Denisa Peshkatari, Director of Innovation – Air Care, Porex Corp. (part of Filtration Group)
Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology
Denisa Peshkatari is the Director of Innovation for Porex’s Air Care business unit. Porex, a business of Filtration Group, is a custom-engineered porous polymer manufacturer headquartered in Atlanta, GA with facilities in the USA, Germany, Scotland, Malaysia, and China. Denisa has 15 years of experience in engineering and management, beginning in the cement industry and then moving to Porex over seven years ago. An expert in innovating and developing with powder material, Denisa has held various roles in quality and process engineering, quality management, new product introductions, strategic project management and – most recently – innovation.
Talk about the culture of Porex – how is it supportive and inclusive of women in engineering?
I am very proud to work for a company that has placed a lot of confidence in what I can achieve. In my 7+ years at Porex I have had the chance to work in four different roles, and each role has helped me grow and develop my technical and leadership skills. I have always felt respected and included by leadership and my colleagues in whatever decisions need to be made, which has played an important role in shaping my career. I have continuously been assigned to drive very important goals and projects for Porex, which shows me that their support is directly tied to actions. Of our three core cultural values – trust, bias for action, and entrepreneurialism – what I value most in Porex’s culture is the opportunity to be a true entrepreneur. Our entrepreneurial spirit allows me to expand my creativity while also growing my leadership skills and collaborating with diverse global teams.
Describe a recent project (in which you were involved) that went particularly well. How did you and your team go about ensuring success? (obviously without mentioning any customer names or proprietary info).
I helped the team design and develop an innovative and unique component for a groundbreaking solution in the tech industry. We had a tight deadline and a small core team. While our internal development process required intense troubleshooting, testing and multiple iterations, we had to collaborate in parallel with several outside sources of technical expertise to achieve an optimal solution. It was a challenge to keep all the knowledge, communications and learning development organized while allowing the team to focus on development scope. The most rewarding experience was the many impromptu brainstorming sessions we had to go through, which allowed the team members to learn and relay on each other. I think the project would had never been a success if it weren’t for the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of our small core team at Porex.
What first drew you to engineering and this industry?
From a very young age, I helped my older brother to take apart, repair, and alter different devices. Although those efforts were not always successful and often scared my mother to death, it instilled in us the desire to understand how things worked – and often inspired ideas on how to make them work BETTER. We often built our own toys from very simple materials, which pushed us to expand our creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. The memory of that satisfaction that I felt when those ideas became reality is what accompanied me into my later years and drove me toward the engineering field. The more I learned later in life, the more curious I became – and it continued to inspire me to test ideas and become an even better problem solver.
Describe your biggest career challenge – how did you solve it and what was your lesson learned?
I feel I relate to most women in the engineering field when I say that my biggest challenge – especially in my early career – was to be accepted as an equal amid a male-dominated industry. Coming from a different country, I did not have the confidence to speak up with my own ideas and was always worried that I was asking the wrong questions. Many times, I was bullied in a humorous way, and I laughed along and tried to please everyone. As time moved on and I gained experience, I channeled my energy towards deepening my knowledge and learning by doing. This process helped me increase my confidence and helped me become a detailed-oriented professional. As a result, my experience has taught me that it is in the details where the best ideas for solutions originate.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
The best advice I would give to myself is to speak up and to not be afraid to ask questions. Focus on your growth and do not worry what others think of you.
Filed Under: Women in Engineering