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Highlighting Susan Bear, a True Changemaker, During Women’s History Month

March 24, 2023



In case you missed it, we recently announced that the American Foundry Society recognized Susan Bear, Chief Technology Officer at Grede, with the Women in Metalcasting Award for Excellence!

We couldn’t think of a better time to highlight Susan further than during Women’s History Month. As a top female leader at Grede, we were eager to sit down with Susan to pick her brain. We walked away with many pearls of wisdom.

What advice do you have for women starting their careers?

“Fill your toolbox with a variety of positions and functions (try new swim lanes!). Don’t worry if it’s lateral or a promotion—just gain experience. Later in your career, you’ll find that all those skills combined come together in a way that is valuable to any organization at a high level.”

The metalcasting industry is typically male-dominated. What advice do you have for women in metalcasting?

“Don’t shy away—the men don’t bite! And believe it or not, it might not be much of a roadblock. Put your head down, focus on doing your job well and lean into new challenges that the team needs someone to lead. Don’t get discouraged if you think something came across as “unfair” because you’re a woman. No one can dispute a job well done—man or woman. A job well done doesn’t go unnoticed and pays off.”

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

It shows how far we’ve come as a society and how we’ve embraced that women are just as capable as men. I look at Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, someone I admire and I see someone who has got where she is because she is fantastic at what she does. She filled her toolbox with a variety of experiences and pulled it all together to lead the largest automotive OEM through tough times into one of the most successful eras of GM.”

Why is it important to encourage diversity?

“All diversity is critical—gender, race, religion—and it’s all priceless to the world’s success. If we want to optimize leadership, point-of-view, critical thinking, innovation and new ideas, we need to include everyone from around the world. It only makes sense.”

What is your favorite thing about your job?

“The challenge of new projects, developing and optimizing processes and watching this team mesh together. 2023 is going to be a fun year, and we’ve witnessed it already in the first few months.”

What makes Grede a great place to work?

“The feeling of walking into each plant and feeling like one team. Everyone has each other’s back—that’s just how we work. It’s a great group.”

What’s a project that you’re proud of?

“The Neenah acquisition is probably what I’m the proudest of. The way the entire Grede organization rolled up their sleeves, each took on a role (on top of their current jobs!) and picked each other up when help was needed to get it done. I’m proud of what we did, I’m proud of the team, and I’m proud of how it positioned Grede for the future.”

Grede Team photo

Susan with some of the team members who made the Neenah acquisition possible.  

What did you have for dinner last night?

“Eggs, toast, and fruit—I must admit, I tend to eat breakfast for dinner as often as I can!”

When was the last time you belly laughed?

“The last time I belly laughed was during dinner with all four kids, David and me. We couldn’t stop laughing at the boys talking in morse code together (no idea where they learned that) and making a mess in the kitchen making homemade pasta. They’re a riot, and we love watching them enjoy life.”

You have 45 minutes of free time. What do you do?

“David (my fiancé) and I try to squeeze in a HIIT workout in the evenings. It can be hard to find time between juggling the four kids and two highly demanding careers, planning a wedding and selling our current home, all while building our new home! The goal is 4-5 times a week.”

What’s one of the best pieces of advice you’ve ever received?

“Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.”