Katie Barry, Marion Manufacturing
From making pizza to earning a master’s degree
It may have taken Katie Barry a little while to figure out her path – a path ultimately leading her to progressive metal-stamping company Marion Manufacturing in Cheshire. But she’s found her calling in manufacturing, and it has helped guide her course in graduate education, as well.
Barry had been working at a pizza place, she said, when a roommate told her an operator position was available at Marion. She wasn’t seeing much room for growth in the restaurant industry and had been keeping an eye out for something else.
That something else was manufacturing; she found the capacity to move up that she had been seeking.
“I worked very hard and did very well,” as an operator, said Barry, “then I was given the opportunity to move into a quality-inspector role. Then came an opportunity for someone to supervise shipping and receiving.”
With 24 employees, three in her department, cross-training is part of the company’s culture. Having been there for five years now, she is one of eight women at Marion. The company prioritizes making opportunities available internally when at all possible, she said.
Katie Berry is one of eight women at Cheshire-based Marion Manufacturing. Photo by RJ Larussa
Title: Quality manager
Company: Marion Manufacturing, Cheshire
Makes her smarter than most horror movie characters: She is terrified of walking into a basement by herself.
Having earned associate’s and bachelor’s degrees – both in general studies – she’s working on her master’s degree in technical management from Southern Connecticut State University. The work Barry has done at Marion has helped not only clarify her educational goals but broaden her skill set.
“Every day is different. You really have to be adaptable,” she said. “You have to be conscientious about your surroundings for safety and product-quality reasons. It’s also a lot of basically showing up, doing your job and using a lot of common sense,” boosted by mutual accountability within the team, she said.
As for the stigma that manufacturing means working in dirty factories or is just for men, that couldn’t be further from the truth these days, Barry said. She urges women to be open minded, educate themselves and go see local manufacturing facilities and opportunities they may offer, including training.
“Women have a different skill set,” she said. “It’s all about advocating for yourself.” ◾