Natalia is the embodiment of the American dream. Her journey from teenage Russian immigrant to successful contract manufacturing company owner is inspiring and enlightening. When you hear her describe her approach to manufacturing, coaching others, and being a business leader, you know immediately that her success has nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with hard work.
Why Natalia is a Woman in American Manufacturing Worth Knowing
Natalia smartly pivoted her university major when she realized that so many of her peers were studying business. Natalia instead studied Industrial and Systems Engineering and made her way into the fastening systems division at one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum. There, she took every opportunity to learn and ask questions, while demonstrating her worth and quickly climbing up the ranks, even managing colleagues who were her parents’ age when she could barely legally drink a beer. Her hard work led to a special phone call from a recruiter looking for someone to take over a machine shop owner’s business.
This reminds me so much of advice given during a recent episode of the podcast– to take every call from a recruiter because you truly never know what could come of a brief conversation. That call led to Natalia purchasing the business she runs today, M&R Engineering, a 70 person precision machine shop in Orange, CA, that is growing quickly thanks to her leadership.
A Surprising Thing That Came From The Conversation
When COVID hit, she bought a robot. This definitely was not the most common reaction to the pandemic among shop owners I’ve spoken to, but it makes sense: she knew that in-shop labor would become harder to guarantee, so she immediately solutioned the issue and adopted an automation tool to augment her team’s availability and ultimately, help protect her employees and the business. Today, the robot has a name (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and the team has embraced the help and support it has provided them on the shop floor.
Key Takeaway: Take Attitude Over Ability Every Day.
Natalia doesn’t really believe in luck. She knows firsthand that anyone who is perceived to be lucky actually puts in an immense amount of work to get where they are. And it’s this set of qualities that she values most in people– taking initiative and putting in the effort. She knows that’s partly why she was able to advance in her career so quickly; it wasn’t her technical knowledge but her daily attitude that supervisors noticed and afforded her more responsibilities because of.
Favorite Rapid Fire Answer
She had an American bulldog named Torque! And, her husband hosts a podcast called “Questions About Everything with Ian Sephton.”
Listen to the full episode