A special two-fer! This episode of The Women of American Manufacturing was a blast to record because I got to learn (and share!) the stories and perspectives of not one but TWO impressive women in American manufacturing. Annika Cederblad and Alex Troesch work at Fulcrum, a provider of manufacturing ERP solutions known as “better technology for a new generation of production.” They both made the transition from careers in retail into manufacturing technology, and because of this, they bring a refreshingly different approach to their work. For them, it’s about imagining and building what manufacturers never thought possible and driving change in the manufacturing industry.
It’s difficult not to feel their excitement through your headphones. If you want to follow up with either Alex or Annika, you can connect with them on Linkedin. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation, which I hope you get the chance to listen to and enjoy!
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Why Alex and Annika are two women in American manufacturing worth knowing
They both took big chances on themselves by leaving careers in a different industry to give manufacturing technology a try. They put aside their doubts and fears and went for it. They are all the better for taking that risk, proving that gambling on themselves was a smart bet. They’ve made a huge impact already for their customers at Fulcrum, and have only just begun.
Additionally, they are true problem solvers driving change in manufacturing– these women really do talk the talk and walk the walk. They’re actively working to remove biases in the industry that have prevented the scale of progress that’s needed. Their mindset is problems and solutions-oriented. Rather than looking at existing solutions and how to retrofit them for customers, they dream up things that don’t yet exist and then go build and implement them.
A surprising thing that came out of the conversation
Reducing ship speed by 20% would be the equivalent of removing 1 million cars from the road every year. WOW!
Key Takeaway: The Manufacturing Industry Needs to Think Big
The automobile was not an incremental improvement over the horse and buggy. They changed the whole game and made humans rethink what was possible for transportation. Cars literally opened up more of the world to us. This analogy applies today to the manufacturing industry: incremental improvements aren’t going to make the impact the manufacturing industry needs. With that in mind, Fulcrum is not just trying to be the best ERP; they are trying to improve the entire industry. Ultimately, their goal is to make manufacturing more connected so it can become more efficient. The impact will be on the entire value chain.
One of the challenges in this big vision is that they have to evangelize the bigger ideas of what IS possible to help manufacturers see beyond the small improvements they might request or look for in their current technologies. This is a challenge because the manufacturing industry has been sold many empty promises over the years. Getting people to think bigger picture and believe it’s possible is a constant work in progress, but an exciting one once you can achieve it, even in small doses.
Favorite Answer From Rapid Fire Questions
Message to cat people: you should close your computer when you leave it so your cat doesn’t send awkward gibberish messages to your colleagues and customers
-Lindsey Athanasiou, VP of Strategic Relationships at Paperless Parts