M. Holland Company has hired and promoted a number of women into account management and key management roles of late, so Samantha Stone didn’t give much thought when she was promoted to become the company’s first female product manager last August. “Although I didn’t focus on being the first woman on the products team, many others did. In my mind, it was just a great opportunity,” Samantha stated. “When the internal announcement went out about my promotion, I received overwhelming support.”

A native of the Akron, Ohio, area, Samantha was always interested in math and science. When she was growing up, Akron was shifting from the rubber capital of the world to the polymers capital. “The new polymer science building at the University of Akron was in the news one morning and my dad said I should consider majoring in polymers. So I decided to take my dad’s advice,” Samantha laughs.

Samantha holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a concentration in Polymer Science and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Akron. She admits her willingness to continue learning has helped her tremendously in her career. “In business I never really thought of myself as a woman in a man’s field. I always just focused on being the best I could be.”

Samantha’s career in the industry began while she was still a student. During her second year of college, she was hired at Americhem, a global leader in color masterbatch for plastics. She held several roles during her 20 years with the organization. She worked full-time, went to school part-time, all while raising her daughter.

“I cannot fully express the importance of working hard and climbing your way through an industry. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge and value gained along the way. The experience gained from product design, quality testing, R&D, leadership positions, international sales, business management and strategic planning have contributed to who I am today.” In Samantha’s view, having cross functional experience is critical to career advancement.

Career Opportunities for Women in the Plastics Industry

Samantha’s boss, Director of Distribution Sourcing Rick Tizzard, says that the plastics industry needs to strive for greater diversity in its management ranks.

The industry has experienced a talent drain for the past two decades and is left with an aging and predominantly male leadership. As we replenish the ranks, it’s vital that we diversify for the industry’s long-term health.

He noted that Samantha brings an arsenal of qualifications to the Product Manager role, including a technical and business education, personal drive and integrity, and a history of successful sales experience. “Sales experience is very important to success in product management,” he says.

Samantha joined M. Holland in November 2009 as an Account Manager in the Cleveland area. She realized she had a big challenge to grow her territory. “Once I learned the value points that M. Holland brings to the table it made it a lot easier to develop a territory.”

She advises anyone who is interested in coming into the plastics industry to come prepared to learn. “Always strive to learn more about your products. Become an expert, it drives confidence.”

Throughout her career, Samantha has been impressed with the industry’s ability to keep up with the changing times. “Right when you think the plastics field is mature and not changing, it reinvents itself due to energy costs, technology or outside market regulations that drive further conversion to plastics.”

With more than 20 years in the plastics industry, one thing she continues to admire about the leadership at M. Holland is its open-mindedness. “What I enjoy most about working at M. Holland is the level of creative freedom given to us. Our company is growing so fast it is like a sculpture that never dries, always being reformed into something greater.”

For more information about working at M. Holland, visit our Careers page for videos, employee perspectives and to apply for an open position.