Copper and Brass Sales is celebrating Women’s History Month, in part, by spotlighting members of our staff whose exemplary work and inspiring stories further our mission and values. Stay tuned throughout the month as we spotlight these inspiring employees.
As I sat down to interview Vickie for this piece, my first impression was that she’s a strong woman with a commanding presence. Vickie has had an impressive and successful career, spending her last 14-1/2 years here with Copper and Brass Sales, currently as Vice President of the West Region.
When Vickie started her first career as a paralegal she found the income made it difficult for her to afford the cost of college. Her dad was a truck driver and she was one of six kids who had to put herself through college. She shifted gears and went to work at a steel mill as a data analyst. Vickie utilized their tuition reimbursement program and obtained her bachelor’s degree in business management. During her time at the steel mill, she progressed through various roles within their finance and purchasing departments. After she achieved her undergraduate degree, Vickie was promoted again and transferred to a location in the Midwest. While there, she also attended the University of Chicago for their Executive program and obtained her MBA.
Vickie became interested in moving into operations to further round out her skillset and experiences, while alternately the company wanted to move her into labor relations. At an impasse, Vickie felt that it was time to move on. Encouraged by some of her University of Chicago classmates who worked for a metal processor and distributor, she joined their operations team as a General Manager of Materials – eventually managing entire regions.
Sadly, tragedy struck back home in the Pacific Northwest and Vickie’s son was in a horrible car accident. She immediately returned to help him through his rehabilitation and recovery. While back in the Seattle area, Vickie was recruited as Vice President of Sales by a former customer until a position became available at Copper and Brass Sales to lead in a dual role as Vice President of the Northwest Region and leading CBS Aerospace Distribution.
Vickie was brought into this role to breathe new life into the Copper and Brass Sales aerospace business as it had gone through an adjustment period after the formation of the new Aerospace division at thyssenkrupp Materials NA. Vickie hired experts in the aerospace industry who were able to come in and advise her on what needed to change. She also toured and spoke to the people at our own aerospace facilities to take into account what they felt would bring success. What she learned was that within the aerospace industry, the Copper and Brass Sales name didn’t resonate as well as the thyssenkrupp name did. With that, a mild repositioning was done which allowed them to have flexibility with the mills and realize further cost savings which resulted in creating nearly three times the business as before implementation of these changes. After five years, the position was expanded and Vickie was promoted to Regional Vice President, retaining the northwest region, all of California, and aerospace.
Within Vickie’s career she has faced numerous challenges as a strong woman with a palpable drive and ambition. Through her achievements, she’s dealt with certain backlash from her colleagues. She has at times felt a lack of respect and an unhealthy competition – even encountering some that were suspicious of the results she has achieved. Women who sport the commanding presence that Vickie does are often looked at as being too strong, too focused, or perhaps even not feminine enough. Men are typically praised for being strong and focused but women generally need to work harder to compete. Vickie knew that she needed to work with existing cultures in order to garner the authority and respect that came with some of these higher-level positions. With that, Vickie sought out an executive coaching program that she participated in over the course of three years which helped her be more successful with her colleagues and in the end, create the success the company needed to implement strategies and meet goals.
Vickie is a lifelong learner and always itching to fix any problems that have been identified, even if that means working on fixing things within herself. Both personally and professionally, it’s always been about continuous improvement. As Vickie nears the end of her career, she’s most focused now on continuing to develop the team coming up behind her. She spoke fondly her team, referring to them as “the best” that she’s had in her career and is confident that when she does retire, she’ll leave the region and the company in good hands.
We’re glad that the opportunity at Copper and Brass Sales presented itself to Vickie at the right time in her life. We’re glad to have shared in Vickie’s success and be a part of her inspiring story through our celebration of Women’s History Month.