Our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month continues by recognizing members of our Flex family who are of Latin or Hispanic origin and play an important role in helping Flex build great products that improve people’s lives.
Helen Antoniolli is the Plant Manager of our manufacturing plant in Jaguariuna, Brazil. We recently sat down with her to discuss some of the interesting aspects of her job, her career progression and some of the unique responsibilities she encounters in her position.
Tell us about your role as a plant manager in Jaguariuna. What does an average day look like?
Our Jaguariuna facility has the largest number of employees across our sites in Brazil, so each day can look different. I need to make sure our production commitments are tracking and that we have the supply chain support to meet those benchmarks.
In fact, I spend the most amount of time working on supply chain efficiency to ensure we have the correct amount of materials onsite for production. I also have the sourcing responsibility for our Manaus facility, so I work with our team to certify the timing and amounts of subsequent deliveries.
I spend time with our workforce and have the responsibility to ensure the site is safe for all. I also go on weekly Gemba walks on the factory floor. And then there are the management responsibilities for customer satisfaction as well as keeping tabs on the plant’s financial positioning.
Innovation has long been a hallmark of Flex’s operations. How is Jaguariuna implementing Industry 4.0 (I4.0) capabilities?
A large focus of ours in Jaguariuna is Agility-related business in which speed and performance are critical for high volumes to meet customer expectations.
That is why we consistently invest in automation as a way to increase productivity. To make sure we keep pace with I4.0, we upgrade our portfolio twice a year.
We also use a digital manufacturing system to provide real-time information for our largest customers. This actionable data helps us improve ramp up times and shortens their time to market.
Additionally, our biggest customer invested in Jaguariuna to be their central data processing center for their manufacturing worldwide. The project developed a centralized data control tower to compare manufacturing efficiencies.
We had the robust IT system and shop floor controls necessary to validate the data they were seeking and could develop the integration they required. So, we readied our factory floor to integrate their data systems from plants in India, China and other locations across the globe.
You previously mentioned your responsibility as it relates to the other sites in Brazil. Are there other ways these sites support each other?
Our nearby Sorocaba plant has deep expertise in providing circular economy solutions, which helps customers tap into new revenue streams while advancing a more closed loop, regenerative future. Concentrating on reverse logistics and recycling, the facility provides repair, refurbish and remanufacturing services to help customers further embed sustainability throughout the product lifecycle and reduce waste.
As a company, we’re working on achieving zero waste in 50% of our manufacturing sites by 2025. To do so, we’re taking a circular economy approach and leveraging our collective knowhow and lessons learned from other facilities. For example, we’re working with the Sorocaba team to help modify our processes to further mitigate waste in Jaguariuna.
Switching gears a little bit, tell us about your professional journey and how you became a plant manager. What’s your background?
I was born and raised in Campinas in São Paulo State, Brazil. My original training was in electronics engineering, and I have always worked in mobile systems. My career has been a linear progression as a test engineer, product engineer, process manager, project manager, segment manager, and now a plant manager.
As my engineering career advanced, I wanted exposure to other areas of the business. There was a lot for me to learn in customer relations, account management and forecasting; this was all very new to me at the time. It has been a great learning experience.
And now, while I still enjoy the technical side, I recognize the larger contribution I make as a plant manager.
Have you had any mentors or sponsors who have helped you along the way?
There are many who have sponsored me along the way. I remember my first supervisor who helped me with a leadership position. He was leaving and knew I could replace him. He believed that I was ready to step up and advocated for me to take on the larger role.
Our previous plant manager at Jaguariuna was instrumental in preparing me for my current position. He created an environment in which I was empowered to act quickly and decisively, and his support and trust made me a better decision maker. And then I was very fortunate to have a father who always supported me and firmly believed that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to, personally and professionally.
You have experienced first-hand the value of sponsorship and mentorship. What are some of the opportunities or programs that you are currently involved in to help develop others?
I have been the sponsor of the Women’s Leadership Committee in Brazil the past three years. We partner with our corporate Women in Flex employee resource group (ERG) to increase female participation in our field and in career advancement opportunities.
For example, we have a program in Jaguariuna in which we identify high-performing female workers from the production floor and offer IT career development. We also recently started a Women Leadership program for those who are mid-career and seek advancement into supervisory positions. Over the next six months we will provide mentoring, help them develop soft skills and prepare them to take advantage when new leadership opportunities open up.
Outside of the work day, how do you spend your time? Anything specific you’re passionate about?
I love spending time with my family. My job comes with a lot of responsibility and I don’t always have a traditional schedule. So, when I do have free time, I like to spend it with family. My husband is incredibly supportive, and I am so thankful that he does so much for myself and our daughter. He is amazing. I am also close to my parents, sisters and nephews, all of whom are very important to me.
I also like to travel and spending time connecting with nature, hiking and enjoying our waterfalls. It helps me relax and unwind before I get ready to tackle the new challenges ahead.