Before earning her Ph.D. from Alvernia, Kathleen Nevel had to learn hard fought lessons during a 32-year career in the once male-dominated steel industry. Kathleen Nevel knows a big idea when she sees it. After spending a career successfully leading teams to develop innovative solutions for international specialty metals manufacturer Carpenter Technology, it’s practically second nature for her.
But her success didn’t come without struggles, risks and the drive to excel.
Nevel began her Carpenter career in 1981 after earning a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. It was a period when the plant’s manufacturing operations were very much male dominated, a trend that was commonplace throughout the manufacturing and steel sectors everywhere.
“I pretty much stood out as a female industrial engineer in that setting,” Nevel said. “I think I was the first woman manufacturing supervisor at Carpenter.”
While she occasionally met with some resistance from male employees, Nevel demonstrated leadership skills that were quickly recognized. Her career development path rotated her through various management positions in maintenance, operations planning, technical services and logistics, where she worked to improve business processes, reduce costs and increase productivity.
As she worked and led, Nevel learned more and more about the value of entrepreneurial thinking.
“I learned that you should never be afraid to try something new,” she said. “I had to do a lot of that, especially working in a steel manufacturing business.”