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Ashley Thompson

Ashley Thompson, process engineer at BASF in Chattanooga, was recognized as an Emerging Leader in the industry through The Manufacturing Institute’s 2017 STEP Ahead Awards.

Focusing on science, technology, engineering and production (STEP), the program honored 130 women nationally for their advocacy, mentorship, engagement and leadership in the industry. Of those recognized, only 30 women were given the prestigious designation of Emerging Leaders.

As the national sponsor of the STEP Ahead initiative, BASF collaborates with The Manufacturing Institute on the grassroots movement of manufacturers dedicated to overcoming the shared challenges facing young women in manufacturing today. This initiative promotes the role of women in the industry, provides mentoring, and leads research on the topic.

“Women bring a great deal of value to the industry – they are natural leaders in ways that build purpose, inclusion, and confidence,” said Heidi Alderman, STEP Ahead Chair and Senior Vice President Intermediates North America, BASF. “The future of the industry relies on the deliberate and intentional increase of female leaders, and BASF is a strong advocate for advancing women in the realm of manufacturing.”

Three additional BASF employees, Debbie Dalley, Site Director in Beaumont, Texas, Laura Fisher, Reliability Engineer in Freeport, Texas, and Regina Molisee, Quality and Continuous Improvement Manager at BASF in Attapulgus, Georgia, were recognized during the ceremony.

STEP Ahead honorees across the U.S. have pledged to promote the importance of women in manufacturing. The Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte, and APICS conducted a survey that found that the award honorees impacted more than 300,000 individuals – from peers in the industry to school age children – over the last five years.

The study also found that, compared to others, STEP Ahead honorees and Emerging Leaders are promoted more often, have a clearer vision of their career path and aspirations, and are committed to encouraging future generations of women to pursue manufacturing careers.

“Through STEP Ahead, hundreds of women from all levels of manufacturing have been recognized for excellence and leadership in their careers. By telling the real stories of these women, girls will be inspired to familiarize themselves with the industry through our mentorship program and eventually become the next manufacturing leaders,” said, AJ Jorgenson, assistant vice president at The Manufacturing Institute. “We are extremely thankful for the support and sponsorship from BASF, and for their tremendous leadership and foresight in the design and execution of STEP Ahead.”

This year, BASF’s Heidi Alderman served as the 2017 STEP Ahead Chairwoman. The company also sponsored the fifth-annual award ceremony, which was held April 20 in Washington, D.C.