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For Gina Vasallo, manufacturing isn’t just a job. It’s part of who she is.
Vassallo, Caterpillar’s Engineered Value Chain Program manager at its East Peoria facility, was among the women selected by The Manufacturing Institute for its prestigious Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Award.
Throughout her career at Caterpillar, Vassallo has delivered results that have both generated and saved the material handling equipment maker millions, while ensuring internal and external customers receive high-quality products on time and at cost.
A Key Player at Caterpillar
Vassallo also has designed systems and processes for new facility startups, developed innovative new products and services, and transformed manufacturing and supply chain processes, according to the news release announcing her award.
For the past three years, Vassallo has led Cat’s efforts in talent management and development for the manufacturing and supply chain workforce, helping to develop a pre-employment pipeline to ensure that the company remains competitive.
For her part, Vassallo said the manufacturing is in her heart.
“Manufacturing is the heart of business,” Vassallo said. “Manufacturing fuels the economy, our communities, and our families by providing for today and investing in the future. Manufacturing is where the dreams and ideas of dedicated, talented, hard-working people come to life.”
Women in Manufacturing
The awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers from all levels of manufacturing — from board rooms to production lines, according to Jennifer McNelly, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute.
“We chose to honor these women because they each made significant achievements in manufacturing through positive impact on their company and the industry as a whole,” McNelly said in a news release announcing the list of winners.
STEP stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Production.” The STEP Ahead awards are part of the larger STEP Ahead Initiative, which was launched to promote the role of women in manufacturing through recognition, research, and leadership in order to attract, advance and retain strong female talent in manufacturing.
Shortage of Female Leaders
According to a recent survey conducted by TMI, in conjunction with the consulting firm Deloitte, 80 percent of US manufacturers have a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers. Despite this, less than one-third of the nation’s manufacturing workforce is female.
Vassallo received her undergraduate degree from the University of Akron in 1996, and a Masters of Business Administration from Bradley University, also in Peoria, in 2001, according to her LinkedIn profile.
She has worked at Caterpillar since 1999 in a number of management positions, including factory manager, facility manager, and inventory/systems manager, before assuming her current role in January.
Vassallo and the other 130 recipients will be honored at an awards banquet in Washington, D.C., on April 21.