Martha Steele- Program Manager

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Martha Steele is a Program Manager for Electromotive Diesels, and has been with EMD for almost 25 years. She majored in Industrial Engineering at Purdue University and has a MBA from Northwestern University. She works daily with both technology and people to get EMD’s programs and orders completed.
Explain a bit about your job. What do you do every day?
I’m a Program Manager for Electromotive Diesels (EMD). EMD produces locomotives and large diesel engines for oil tankers, drill rigs and back-up power for large buildings like the Sears Tower. This is the part of the business I work in. I enter orders for engines and all their associated parts into our computer system and make sure everyone does what they are supposed to do to get the order produced accurately and on time.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Well, in middle school I wanted to be a backup singer. Then in high school and in college I decided to major in Engineering. I guess reality caught up to me, and I knew I would have to make more money to sustain a family than what I’d get from backup singing.
What made you decide to become an Engineer?
I was good at math, I guess, and I enjoyed it. Plus, my family had been very involved with Purdue University, and Purdue has a great Engineering school. When you were good at math, usually engineering was what you majored in. There weren’t a lot of female engineers at the time, so that made it a fun challenge too.
What is the most interesting or enjoyable part about your job?
I like all of the different people that I get to interact with during the day. And every day is different- different orders, different problems, different situations- you never get bored. One of the nice things about EMD is that you can work many different jobs while still remaining at the same company and the same location. I’ve been a Production Supervisor, an Industrial Engineer, Material Manager, Marketing Manager, Financial Analyst, and now a Program Manager, and we’ve never had to move! It’s like getting a whole bunch of different jobs while staying with the same people at the same place. It’s nice.
Is there anything particularly not enjoyable about your job?
The commute isn’t fun. I drive about 45 to 60 minutes both ways, depending on the traffic. I work in LaGrange, which is about 25 miles away from where I live, and it’s very tedious to drive for such a long time to and from work. It can get pretty boring at times.
What piece of advice would you give to a person just entering this field of work?
Be flexible. Your career path can take many twists and turns, so be open minded about what you want to do. Make sure you see all of the opportunities that lie ahead. Don’t say to yourself, “Oh, well, I’m an engineer, so all I’m going to do is engineer widgets!” Make sure you’re open to different jobs in your occupational field, and sometimes out of your field, too.





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