Conexus team member utilizes leadership skills to elevate female manufacturers

Conexus Indiana’s Senior Director of Industry Engagement, Sonya Snellenberger, spends her days supporting and working alongside Indiana’s top advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML) leaders. Through her role, she sees firsthand the immeasurable contributions of the women in manufacturing who make up 30% of the industry. That’s why she’s taking on an additional leadership role – one that will allow her to support this essential community … a community she’s uniquely positioned to be a part of.

As a first-generation college student who comes from a family of manufacturing, logistics and construction professionals, Sonya wasn’t sure what exactly she wanted to do for a career, but she eventually found her knack in organizational communication and leadership.

Before joining Conexus, Sonya worked in economic development in Fort Wayne, where she found that she had a similar affinity for the AML industry that her family shared. What prompted her move to Conexus Indiana was the prospect of expanding her reach to a state level.

In her current and previous roles, Sonya has met with hundreds of companies within the AML industry and has had the opportunity to gather with industry leaders and walk plant floors – meeting women at all stages of their careers. Seeing the impact of these women up close and personal has reinforced to her why it’s so important to have women in any industry, and why women in the manufacturing industry should get the support and accolades they deserve.

This passion and drive drove her to be a trailblazer for the next generation of female manufacturers by leading the revival of the Women in Manufacturing Indiana chapter. Sonya now serves as chair of the Women in Manufacturing Indiana Chapter and serves on the leadership member team along with five other women.

“I have the space in my role to offer structure to the chapter and give some professional and personal time to this cause and to women across the industry.”

Women in Manufacturing (WiM) is a national organization dedicated to providing support to women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry through year-round virtual learning, virtual career fairs, executive networking groups, meetings and conferences and professional development programs at the local and national level. In general, the organization’s professional and technical development programs are commonplace with training on AI, cybersecurity, etc. and networking opportunities.

“The chapter is in its relaunch phase and as we do so we are making sure local members are connected to resources from the national chapter – things like a ‘Moms in Manufacturing’ employee resource group where moms in manufacturing can connect about challenges and opportunities. There is also a production line program to support women who are working as  front-line workers and have unique opportunities in that role.”

During the Indiana chapter’s first in-person meeting in early February, Sonya and the other leadership members settled on their three core values for their strategy:

  • Connect: discovering resources and best practices to gain a better understanding of the manufacturing industry around the state and nationwide
    • Educate: focusing on members’ continued development through the WiM network
    • Celebrate: finding opportunities to celebrate the successes of WiM members

    These values will help guide the future of the chapter and send a clear message about their focus to members and prospective members. The leadership members also are planning various events such as networking opportunities, plant tours and a couple of virtual meetings. Additionally, they are planning an event where prospective members can meet with the leadership team in late March.

    Sonya and her fellow leadership members have a long, active road ahead of them for WiM’s Indiana chapter, but with their shared experiences and steadfast resolve, the chapter has an exciting future.

    Just as she was inspired to pursue her career in manufacturing, Sonya has made it her mission to serve as an inspiration and a catalyst for other women in the field. Through her tireless efforts in collaborating with AML professionals to advance the industry throughout the state, she is well-versed in what it takes to provide a spark from the individual and organizational levels.