The STEP Ahead award was established to honor the best of the best female leaders in the manufacturing industry and arm them with the tools to pay it forward and inspire, engage, and mentor the next generation.
“The STEP Ahead awards are another way for women to showcase what we bring to the table in STEM and especially manufacturing,” Wilson says. “There is simply not enough female talent joining our industry, and I hope recognitions such as these can encourage the next generation of female leaders to choose manufacturing.”
Joining Morrison in 2011, Wilson brought a background rooted in manufacturing. She enjoyed a distinguished 25-year career at Ford Motor Co., holding a variety of positions in marketing and sales and new business development. Joining her family at Morrison allowed her to capitalize on her ingenuity and problem-solving knack to grow the company responsibly and find inventive ways to empower women in the field.
With the awards launched by the Manufacturing Institute, the group attributes the building of the STEP initiative to a need to support women in STEM production careers. The institute believes the awards can contribute a solution to the workforce crisis while advancing women in manufacturing, who currently account for only 29 percent of the workforce.
The group acknowledges that closing the gender gap can close the skills gap, which is a theme of Wilson’s work. Education is Wilson’s passion and it shows in her commitment outside of Morrison, within industry groups such as PMMI where she is Chair of the Future Workforce Committee; and with the local South Suburban Chicago initiatives she serves. As a member of the Calumet Manufacturing Industry Sector Partnership and board member of the Southland Development Authority, Wilson merges her passion for education and building future leaders, working within the local community to seek ways to provide skilled jobs and economic opportunity.
“As business owners and leaders, we must have a commitment to our local communities, seeking ways to improve our future workforce and leave our community better than we found it,” Wilson said. “Through education, we can combat the workforce crisis and our current political state, and by advancing women in manufacturing, we’re building an important foundation to close these gaps.”
The commitment is an important one to Morrison, being a member of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, certifying the company is owned, operated, and controlled by a woman. Additionally, Wilson brings diversity initiative experience from Ford Motor Company to her service on the Executive Council of PMMI’s Packaging and Processing Women’s Leadership Network.
Cementing her commitment to education in the industry, Wilson and her husband, Morrison’s President Nick Wilson, played a large role in the secondary education level at Purdue University Northwest, working to create and support the nation’s first mechatronics program. She retains the passionate commitment today, serving as an active member of Purdue Northwest Chancellor’s Advisory Board and on the College of Technology Dean’s Advisory Committee.
“By supporting local educational systems, we meet students right where they want to be, learning, growing and seeking new opportunities,” Wilson says. “At Morrison, we are incredibly proud of our work to create a bridge to manufacturing jobs and education.”
When asked by STEP Ahead why she loves manufacturing, Wilson replied, “Who doesn't like to build things? Especially things that don't already exist. We have the opportunity to design and manufacture custom equipment every day to meet the specific needs of our customers, all while providing enriching, well-paying jobs in our community!”