Jennifer Killingback tells us about her experience within the Additive Manufacturing Industry, and her thoughts on the topic of Women in 3D printing.
What is your background?
My background has been largely in human resources and recruiting within various industries. At times, I have also been responsible for business development and account management within the recruiting industry. My passion is both helping and connecting people.
How did you first come across Additive Manufacturing?
My first exposure to 3D printing was literally finding a “skilled trade” option for my son, who was still in high school and taking CAD classes. At that point, I started my research and found 3D printing distributor of 3D printers here in Michigan. With a little research and a request for a tour, the CEO gladly invited us to his facility for a tour. It was the most fascinating technology that I had ever experienced first-hand. Months later, I began a conversation with another CEO, this time with an OEM of professional grade 3D printers and began my career in additive manufacturing as the Human Resources Manager for North American Operations.
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
Working in AM is like working for a start-up. It’s fast paced, exciting, challenging, ever changing and innovative. You are encouraged to be creative and think outside of the box. Recruiting in AM is a challenge in itself as it is still a relatively new industry and there is not an abundance of educated professionals or skilled labor with previous additive manufacturing experience to fill positions. Networking and building relationships within the community is essential to everyone’s success
Why do you think that there are not so many women involved in AM right now?
It is a still relatively a new field. Positions where I have seen more women involved is in Administration and Marketing. Where we need to see more women is in R&D, Engineering, Sales and Executive Management. I hope that will become reality in the near future.
As Director for America at AD Global, what are responsibilities?
My responsibilities are to further grow our operations here in North America and partner with companies within the AM community on their recruitment efforts. Within AM, we are all aware that procuring qualified talent is currently a challenge that will be further amplified by the growth we are seeing worldwide. OEMs may already be discovering that their employees are not only attractive to other OEMs but also the service bureaus, suppliers and clients. This puts a strain on the talent pool and you must know how to look “outside of the box” when recruiting talent for AM and have defined retention strategies to keep them engaged.
What do you find most interesting about your job in AM?
What motivates you to pursue a career in Additive Manufacturing? Having first hand knowledge of the industry and having sat on the corporate side of the HR desk, I can appreciate the hiring challenges AM is experiencing. As I mentioned before, my passion is both connecting and helping people. This industry is going to continue to grow and I wanted to continue to be a part of it on a much larger scale.
How has your experience been in recruiting women into the AM industry? Have you experienced any challenge(s), and if so what were they?
Identifying and hiring women in AM has not been an issue for me personally. The challenge appears to be in positions outside of Administration and Marketing. For example, if you look at the demographics of female engineers working or studying AM, it is largely overshadowed by males. This can also be influenced by physical location. However, I believe more female engineering students and professionals are being drawn to AM and will be instrumental in the industry’s continued success.
Are there any figures, people, or organisations that you admire within the 3D Printing industry and why?
There are so many great people that I have interacted with throughout the AM community; it would be unfair to pick only a few. From the parts finishers to the CEO’s, each has been passionate about AM technology, the growth of the industry and the future possibilities. To highlight an organisation, I would be inclined to mention EnvisionTEC and their Bioplotter. The medical advancements being researched on that particular line of printers is something that I greatly admire. Most recently, it has begun to find a following within the manufacturing sector, which is equally impressive.
How do you think our community could encourage more women to get into 3D Printing and join the Industry 4.0.
There are several ideas that come to mind. More internships for female engineering and chemist students, creating job training programs for programmers and field technicians and women-based networking meetings at the major trade shows throughout the globe. In states with high demand for talent, work with local government agencies to identify financial resources for training certain positions, similar to other skilled trades programs.
What advice do you have for other women who are curious in learning more about 3D Printing?
Identify and connect with other women already working in 3D printing. Attend major trade shows. Subscribe to industry online and print news outlets. Talk to a AM Recruiter even before you decide to pursue a career in 3D printing. Learn what employers are looking for.
Do you have any hopes for the future of AM/ How would you like to see the industry evolve?
My hope is to see the AM community continue to grow and further evolve into an industry that can compete with other major industries, like Automotive, on a global scale for talent. There are still many that are in early stages of growth and may not be in a position to compete with Automotive in areas such as wages, benefits and paid time off to attract talent, such as Engineers.