving me advice today at age 87.