NEW Opportunities? For some, that could be intimidating, for us at Apex Filling Systems, we were elated!

NEW is actually an acronym for Nontraditional Employment for Women!  LaPorte County Career and Technical Education Center, in partnership with community organizations, graciously hosted the 5th annual N.E.W. Opportunities Workshop. The workshop targets 8th grade female students from middle schools across our county, extending to New Buffalo. This event highlights many careers that aren’t necessarily conventional for females. The goal is to introduce young ladies to the many opportunities that they may not have otherwise considered, or even know was available to them, as they are putting real thought toward their career path.  The NEW Workshop continues to grow and generate interest and enthusiasm in our local schools and communities.

The day began with an approximate 400-500 young ladies from surrounding schools. They had a guest speaker give the instructions and then they were free to choose their destinations via signage above the presenters. The signs indicated the position the young ladies were researching, or interested in knowing more about. There was quite a broad selection which made it even more successful (in my opinion.)  There were 5 scheduled session’s that allowed a presentation with questions/comments to follow. These sessions lasted for 15 minutes and included up to 8 ladies.

Did you know that our company, Apex Filling Systems, is operated by a female CEO? I have the great pleasure of being her Assistant.  With this role, it allows me first-hand managerial experience that is uniquely priceless.  Alicia set the tone for these young ladies! They were engaged and taking notes expressing a genuine interest in the role she was describing.  As Alicia stated, many women would excel in these leadership roles, but historically, we have been under-represented at this level. Fewer than 7% of Fortune 500 companies today are led by women, despite the fact that – according to a recent Harvard Business Review survey; female leaders are rated as equal or better than their male counterparts in almost every core competency, including initiative, integrity, problem solving and communication.

During the presentations, Alicia let the ladies know – if you are interested in becoming a CEO or other high-level executive, there are three main areas of your life you will want to look at: Who You Are, What Relationships You Form and What Experience Can You Bring.  To begin, your success in a leadership position is based on who you are. Many women didn’t see themselves as CEO’s because they never let the possibility of it enter their imagination, or maybe they don’t see themselves such as the business leaders they see on the news or television.  A study conducted by the Korn Ferry Institute focused on 57 female CEO’s and has uncovered a certain set of personality traits that lay the foundation for success.  One of the participants in the survey quoted “As a leader, I did not need to have all of the answers, but in fact, if I surrounded myself with people who were smarter than me in critical areas, we could collectively move our business much further and faster.”

Alicia gave a lot of advice and good structure to her audience. As her assistant, I was honored to hear my boss speak so well of her role, her company, Our company! She displays integrity and honesty while providing a safe environment for us to call work. Just as she does with her own employees, Alicia encouraged the young ladies to tap into what drives them. What encourages them and fuels their inner courage, reminding them to treat everyone they interact with, day in and day out, as someone who could very well come back into your life at some point as an ally. Reminding each of our potential, future leaders, that they are standing at the very beginning! If they thrive on challenges and learn how to lead others, a door will open that could allow them to steer the culture of an entire company, which in turn provides the opportunity of making the lives of others better, and leaving their mark on the world!

Apex at N.E.W. Opportunities WorkshopApex at N.E.W. Opportunities Workshop 2

With 15 years experience in the packaging industry, Darren has traveled the world on jobs of all sizes. He has been working in everything from project management, to sales, to production and has the experience to see the entire process from start to end. Darren steps in for projects to review difficult applications to help come up with solutions that work for every customer. Difficult details are where he excels. Creating a solution built for each customer! Outside of Apex Filling, Darren likes to work on motorcycles, play with fabrication, and spend time working on cars. If you stop by you might even get to see his bike