For Karolyn Ellingson, Developing Training Solutions is a Passion
Karolyn Ellingson, Head of Industrial Workforce Development at Festo Didactic, solves training problems. “Working with manufacturers to find solutions for improving the capabilities of employees makes me the happiest,” Ellingson said recently. “The right training at the opportune time enables team members to gain new skills and manufacturers to operate more efficiently and effectively.”
Her drive to improve skills comes naturally to Ellingson, a former Spanish teacher. A move from Washington State to Ohio, and the realization that a new place could mean equally new opportunities, led her to seek fresh challenges. She landed a job in workforce development at a community college. “I fell in love with the work,” Ellingson said. “I discovered, much to my surprise, I enjoy working with the people who make things and solve the daily issues of engineering, logistics, procurement, and production.”
When a position opened at Festo Didactic, the workforce development arm of Festo, “I applied,” she said. “And, as they say, the rest is history. Joining Festo Didactic was the best career move I’ve made.” From working in the local community, she went to a global family-owned business and responsibilities for workforce development that encompasses North America.
Ellingson said that in her previous career as a teacher, other than curriculum changing her job remained basically the same. She observed manufacturing is different. “On the manufacturing floor, the technology transforms all the time, as do the employees’ responsibilities,” she said. “Job skills change, and it is my responsibility to find solutions that support this changeability. Not only is technology evolving, but industry has a more diverse workforce in age, gender, and nationality. Festo Didactic develops innovative ways of providing training so that it is accessible, interesting, and vital for today’s workforce. My job is one of the most exciting imaginable.”
Ellingson believes the sky is the limit for jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and has advice for females looking for their own new horizons. “If you are in school, find extracurricular activities in STEM, and gain insights from teachers. Women should do research and meet with potential employers.”
“Do not rule out manufacturing,” she added. “Twenty-first century production is far removed from the misconstrued notion of backbreaking, dirty, and dark places with low pay. Let go of pre-conceived notions and find a career in STEM or manufacturing that is not only rewarding financially, but one where a woman can make a difference. You may find your work-life passion. I have.”