Toha Poveda, Application Engineering Manager – Sensor Products, Dodge Mechanical Power Transmission Company, Inc.
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, M.S. Engineering Management, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Toha Poveda is currently the Application Engineering Manager for Sensor Products at Dodge Mechanical Power Transmission Company, Inc. She has several years of successful experience in providing technical support to Dodge customers. She specializes in smart sensors for mounted bearings, enclosed gearing, and other power transmission products. Poveda is a native of Ecuador and is fluent in Spanish and English. She earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Engineering Management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She started her career with Dodge as a Mechanical Designer and quickly moved into an Application Engineering role on the Bearing and PT Components teams. In this role, she took on the responsibility of supporting the new Dodge Smart Sensor for Mounted Bearings product line. As this product line expanded, she moved into a dedicated support role as the sole engineer for the Sensor Application Engineering team. To be able to assist customers efficiently, Poveda successfully integrated her technical support workflow into the SalesForce.com CRM platform. This is a best-in-class process and is now being integrated into the rest of the engineering teams. She has also received an ABB Above and Beyond Award for her outstanding customer service, and her peers also awarded her with the 2019 Application Engineering Excellence Award.
Talk about the culture at your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women in engineering and automation?
Managers of women engineers play an important role in supporting women professionally and personally in the workplace. It is important for them to understand that we may have personal responsibilities, such as the great joy of being a mother, which are essential aspects of our lives. I can proudly say that I am the mother of three beautiful children and my professional career has not stopped me from being there for them. I have been blessed with managers and a company culture that understand my career and family are important to me. Besides being a key asset to my team, I also have family responsibilities that sometimes become a priority. My managers have always been flexible in their approach and supported me when needed. A company that supports a work-life balance is the key to attract more women engineers in the workplace. It is essential that companies and managers provide the type of environment that allows people to truly meet their professional goals while also being compassionate about personal commitments. It is also important to note that it is not only a company’s responsibility to create a supportive environment for women in engineering, it is also our responsibility to push harder to make our opinions heard.
Describe a recent company project (in which you were involved) that went particularly well. How did you and your team go about ensuring success?
My goal has always been to go above and beyond in providing the best technical support to our customers. I recently implemented a new tool that provides us with the ability to support our customers virtually. These embedded guiding tools are great problem-solvers and create quick resolutions. I learned about this new tool from a webinar that another internal business unit presented. They had been using it successfully with their customers for some time. After the webinar, I took some time to study and test the tool myself and immediately identified other departments in my company that could benefit from it. I started the project by building a diverse, cross-functional team that would help me make the project successful. I engaged the engineer that presented the internal webinar, as I needed her support to allow us to borrow some licenses to test. The team includes application engineers, sales engineers, and solutions architects. During the testing period, we ran into a few issues with the firewall and getting the link set up between our engineers and our customers. I was in constant communication with the team, the appropriate managers, and our network team to ensure we could remove the barriers and test this tool appropriately. It has been such a successful test that we have decided to move forward with the technology and purchase our own licenses. We are deep into the quoting and implementation phase and expect to launch the technology soon. The key to this project was ensuring that we had the right people on the team who bought into the technology and that there were open and frequent lines of communication between all parties involved.
What first drew you to engineering and this industry?
My decision to pursue an engineering degree was really based on three factors. First, I have always had a passion for math. Second, I had a wonderful physics teacher in high school who taught by using interesting hands-on projects. He was a Mechanical Engineer himself. Third, I have always enjoyed investigating how each item in my home worked and enjoyed trying to fix things around the house. When I was eight years old, the computer mice were not digital. Instead of an optical sensor to move the mouse, they had a small ball in the bottom. This was an electromechanical device that was the key component to determining its movements and speed. The mouse broke and I fixed it. I dissembled it and it turned out that the ball was dirty and I cleaned it, and it worked again. This was a simple fix, but it’s something I have always remembered. What captivated me about the power transmission industry is we keep the world moving. Our products touch every single industry, from food processing to unit handling, to aggregate and cement. Our products can be seen in the background of nearly every product out there. Our products are essential to the world!
Describe your biggest career challenge. How did you solve it — or what was the outcome or lesson learned?
My biggest career challenge has been establishing a great relationship with one of my colleagues. Our job responsibilities called for us to work with one another. When I started in the application engineering role and was introduced to him, he would ignore all of my emails. I took this as a personal challenge because I am a strong, capable engineer who happens to be a woman. I would not be intimidated. I continued to give my opinion in meetings and continued to send him emails with customer feedback. With my persistence, we now have a great relationship. We have implemented some awesome features and functionality into the platform. The lesson I learned is to never give up on a professional relationship. Be empathetic to someone else’s situation and flexible to their work style. When you work hard your success speaks for itself without you ever saying a word.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
I remember my first day at engineering school in Ecuador, I walked into the classroom and it was filled with all men. There was only one other woman in the class besides me. All these men looked at me like I was in the wrong place. The very first day they made fun of me and said that I did not even know basic arithmetic. So, I asked them to play a card game that required math. I won the game. They were so impressed they stop criticizing me immediately. As the semester went on, many of them would look to me for help with their homework or to understand some of the lessons. I would tell my younger self that women are capable of anything! And please don’t be afraid to speak up and give your opinion!
Filed Under: Women in Engineering