Innovating Our Future: Discovering the American Dream in Manufacturing

How determination and innovation drive leadership
Tuesday, June 30, 2015 11:15 am EDT


Anne Cooney, President, Process Industries and Drives, Siemens

As our nation celebrates its independence this week, I am grateful and privileged to know so many of our Siemens employees who embody the true bedrock of the American Dream.

As a U.S. employer of choice, Siemens is dedicated to hiring and retaining the next generation of innovators. Siemens project manager Crystal Cristescu, a 31-year old electrical engineer and mother of three, is one of those employees. Since joining us in 2007, Crystal has taken leadership roles in her local chapter of the Women’s Network at Siemens, beyond her traditional responsibilities in the factory. She now is joining our nationwide Diversity and Inclusion Council, designed for management and employees to better understand the value of diversity and its business impact.

What I value most from Crystal is her ability to innovate. Among other achievements, she has implemented an executive job shadow program for other talented employees and led her engineering team as they identified and are addressing more than 90 ways to improve processes.

I invite you to read her personal story below:

My parents are both originally from Iraq. When my father realized he did not want to join the Army, which was then compulsory, he moved to Greece to live with an aunt. He met my mother and they married soon after. Though they knew no English and had very little money, they took a leap of faith and moved to Detroit, where a very convincing relative had settled and was longing for more family to join her.

My father arrived to the land of opportunity with no skill set and no high school diploma. He had everythingandnothing all at once. Determined to establish his family and his foothold, my father took as a cashier job at a party store. As more of our family immigrated to America, my dad learned the HVAC trade. Today, he is the embodiment of the American Dream; the proud owner of his own HVAC business – and my brother is co-owner of the company. 

I feel like I connected with my father’s faith and determination early in my life. Though he lacked the formal education, my father’s hobby was engineering. I have precious and vivid memories of me as a young girl, tinkering on projects in the garage and around the house, in the few moments of my dad’s free time he could find.

In high school, one teacher helped foster my interest in engineering, along with my natural grasp of math. Though I was often the only girl, I dove into in electricity, electronics and drafting classes.

This journey, I later realized, was the inception of my American Dream. I was accepted to Wayne State University in Detroit and earned my Bachelors of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering. To succeed, I had to let go. I could have no reservations about entering the male-dominated engineering industry. I never held back.

Six months after my father watched me walk across the stage at graduation, I got married, moved to Illinois and began my career as order engineer for Siemens in West Chicago. That was 2007.

Today, I am in my fourth role at the company, after earning three promotions. There were obstacles of course, especially as I became a mother and grew my family with three children. But even though I am still a minority, by culture and gender, I feel as if I belong – I own my own dream.

And Siemens is there to help me along. Internally, the company has a women’s network for employees. I joined, and then became the chairwoman for the Chicago chapter. I recently resigned that position so I could become a leader on our nationwide Diversity and Inclusion Council. In my eight years on the job, I’ve implemented an executive job shadow program for other talented employees and led my engineering team to identify and address more than 90 ways to improve facility and factory floor processes.

I’m exploring the idea of earning my masters degree and often contemplate what my next steps forward will be with Siemens.

Whatever path I choose for me and my family, I will always be humbled by my past and appreciate what a land of opportunity has afforded me. John Adams defined the America Dream as life that should be “better and richer and fuller for everyone” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

This week, more than ever, I am grateful to be one of the many Siemens employees who are innovating to reach our dreams.  

Anne Cooney is President of the Process Industries and Drives division in the US. She has 14 years of experience with Siemens, previously serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from Gannon University, and a Master of Business Administration from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Anne brings more than 35 years of industry and manufacturing knowledge and experience to her role.