Tanya Kiefer

Current Position: Engineering and Design Solutions Engineer at Associated
Tanya Kiefer
Highlight I am very excited to see this site and I am so glad that young women have resources available. I am a strong believer in surrounding yourself with positive people that will help mentor you along your journey.
Her job: Mgr., Supply Chain Facilities III, OfficeMax
Describe what you do in your current work situation? Currently, I work at the Headquarters for OfficeMax as an Industrial Engineer. I design, equip and manage the Construction of warehouses for our Contract division. I manage projects that can range from $10,000 to over $20 million. Each project that I work on requires technical ability, which I rely upon my Engineering background to find solutions.
Why did you choose engineering? My father is a Mechanical Engineer. I was always fascinated with his career when I was growing up. I decided in 5th grade that I would like to be an Engineer, so I worked hard at Math and Science in school. I never changed my mind once to pursue a different degree. In high school, I would visit my dad on job sites over my breaks to learn and loved what he did and knew I was making the right choice for myself in my career path.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have? I started College at University of Milwaukee for Pre-Engineering. Once I choose Industrial Engineering as my focus, I transferred to Northern Illinois University (Go Huskies!). I have a degree in B.S., Industrial Engineering.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work? I typically manage people that work for various companies to perform work for OfficeMax. Most of the projects that I manage involve companies that will build and/or install equipment for us. My job requires that I travel to our various locations in the United States.
What do you like best about being an engineer? I love the constant challenge that my job brings me. I work on something different everyday, which keeps things very exciting. Also, people rely on me to make decisions based on my knowledge as an Engineer.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of? I worked on a Lawsuit that took over 4 years to settle for my Company. I was instrumental in working with Lawyers and experts and helping my Company get the money we were entitled to. I was able to spend the money fixing a large issue in one of our main buildings to make the building safer for our work force.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career? College was a long road and could be difficult at times. I worked very hard and there were times I thought I would never finish. It definitely takes dedication, but it was worth every minute.
Please tell us a little about your family. I have two beautiful daughters ages 8 and 10 years old. They are love of my life and they keep us very busy. They are both very athletic, so we are always on the go to watch an event. We are a very tight knit family and they have both expressed an interest in being an Engineer. Their father is an Industrial Engineer as well, so they see it from both sides.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals? My short term goal is to grow into a position with Leadership responsibility and have people work directly for me. My long term goal is to develop my Leadership into a Senior or Executive level position in a large company where I have a staff of over 30 people.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices? I would say my mother and father. My father gave me the gift of the love of Math. He inspired me to be an Engineer. My mother gave me the gift of English and helped me be a better writer, reader and speaker. You need to be a well rounded person to be successful in the business world. She inspires me to be all I can be.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering? My advice to young women would be to work hard and stay focused. There is nothing that can hold women back, so apply yourself and the rewards will come. You need to establish a strong work ethic early on in your education to make it a habit. Also, you need to start to focus on school early on to build a strong foundation for learning.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book. I like to run races competitively. I run 5k’s and obstacles races, so I have to train hard in running and weight training to be strong. I like to lead by example for my girls, so I stay fit to keep up with them and hope to inspire them to try hard and succeed.