Confidence is key in a successful career
Interview with Jennifer Blanchette, director of manufacturing at our Round Lake, Ill. drug delivery manufacturing plant and member of Putman Media's 2020 class of Influential Women in Manufacturing
Q: What is your current role at Baxter?
Jennifer: I'm the director of manufacturing at our Round Lake drug delivery manufacturing plant.
Q: How long have you been with Baxter?
Jennifer: I've been with Baxter since 2001 and have held a variety of different roles. I started as a senior engineer in our Technical Center, moved to the Quality team within one of our global business units, and spent time in our corporate strategic manufacturing group. Ultimately, I've found that I like working within a manufacturing facility best.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working in manufacturing?
Jennifer: The clear and quick results. A lot of manufacturing requires on-the-fly problem solving, and you can often see instantly how a decision changes something. Because we work in a highly regulated and results-driven environment, it's relatively easy to know when you’re successful and when you’re not. I like being able to walk out of work knowing whether I had a good day – and if I didn't, that I can do something different the next day to fix it.
Q: What brought you to the healthcare industry?
Jennifer: Prior to Baxter, I worked for a company that supported oil refineries. At the time, this position didn't fit with my lifestyle. I began searching through different industries, and healthcare completely intrigued me. There are a lot of women in this industry, and the work Baxter does is important. It is fulfilling at the end of the day to think 'Wow, what I just created is going to potentially help save someone's life.'
Q: What does being a member of Putman Media’s 2020 class of Influential Women in Manufacturing mean to you?
Jennifer: It's empowering. This is a huge accomplishment for me. I know that I can look back at my career and think ‘I did the right thing; I did something meaningful which drove results.' It’s also motivation to continue to encourage other women in manufacturing.
Q: Looking back at your career thus far, is there a piece of advice that stands out to you?
Jennifer: A Baxter mentor of mine gave a lot of great feedback and taught me to think about my future. She asked questions I hadn't thought through before, like, 'Do I want to travel? Do I want to move to a different area? Where do I want to be in five years? In ten years?' She gave me a lot of confidence and helped me think about how I could do my job and other jobs better. I now look toward my future in a more strategic way, which I had never done before.
Q: How do you think you have influenced other women in manufacturing?
Jennifer: As a mentor, one of the things I emphasize is confidence – you know the material, be the expert. I also advise on the importance of trying new roles, even if you didn't accomplish everything you thought you might in your current one. There will always be more work to do in a job, but it's critical to take on new challenges to broaden your building blocks of knowledge.