7th Annual Step Ahead Awards Recognize Women for Excellence in Manufacturing

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Victoria MacRae-Samuels

7th Annual Step Ahead Awards Recognize Women for Excellence in Manufacturing

Chicago, March 1, 2019 - The Manufacturing Institute announced they will award Victoria MacRae-Samuels, Senior Director, Global Quality at Beam Suntory, with the Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Award. The STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory-floor to the C suite.


“I am honored to receive the 2019 STEP Ahead Award from the Manufacturing Institute, an organization that recognizes the invaluable role of women in business,”


Victoria MacRae-Samuels said. “During my tenure in the spirits industry, I have seen how recruiting that attracts more women to STEP careers has positively impacted the growth of our global business. I am proud and humbled to represent these women – within Beam Suntory and beyond our walls – as a leader in manufacturing.”


The STEP Ahead Awards are part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative, launched to examine and promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research, and leadership for attracting, advancing, and retaining strong female talent. In five years, STEP Ahead Award winners have impacted more than 300,000 individuals—from peers in the industry to school-aged children. Women constitute one of manufacturing’s largest pools of untapped talent. Women totaled 47 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2016, but only 29 percent of the manufacturing workforce. Not only does the STEP Ahead initiative bolster manufacturing’s attractiveness to women, it also plays an important role in improving the perception of careers in the industry among younger generations.


“Women are the single largest pool of untapped potential talent within the manufacturing industry, and we must continue to do everything we can to promote gender diversity within this field,” Keira Lombardo, Chair of STEP Ahead and executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance for Smithfield Foods said. “The STEP Ahead Awards program not only recognizes the incredible women in manufacturing who have an impact on the daily lives of people all over the world, it sends an incredibly powerful message to the next generation of female leaders that the manufacturing industry offers innovative and fulfilling careers in which women can thrive.”


On April 11, The Manufacturing Institute will recognize 130 recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards at a reception in Washington, D.C. The STEP Ahead Awards program will highlight each honoree’s story, including their leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing.


“Providing more opportunities for women in manufacturing is more than just the right thing to do. At a time when manufacturers face a workforce crisis, and with women still constituting less than a third of manufacturing workers, it’s clearly critical to the future of our industry and the economy,” Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute said. “The Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead awards—which provide today’s female leaders in manufacturing the recognition they deserve while simultaneously elevating role models that can inspire future generations to join them—are an important element of our commitment to helping foster a 21st-century manufacturing workforce by developing current leaders and engaging future ones.”

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