We are excited to share that Maria M., the Research & Development Manager of Global Skin Care category at Kimberly-Clark Professional, was recently honored with the 2023 Great Minds in STEM™ (GMiS) Luminary Award for her broad technical accomplishments and leadership with Kimberly-Clark. The award recognizes America's best and brightest Hispanic engineers, scientists, mathematicians, technology experts, and computer scientists through the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC) nomination process. 
We interacted with Maria to tell us more about this big achievement and her journey towards success. Follow to be inspired! 

How did your journey with Kimberly-Clark begin? 
Right out of college, I started with Kimberly-Clark as a Mechanical Engineer working on tissue machines at our former Fullerton Facility. Then I moved into operations at the Chester facility to continue growing my leadership skills. When the opportunity to lead the Skin Care Research & Development team came, I jumped at it and moved to Roswell to pursue the role of Senior Operations Consultant for our skin care category. I was passionate about the category and believed that I had the right experience to push its growth. 

How did Kimberly-Clark’s values assist you in your accomplishments?  
Through the many roles I have held at Kimberly-Clark, I am proud of having contributed to our supply chain and manufacturing network, from ensuring safe and proper equipment operations to aiding in developing the new Fiber Prep department at Chester and skin care assets for Kimberly-Clark Professional.  
Kimberly-Clark’s commitment to its people has helped me explore different sectors of the company and different career paths through a diverse network of mentors and sponsors. I have had amazing leaders who enabled me and empowered me to make my own decisions, while supporting me and giving me the appropriate tools to make them. I regularly travel to meet with our vendors and contractors and have the honor to represent Kimberly-Clark in those interactions.  

How do you encompass our ways of working in your day-to-day activities?  
As a Research & Development Manager, I empower my team members to make decisions about their projects, enabling them to move fast and play to win. I focus on consumers by ensuring our internal processes are followed and that gaps are addressed on time. Through my leadership in the Latin American Network for Diversity Employee Resource Group (LAND ERG), I strive to highlight and grow Latino talent within the organization by organizing trainings and networking opportunities.  

How does your team support each other to drive innovation, growth, and marketing leadership? 
I believe everyone in Kimberly-Clark has an open-door policy (even virtually). I have found that I can just as easily turn to other team members for technical support as I can for coaching on leadership skills.  
Over the past few years, my team has been undergoing several supply chain improvement projects. We have had to respond to market demands for soap and sanitizers, while maintaining the product quality expectations of our consumers. We have increased our network capacity by over 200% to ensure we are able to respond quickly to increases in demand and customer needs.  

How does Kimberly-Clark bring inclusion, equity & diversity to life for its people?  
I feel Kimberly-Clark truly brings inclusion, equity & diversity to life by supporting and funding Employee Resource Groups. Being an active member of LAND for a few years now, I have participated in forums where Latin employees are highlighted. Kimberly-Clark also allows flexible work arrangements to ensure that our people can raise families, pursue their passions outside of work, and give back to the community in their own unique ways.  

Tell us more about your Luminary Award and what this means to you?  
I was honored to even be nominated for the award. Being nominated by my leader and receiving letters of recommendation from senior leaders and executives showed me that my contributions were valued. Receiving the award and attending the Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) conference energized me to continue to promote diverse talent in STEM within Kimberly-Clark and within my community. Receiving the award reinforces my commitment to continue to hire, mentor, and promote diverse talent within the organization.  

What impact are you making towards Kimberly-Clark’s purpose of creating Better Care for a Better World?  
To me, Better Care for a Better World means taking the time to understand the needs of our consumers when developing a product and ensuring their perspectives are reflected within the product development process.  
Also, through my work with one of our employee resource groups called LAND, I hope that I can continue to foster a sense of belonging for other Latinos within the organization and that they feel enabled to grow their careers within the company. I want to create a culture of accountability and belonging where team members are empowered to make their own decisions, knowing that I will have their backs... where everyone feels comfortable bringing their whole self to work.  

What advice would you give to people looking to work at Kimberly-Clark?  
Be open to jobs that may not look like a dream job! Coming out of college, I never thought I would work in manufacturing, making toilet paper or helping manufacture soaps. The people and culture at Kimberly-Clark have been fantastic over the past 7 years. I would encourage people to look at the content of the job and see how their capabilities would fit in with the existing postings, even if they are outside their current scope. Finally, I would encourage potential applicants to be themselves during the application process. When hiring, we look for people who would add to our culture of inclusion and accountability, not just who would fit into the team. It Starts with You.