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Meaningful Work
Looking for a Career That Helps You Make a Difference? Take This Engineer’s Advice
Photo Courtesy of Ingevity Corporation.
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Ashley Hauser first became interested in engineering in high school, where a teacher and trusted mentor encouraged her to explore math and engineering through tournaments and other activities. Little did she know, she’d put these skills to use in her career. 

As a production/plant technical manager at Ingevity, Hauser is responsible for a series of technologies and a team of people—from quality assurance analysts and operators to engineers and chemists. But what keeps her at the company is not only the exciting, innovative work, but its socially responsible approach. 

“Ingevity strives to provide products that improve our world through innovations that purify, protect and enhance,” Hauser shared in a recent interview with Fairygodboss. “Safety and sustainability are core values outlined in  The IngeviWay, a cultural credo that defines who we are and why we’re here. We strive to protect and support our employees, the environment and the communities around us.”

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Beyond sustainability efforts, Ingevity is committed to investing in the communities in which its employees work and live, including multiple community initiatives in DeRidder, Louisiana, where Hauser is located. The company also boasts a supportive work environment that Hauser describes as a family. But how did she find fulfilling, community-oriented work? Recently, Hauser shared a look at her career path and the exciting opportunities she’s pursued at Ingevity. She also shared her best advice for women interested in prioritizing sustainability in their careers  — and her top tip for female engineers who want to lead successful careers. 

Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role, how long have you been in this role, and what were you doing previously? 

I have been in my current role for 10 months now. As a production manager, I am responsible for eight reactors and the packaging equipment that support our publication inks and adhesive businesses. I am also the plant technical manager, which makes me responsible for our quality assurance team, plant chemists and our quality systems management. 

Prior to going back into production, I was the plant operations manager for eight years. In that role, I was over the shipping and receiving group, as well as the plant quality systems (ISO, customer satisfaction, continuous improvement). I started out in the plant in production, so I am familiar with the processes and it is great to get back to my roots.

How did you first become interested in a career in engineering? 

I always enjoyed math and science. My high school math teacher was a great mentor and encouraged me to pursue a technical degree. She worked with me on preparing for math tournaments and other science-related activities.

If you had to describe Ingevity’s culture in three words, what would they be and why?

The three words I would use to describe the culture of Ingevity would be family-like, supportive and innovative.  

  • Family-like: Ingevity employees are like a big family. Everyone cares about each other both professionally and on a more personal level.

  • Supportive: Ingevity encourages growth for its employees in their careers and helps to develop skills through training and experiences.

  • Innovative: Ingevity focuses on new product development and works with its customers to drive innovation in the areas that matter most to them. 

How is sustainability built into the culture at Ingevity?

Sustainability is the first part of our “IngeviWay,” which outlines our core values. We strive to protect and support our employees, the environment and communities. Beyond that, though, sustainability is built right into Ingevity. Many of our products are made from renewable raw materials, like crude tall oil and lignin (from pine trees) and hardwood sawdust. Many of those products have environmental benefits in their end applications, too. We have really embraced that as a company, and it’s deeply embedded in all that we do.

Why is this type of work important to the organization, and to you personally? 

I’m mostly proud of our company’s purpose: to improve our world through innovations that purify, protect and enhance. This makes me proud to work for our organization and is a contributing factor to the longevity of our business. Knowing that I’m making products from sustainable raw materials that have environmentally friendly benefits to society is a great feeling.

What projects or initiatives does Ingevity have in place to drive sustainability efforts?

Our sustainability council focuses on four pillars, which are built on a foundation of integrity and ethical behavior: Protecting People and the Environment;  Creating Value for Our Customers and Society; Engaging Our People; and Driving Business Excellence. There is also a team of sustainability ambassadors across the company to help drive initiatives for each pillar throughout the organization. We also just outlined our first set of sustainability goals in our last sustainability report, which was published in August, which will help us to measure our progress in meaningful areas, like greenhouse gas emissions intensity and evaluating the societal benefits of our significant product lines.

Are there any specific causes or organizations that Ingevity contributes to?

Ingevity is heavily involved in the communities around our plants. Our IngeviCares philanthropy program allows us to be a positive influence and support causes that are important to employees. 

We also support keystone initiatives at each site: These are multi-year partnerships with organizations that are located within a specific plant community. The keystone initiative supported by my plant in DeRidder, Louisiana, is the June Jenkins Women’s Shelter, which provides shelter and resources to domestic violence victims. We are also heavily involved in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities at our local schools.

What advice would you give to other career women who are interested in pursuing engineering or getting involved in sustainability efforts?

First, be open to new opportunities to learn and expand your knowledge base. Sometimes, a special project or lateral move can do more for your career and help you grow as an engineer.

To figure out how you can be a part of your company’s sustainability initiative, research the different facets of sustainability—it’s more than just being “green” and environmentally friendly—and figure out how you can contribute in your current role or how you can expand your reach. It is best to get involved in an area that you are passionate about to help that initiative grow and be a positive influence on your life personally and professionally. If your company doesn’t have a sustainability program or plan, maybe it’s a good time to help them realize its role in keeping your company relevant and successful for the foreseeable future!

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