Comtran Cable recently publicized the fact that women in sales, marketing, engineering and materials roles represent 42 percent of the company’s non-manufacturing staff. “This is well above average for wholesale and manufacturing industries,” the company pointed out. “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 women comprised about 14 percent of engineering, 26 percent of sales, and 44 percent of purchasing in similar occupations. The good news is that these numbers are significantly higher than 20 years ago.”
The company added that executives did not specifically set out to hire women, but are seeing the positive impact of the hiring decisions they have made. “In every case we hired the most qualified person,” said Joe Barry, general manager. “As luck would have it, we ended up with our own dream team of talented women … and the company is doing better than ever.”
“Being the only woman at the table can have its challenges, but times are changing,” Comtran Cable stated. “More and more, women are considered equals.”
Comtran’s Women in Wire Dream Team (left to right): Donna Fitzgerald, Danielle Braley, Tracey Pajala, Kristen Davenport, Kathy Beaudoin, Karen Credit, Brianna Cote, Paulette Blagburn.
In a statement, Comtran detailed the professional backgrounds as well as current responsibilities and achievements of several women in its employ.
Paulette Blagburn spends her workdays at the R&D bench, solving cable design problems and creating new products. Karen Credit manages purchasing, planning and inventory control. Kathy Beaudoin leads the sales team in landing new accounts and closing deals in a highly competitive market. “These three are part of a group of women playing key roles at Comtran,” the company said. “Their presence in the largely male-dominated cable world is part of a ‘dream team’ credited with Comtran’s ongoing growth and success.”
Their career paths are as varied as their current jobs, the company added. Some are just beginning their careers; others are 20-year veterans of wire and cable. “I was entrepreneurial from the time I could count change and work my grandparents’ vegetable stand,” recalled Danielle Braley, Comtran’s Midwest regional sales manager. “I started at Draka working for the VP of engineering 20 years ago, and rose up through the ranks. I was fortunate to have some amazing mentors along the way.”
Paulette Blagburn, product design engineer, has been at Comtran for one year. She works primarily on new and existing fire-resistive and rail-transit specialty cable products. She acknowledges that when she was in high school, girls were not encouraged to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers the way they are today. Blagburn was drawn to electronics when she started installing and terminating networks for the City of Woonsocket, RI. She said she has not encountered discrimination in her career, and also credits male mentors for contributing to her success. On the topic of job satisfaction at Comtran, Blagburn commented, “My products contribute to saving lives. How awesome is that?”
Tracy Pajala, inside sales account manager, shared her perspective on how to thrive when colleagues primarily are men: “Being a woman, you tend to get more attention focused on you in a male-dominated industry. The challenge is keeping that attention positive and professional. Having a good sense of humor and note being easily offended helps immensely.”
Other women on Comtran’s team include Kristen Davenport, inside sales account manager and Brianna Cote, marketing coordinator. Davenport’s clients benefit from her degrees in Economics and Marketing, which help her position and market Comtran products to meet current economics of the cable industry. Cote joined Comtran 3.5 years ago after earning her Marketing degree. As a millennial, she is fluent in social media and digital marketing, which have helped Comtran gain industry exposure and qualified leads.