Exceptional Women: Ivonne Martinez

This week, in exceptional women, we talked to our funder Ivonne Martinez to learn more about her career. 

Name: Ivonne Martinez 

Job Title: Quality Engineer 

Degree: Manufacturing Engineering

Question: Where are you from? 

Answer: I was born in Mexico City, moved to McAllen, Texas when I was about 11 years old. After college, I moved to Exton PA for work and I been here since then.

Q: What school did you attend? 

A: I graduated from The University of Texas Pan-American, now known as UTRGV

Q: Can you give us a quick rundown of your career?

A: My first professional job was while I was still in school; I worked for a construction firm as a project developer. I had the great privilege to work as a research student at my university under the supervision of Dr. Karen Lozano at PREM (Partnership for Research and Education in Materials Science). I worked on my Black Belt Certification for Lean Six Sigma during my last year of school working at NIBCO as a Quality and Continuous Improvement intern. (I know I had 3 jobs while I was a full-time student, all I can say coffee, lots of coffee)

After graduation, I worked for Oberthur Technologies now called IDEMIA as a Process Engineer. 

3 years later, I move to IFM as a Quality Engineer, where I currently work. 

Q: How and when did you found out that (STEM) was your career to follow?

A: During orientation, 30 min before I sign up for my classes for my first semester of college. Growing up, I was always told that I should be an accountant or economist because I was good in math. (There is nothing wrong with those careers) But because engineering was never presented to me as an option I never thought of becoming one. During orientation, I pass by the engineering school organization booths and there I saw a woman on the other side of the table promoting engineering. She and her team members explained all the things they do as an organization.  One organization build a go-kart, another team created robots one had cool LED displays, another team had a picture of internship at manufacturing plants. At that moment I remember my heart going crazy fast, in my mind I went down my list (what I like and what I am good at) math, fixing things, making things, challenges, solving problems, knowing how things are made… in that moment I decided to change from a finance major to engineering. I fall in love with my career and I have never regretted my decision. I am so happy I choose to be an engineer. 

Q: What aspect of your job is the most challenging?

A: To be heard, or taking seriously. At the beginning of each job, I have found that I have to prove to other people, mainly male colleagues (management, maintenance, other engineers, and operators) that my ideas and troubleshooting solutions are good/correct. I notice this because my opinion or ideas are questioned compared to my male colleagues where they don’t or not as much. But it all goes away after a while. I have learned to always trust my gut, my judgment and to be persistent, just because some else can’t see what I am seeing doesn’t mean I am wrong or that they are wrong we just have two different points of view and that is what makes a team strong.  

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

A: Seeing what I build being use and helping others. It could be a vision system I put in place that is helping the quality of the production of safety shoes that are fashionable! I love seeing what once was an idea on a piece of paper, become something tangible. 

Q: What can you say is the key to your success?

A: Confidence, hard work, and a grateful heart. Having confidence in me was key, and I wish I knew this sooner. I am smarter than I think, stronger than I think, I am capable. I have learned to trust me, to believe in me, to be confident. My ideas are different from everyone else’s and that is OK! That is good because I can see what they can’t. I love what I do and I may not know everything but I am willing to learn and to keep going. Working hard is not hard when you love what you are doing. Being grateful every day. I am grateful to be where I am, to have the ability to create, to help, to solve problems, to work on projects that challenge me, that I get to be surrounded by people from different backgrounds. Sometimes the pressure of the job can be overwhelming but knowing that what I do is helping someone, the company, the people at the production floor, brings me joy and I am thankful I have the opportunity to do that. 

Q: What advice would you give young women who are considering pursuing a STEM career?

A: Do it! Yes, you can! A STEM career is so rewarding, you get to learn so many amazing and interesting things that you see the world in a different way. With imagination, creativity and the skills you learn at school, your possibilities are endless. The hard work pays off at the end.

Q: If you could tell your 15-year-old-self anything, what would it be?

A: Everything will be Ok. Invest in you, in your future and career. Trust in your gut and in your intuition because you are smart and capable. Everything has a solution; you just need to figure it out.