By Helen Widman
To many, a sign that reads ‘Refractories are the nucleus of industry’, doesn’t mean much, but to Bryn Snow, Director of application technology at refractories supplier HarbisonWalker International, it represents the importance of materials science for future generations.
“It is a powerful statement. Often we also say that refractories are the hidden industry and refractories are only one portion of material science when you start to think about biomaterials and metallurgy,” Snow says. “Polymer Science, all of those things are really critical to how our society works and how things function.”
As a member of the CGIF Board of Trustees since 2018, Snow has enjoyed working with other companies and academics in the industry that she otherwise probably would have never met, broadening her circle of influence and learning from people she shares common interests with.
Her favorite experience with CGIF was her involvement with The Future City Award Competition. She co-judged the competition with one of her former customers and CGIF board member, Tim Powers.
“It was a great experience and just kind of ties really closely with the fact that I volunteered for our youth circle but also inspiring the next generation,” Snow says. “These were high school students that probably are all going to be scientists or engineers. So that was really excellent to see how great their minds think.”
Don Abrino, owner of Bear Run Consulting, has known and worked with Bryn for a number of years.
“One of the things that really sticks out is Bryn was willing to be responsible and accountable, even if somebody didn’t ask her to be… That’s what leadership is all about. Bryn has that inherently built into her personality,” Abrino says.
In 2021, she was named as a winner of The STEP Ahead Award, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Production. One aspect of the award is to honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers. The honorees also represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the top level executives.
The program highlights each honoree’s story, including her accomplishments in manufacturing.
For someone as involved in helping others as Snow is, she wasn’t expecting to win an award.
“To be frank, I thought the email was spam,” she says. Shortly after receiving the email she received a call from her CEO and former STEP award winner congratulating her.
“It became more real, that it was actually valid,” Snow says. “It was actually something that I did win.”
Annually, recipients of the award are hosted in Washington, D.C. for a gala and two and a half days of leadership and industrial training. During the training, she learned shocking statistics that focused on the importance of women in her job market. She realized how critical it was to focus on that market going forward.
As a recipient of the The STEP Ahead Award, Bryn noticed a hefty boost in her online followers.
“There was a lot of recognition from not just my own company … but from customers and other companies that I get to work with,” Snow says.
A critical aspect of Snow’s job is building a personal brand. This enables people to trust in her and realize how knowledgeable she is. Winning the award directly led to further development of her personal brand, which helps her attract new talent.
Chris Kraft, Senior Director, Industrial Sales at HarbisonWalker International, described Bryn as tenacious and easy to get along with.
“She’s passionate about STEM related things and she goes out of her way to look for opportunities to help and to volunteer. I was excited and happy for her, I felt like it was a very deserving thing (winning the STEP Award).
Snow and Kraft hosted an event at HarbisonWalker International’s research center and laboratory with The Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation. Snow was able to rally support by reminding her coworkers that many of them are in the field because of an early interest in science as a child.
“We hosted teachers that came in on their own time during the summer and learned about opportunities The Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation was offering, like their teaching kits…” Kraft says. “She made sure that our Research Center said yes and also that there were people within our organization there and it was really an event that everyone looks back and says ‘Boy, we’d be happy to do that again.’ That was fun for us…She really really looks for opportunities to help others.”
In her position at CGIF, she works toward filling the need for more people in the materials science field.
“One of the pillars of that group (CGIF) is to inspire the next generation into our field … so it really motivates me to try to find any program or any path where we can influence and inspire the next generation,” Bryn says.
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