“Do as A Woman Would Do It”
Laura Augustine’s Beginnings in Industrial Chemicals
For Laura Augustine, it all started with a newspaper ad. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1992 with a degree in Anthropology and moving to New Mexico for a job, life had other plans for her. After moving home in 1995 from New Mexico and working odd jobs, she stumbled upon an ad in the newspaper for a customer service representative. The job was with a local chemical company and offered good benefits along with a decent paycheck. Coming from a blue-collar family she had never considered a job in chemicals before.
She was later interviewed and hired by FBC Chemical in customer service. She worked in that position for about two years before exploring a new opportunity brought about by the sales manager. After deciding that customer service was not for her anymore, she began getting out of the office as a sales representative. While FBC may have taken a big chance on her in moving positions things worked out since that change happened in 1997…
Other Women in the Industry
Upon Laura joining FBC there were not any other women salespersons at the time, though one woman had worked there prior to Laura joining FBC in 1995. Laura found in the beginning and even now, that the industrial chemicals sales industry is predominantly male-dominated. While FBC itself is a male-dominated company, Laura has been given many opportunities to thrive and has found it a great place to work.
Within the Pittsburgh market where FBC is located, there have been many women involved as purchasing agents and other positions throughout the years. Many of these women she met through Pittsburg Chemical Day that she began involving herself within 2000. The event was more male-dominated but in the past 10 years, more women have been attending the event.
Selling Industrial Chemicals
When changing to a sales representative, Laura found you learn along the way. You do not have to understand chemistry to sell chemicals. She explained it is the companies that do their own marketing and testing. It is the sales representative’s job to learn the product line and what those products can do. It is all about relationships and talking to people and getting to know them.
She found that being a young woman selling chemicals in 1997 was hard because she had to build up her confidence. Most of her customers were men over the age of 50 who had a set mindset of what a young woman was going to explain to them about chemicals and the chemical industry. Laura challenged herself until she was able to move past it and found success doing the job and gaining more knowledge.
Looking Toward the Future
Laura finds that her favorite part of being in the chemical industry is the job itself and all the opportunities it brings. The longer she has been in her position the more women she has seen coming up as chemists, other sales representatives, management, and more. Even this year, Laura was excited to find that FBC hired another female sales representative. In a world where women can do anything they want, Laura has some inspiring words for young girls interested in male-dominated fields:
“Don’t try to do your job as a man would do it, but do as a woman would do it”
Understanding what women bring to the table is important, in terms of experiences and influences that come from growing up as a woman. Many experiences in Laura’s own life have reminded her that women and men see from different perspectives. Being a woman means you bring a lot to the table in whatever role you may be in, in the future. Laura believes it is important to remember that. So, for any girl or woman who may come across this story, remember just this: do as a woman would do it.
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Ecolink, Inc will continue to highlight more women in the chemical industry and their accomplishments. Keep checking in each week for more spotlights on women making moves in the industry!