Employee Spotlight: Pilar Gomez

Pilar Gomez
Pilar Gomez

Plant Manager at Sanmina Guadalajara

Can you share a bit about your professional background?

I’ve been with Sanmina Mexico for more than 21 years. I started as Program Administrator for a global account and then worked my way up to Program Manager. Once I was promoted to Business Unit Manager, I got the opportunity to work with many different types of customers across industries like the automotive and telecommunications sectors.

Four years ago, I was promoted to Plant Manager of Plant 1 in Guadalajara, which is where I first started my career at the company. It felt very satisfying to be back where I began but in a much larger role. It’s an exciting challenge because it’s one of the biggest plants in the region and it was one of the first electronic management services (EMS) providers in Mexico.

What responsibilities do you have in your current position?

As Plant Manager, I’m in charge of everything that happens at the plant. I have to make sure that customers are happy while also maintaining a profitable and growing operation. Equally as important is ensuring that my employees are happy and engaged in their work. We are like a family in Plant 1 and everyone cares about each other’s well being. Many of us spend personal time outside of work together.

I’m proud to say that our plant successfully manages two of the largest accounts at Sanmina and they are very happy with our performance. We’ve also been able to grow our global accounts to the point where manufacturing has expanded to Sanmina’s other global sites.

What do you enjoy most about working at Sanmina?

Throughout the years and positions that I’ve held, I’ve been able to experience many different environments, customers and a variety of challenges. It’s never the same on any given day and I really enjoy that. As Plant Manager, there’s even more variety because there are so many moving parts.

My other favorite aspects of our plant is the culture – it’s like one big family. We have friendships both inside and outside of the company and those relationships make work so much more fulfilling. When times are tough, we trust and rely on each other. When times are good, we celebrate together.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Years ago, we took on a new product introduction (NPI) project for a customer and the product had to be launched and shipped within twenty-four hours. Not a single person that worked at the plant slept that night, everyone came together to make it happen. We did a great job of supporting that customer.

Another time, I took over responsibility for a very big account that was previously managed by two account managers. Things hadn’t been going very well with this customer and I was literally taking on the work of two people to fix it. But I like a challenge and devoted a lot of time collaborating with both the customer and my team to achieve the specific goals that we identified. In the end, the customers was very happy and we generated a profit from their business.

Who has been an inspiration in your life?

My parents have been a big inspiration to me. When I was a kid, my father taught me the motto, “Don’t give them the fish, show them how to fish.” He was the kind of person that wouldn’t do my homework for me but would teach me the skills to do it properly on my own. This approach has always been very helpful in my life, especially when I’m focused on identifying the root cause of problems at work so that I can resolve them.

My mother ran her own minerals company that required working in a very male-dominated industry. She taught me leadership skills and helped me to understand that there really are no barriers, other than the ones you put in place for yourself.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love reading biographies and leadership books. If you are open to it, you can learn something from just about anyone’s experiences. I typically like to alternate between reading books in English and Spanish.

Downtown Guadalajara

Do you have any thoughts on women in manufacturing or the next generation workforce?

I’m part of the Industrial Association of El Salto and they are focused on ensuring more women’s roles in manufacturing and engineering. The chamber asked me to become part of a council because they needed to add a female perspective. Overall, I think organizations are beginning to embrace diversity as a key success metric and are also realizing that the knowledge and skills you contribute are more important than your gender.

Back when I was a university student, I studies Mathematics and our department was right next to Engineering. The mathematics department was 80 percent women, while the engineering department only had a handful of women. It was really just a societal attitude that prevented women from entering that field.

My advice to young women and the next generation of workers would be similar to what I learned from my parents. The only barriers that you have are the ones that you create. If you want to be an engineer or work manufacturing, no one can stop you. Be fearless, figure out what skills you need to enter the field and align yourself with mentors that can help guide you along the way.