Lean Blog Interviews — 438: Steel Toes and Stilettos, an Interview with Kathy Miller and Shannon Karels

Episode page: https://www.leanblog.org/438

My guests for Episode #438 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast are Shannon Karels and Kathy Miller, the authors of the recently-released book Steel Toes and Stilettos: A True Story of Women Manufacturing Leaders and Lean Transformation Success. Their website is opsisters.com.

Kathy Miller is a Senior Operations Executive who has held numerous global vice president and director roles both in manufacturing and lean enterprise leadership.  Kathy is a Shingo Prize Recipient for Large Businesses as a Plant Manager.  

She started her career in Operations as a 17-year-old co-op student at a vehicle assembly plant, and progressed through engineering, marketing, lean, and operations leadership roles, working for four large publicly traded corporations in executive roles.  

Shannon Karels is a Senior Operations Manager who has led multiple lean transformations and run operations for two large publicly traded corporations across various industries and business models.  She started her career in supply chain management and progressed through lean and operations leadership roles. 

Today, we discuss topics and questions including:

  • What are your Lean origin stories?
  • Kathy – what was the motivation for Lean– catching up to Toyota? Main goals? 
  • Shannon – starting point, the business was losing money?
  • The “right way to run a business” – what appealed most to you?
  • Kathy: how to help break old habits and truly embrace what’s being taught?
  • Other coaches and influences?
  • How did auto experience translate to first job outside of GM/Delphi?
  • Story behind the book?
  • How much of the book is about issues faced by women in manufacturing?
  • The lean facilitator and the General Manager – how do the roles and responsibilities break down in a lean transformation?
  • Your passion for safety? Where did that develop in each of you?
  • Lean in the office? Carpet land?

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network