Jillian Nardi started at custom injection molder and contract manufacturer Tessy Plastics Corp. as an overnight operator. While working her shift, she would often watch the process technicians troubleshoot and fix issues. That inspired her to apply for Tessy's processing apprenticeship program.
Nardi was accepted, which she calls her greatest achievement, and spent the following years "learning and honing skills that would eventually not only apply to processing but cell management as well."
Now, as cell manager for Tessy in Elbridge, N.Y., Nardi plans, directs and coordinates the day-to-day manufacturing process in the cell. "As a process technician, I am also responsible for producing quality parts," she said.
The coronavirus pandemic presented many challenges for Nardi.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, no one knew if Tessy would remain essential. Everyone — including myself — was worried about losing their jobs. It was a stressful time filled with what-ifs," she said.
Nardi said the pandemic showed that the saying that all humans are inherently selfish is untrue.
"Professionally, I witnessed Tessy as a whole come together, day in and day out, to launch a new program," she said.
Tessy gave $2,000 to each of its 1,000 employees to assist with financial impacts of the pandemic.
"Personally, I realized just how important family is," Nardi said, "[and] how important it is to forgive the past and to look forward to the future."
Before she joined Tessy, Nardi said, she stayed at an "unrewarding job" for too long, which taught her "value my time and effort."
Nardi was recently selected for a promotion to managing director at one of Tessy's six New York-based plants.
"Working in a predominantly male industry," she said, "I have spent my time at Tessy Plastics holding myself to the highest standard while developing my knowledge and skills."
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Nardi: Delegation has been the most challenging part of my management career. Having to take a step back and allowing others to help has shown me that teamwork is the key to a successful and more efficient cell.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Nardi: I would meet with all of the department managers to get a better understanding of their roles and how they affect the business.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Nardi: My mother has been a true inspiration to me professionally and personally. My father passed when I was young. My mother raised five children by herself while working a full-time job. She instilled a strong work ethic in all of her children while being a warm, compassionate and supportive person.