Paloma Barraza: 2018 STEP Ahead Honoree

The Manufacturing Institute announced this year’s STEP Ahead Awards on March 1st. These awards recognize 100 female leaders who positively impact the manufacturing industry, including their contributions to technology and process improvements and their commitment to inspiring future female manufacturers.

The 2018 STEP Ahead honorees included two leaders from Jabil: Paloma Barraza and Clare Dowdalls.

Paloma Barraza, site controller at Jabil Chihuahua, has been instrumental in major transformations at the facility while simultaneously inspiring those around her. In Chihuahua, Paloma has created an open environment for her employees to share ideas, demonstrating both her passion to help others and her strong leadership capabilities. “Paloma sees the value of every employee,” said Director of Operations, Simon Wilcox. “She leverages the strengths of everyone on her team to lead the entire site to be efficient and successful.”

Passionate about creating positive change, Paloma works cross-functionally and patiently listens to employees at every level, and from any department, to best understand the problem at hand and how to most efficiently solve it. She’s dedicated to inspiring those around her to take on challenges and find innovative ways to create new processes. Leading by example, Paloma organizes brainstorming meetings with multiple levels of employees to foster a creative environment for everyone. “Paloma has a true passion for change and takes aggressive strides to positively impact the culture at the Chihuahua site to increase employee engagement and productivity,” Wilcox said.

Mentoring her employees is a top priority, and her passion to inspire others also extends into the community. As an active member of Jabil Chihuahua’s social responsibility committee, Paloma spearheaded a school supply donation drive and coordinated delivery of the items to children living in the outskirts of the city. It’s also important for her to take care of her Jabil family, so she created a program to reward employees’ children who achieved exceptional grades in school with prizes, motivating them to continue the hard work.

Congratulations, Paloma, and thank you for all you do to inspire our employees and the community!

Clare Dowdalls: 2018 STEP Ahead Honoree

On March 1st, the Manufacturing Institute announced the 2018 STEP Ahead Awards, which included two honorees from Jabil. Each year the STEP Ahead program recognizes women across manufacturing who are bringing positive change to the industry. One of the Jabil Joules recognized for her commitment to inspiring other females in the field is Clare Dowdalls.

As General Manager, Clare has enjoyed a diverse career with Jabil,  who started at the company in 1995 as a shop floor operator. Fast forward 23 years, she’s now a respected leader, working on the cutting edge of a new product incubation at Jabil’s Great Oaks facility in San Jose, located in California’s Silicon Valley. Over the years, Clare found her passion lies with attracting, developing and maintaining a strong talent pool within Jabil, making it a top priority, as a leader.

Aligning her work with the Jabil Joules’ focus areas of Mentor and Connect, Clare has led by example over the years and used each new responsibility as a way to make positive change. “Clare has made it her personal goal to help advance the careers of her team members,” Vice President of Operations for the Americas, Roger Shahnazarian, said. “Her journey to leadership and her infectious energy has inspired many of her employees to grow and be successful – they see her as a pioneer of change, saying ‘She did it, and so can I!’” Under Clare’s guidance, employees like Luis Macias – who progressed from the warehouse supervisor to a business unit manager – and Janeth Zapata – who went from working on the shop floor to a planning manager – have reaped the rewards of Clare’s strong leadership.

Mentoring her team to be the best version of themselves, Clare demonstrates the importance of building up others, so her entire team, department, plant and the company, can be successful together. “Clare’s improvements to the processes and employee environment has greatly increased productivity on both the manufacturing floor and supporting departments,” Shahnazarian said.

Her desire to connect and inspire others is not only limited to the work environment but also is exemplified in her work in the community. Clare regularly volunteers at local homeless shelters, adopts underprivileged families around the holiday season and supports a local alcohol awareness project to provide counseling services to those in need. Giving back to those around her is what makes her stand out as a wonderful leader and an inspiring Joule.

Congratulations, Clare, and thank you for being an inspiration to Joules around the world!

Jabil’s 2018 STEP Ahead Honorees Announced

From: Beth Walters, Senior Vice President of Communications & Investor Relations 

Today the Manufacturing Institute announced the 2018 STEP Ahead winners, and Jabil has once again snagged two honorees, the maximum allowed per company: Clare Dowdalls and Paloma Barraza. 

Every year, I’m always amazed by the inspiring women at Jabil who are redefining the manufacturing industry and making a positive impact. It’s such an honor to know these are my peers. They are true role models for our younger employees to look up to, which gives me immense hope for our next generation of female talent 

This is Jabil’s 4th year participating in the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead recognition program. Each year we see incredible women being nominated by our leadership and this year is no different.    

The 2018 honorees and nominees were recognized for their commitment to ingenuity at work, mentoring and compassion for their communities. They are truly inspirational. Clare is Senior Director of Operations in San Jose and began her career at Jabil as a shop floor operator. She accepted any challenge thrown her way, using her wealth of knowledge and experience to work her way up and empower those around her. Paloma, Jabil’s other honoree, is a Site Controller at our Chihuahua facility, who created an open environment for her employees, fostering innovation and collaboration to help the entire team be successful. Watch for complete profiles of these two inspiring ladies on the Jabil Joules blog.

 also want to congratulate the other eight nominees for their dedication to integrity, ingenuity and inspiration to others – we appreciate all you have done for our employees and customers! believe Jabil, and the greater manufacturing field, are in good hands with inspiring employees such as the 2018 STEP Ahead class:  

Ande Johnson, Senior Director of IT at St. Petersburg Corporate 

Anna Cybulska, Environmental Health and Safety Manager at Kwidzyn 

Csilla Varro, Senior Lean Coach at Tiszaújváros 

Meiyu Lin, Planning Supervisor at Taichung Tooling 

Qing Zhou, Regional Logistics Manager at Shanghai  

Zanariah Nordin, Senior Line Manager at Penang 

Andrea Wolf, Communications Manager at St. Petersburg Corporate 

Nancy Chang, Specialist at Taichung Tooling 


About the Awards  

The Manufacturing Institute created the Science, Technology, Engineering and Production (STEP) Ahead initiative in 2012 to shine a light on women who were positively impacting the field of manufacturing. Nominated by a company’s leadership, these females are recognized for both their success in the manufacturing field and for being an encouraging force for future female talent. There are two categories of awards: STEP Ahead Honorees who are recognized for their leadership in the industry and Emerging Leaders who are in their 30s and have demonstrated extraordinary accomplishments early in their careers. Since the inception of the program, more than 600 women have been honored as the Manufacturing Institute builds a coalition of leaders.  

Heather Reflects on International Day of Women and Girls in Science

International Day of Women and Girls in Science was declared by the United Nations as a day to recognize the role females play in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Held on February 11th of each year, this day showcases women’s accomplishments in these industries in the hopes of inspiring youth and reaching the United Nations’ goal of gender equality across all industries by 2030.

According to a study the United Nations conducted in 14 countries, the probability of women graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in a science-related field is only 18% whereas males are almost 40% likely (UN, 2018). Why are women less likely to go earn a degree in a science-related field?


Heather Andrus, Managing Director of Radius and Jabil Joule located at our Silicon Valley site, believes it might have to do with the way these courses are taught in primary school. “I believe our children’s education is a crucial resource for inspiring the young girls to have an interest in science or mathematics,” said Andrus. She goes on to explain how her middle school math teacher played a key role in her passion for STEM. “I think his style of teaching is what resonated with me the most. He would make us think creatively and collaboratively to solve these tough equations, and those skills are what every job in STEM requires,” she said. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! “Right now, my oldest daughter is in middle school and her favorite instructor is her math teacher,” Heather says proudly. “She tells me that he also teaches her class to think abstractly rather than just memorize formulas and reproduce them. He gives the class an ‘unsolvable equation’ and works with them to find different ways to solve it.”

One of Two Females in Class

Heather decided to be an engineer during her school’s annual Career Day. As a 7th grader, she read how engineers were one of three high-salaried careers at the time, electrical engineering was the toughest specification and MIT was the best school, so she decided right then that was going to be her career path. However, it wasn’t a popular goal for many of her classmates: “I just don’t think it was ‘cool’ to like math or science in middle and high school,” Heather stated. She goes on to explain how she was one of only two women in her undergraduate engineering class of 70 students. Heather graduated from MIT with bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and then went on to earn a dual master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design from Stanford.

It’s Biology

“Females are clearly just as capable, but I think there’s a disconnect between girls’ natural abilities and the careers they’re told they can have.” Heather reaffirms the importance of making it known at an early age how the STEM industry is an imaginative and abstract field of study. “It also has a lot to do with how the female brain is wired because research shows how our brains work in a more creative way compared to the male brain,” Heather said. “Personally, I think math and science just aren’t typically taught in congruence with how the female brain operates. We need to get the creative juices flowing early in life and show girls how ‘cool’ STEM can be!”

Inspire and Educate

Heather, like many of our Joules around the world, recognize the importance of education for the future of girls in STEM. It’s up to us, not only on International Day of Women and Girls in Science, but every day, to inspire and connect future Joules, so they too can be successful and confident in their science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

Awo Embodies the Spirit of STEM

Born and raised in Accra, Ghana on the coast of West Africa, Awo Brenya moved to the United States to attend college, where she acquired a diverse and complex educational background. Along with dual bachelor’s degrees in computer science and statistics, she also earned two master’s degrees – one in International Business and the second in Information and Telecommunications Systems. It was her education that provided her the perfect niche of skills to be successful as Jabil’s Finance and IT Controls Associate.  “I have the chance to be in two focus areas of STEM – finance and technology – and it’s really exciting to see how the two work together,” Awo said.

Prior to her position here at Jabil, she worked as an Information Technology Auditor for a steel manufacturing company where she applied what she learned in school and began shaping her future career. “It was at this point I started to hone my technical and business skills and see how the two can be combined into one field,” Awo said.

She joined Jabil’s Finance department one year ago when her unique analytical knowledge made her the best candidate for the position. Awo attributes her success to the mentors she had along her journey who guided her through the vast career options and helped her see how to join her two educational paths into one career field. “My mentors showed me how to perfectly combine my degrees and work experience into a career I hadn’t even known was possible,” Awo said. She says it takes a lot of mentoring, coaching and research to find the best career, but it’s worth it in the end!