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By Latanyua Taylor Robinson
Latanyua Taylor Robinson describes herself as a minister for manufacturing. In 2010, she started Latrobe LLC, a manufacturing and engineering services company. Latrobe’s mission: to create jobs in industrial manufacturing, specifically in low to ...
Purposed Work
Latanyua Taylor Robinson describes herself as a minister for manufacturing. In 2010, she started Latrobe LLC, a manufacturing and engineering services company. Latrobe’s mission: to create jobs in industrial manufacturing, specifically in low to moderate income communities. Latanyua’s educational credentials include a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University. She developed a passion for manufacturing while in college. Throughout her career, Latanyua has held a variety of increasing responsibilities in operations, engineering, quality and marketing management. These assignments created opportunities to travel domestically and around the world, including various countries throughout Europe, China, India, Israel and Mexico. At such companies as Cargill, Sony and Kennametal, Latanyua met the challenges that come with being the “first” and the “only” as an opportunity to demonstrate that with proper training, women can succeed in jobs and industries traditionally reserved for men. Latrobe began as a contract manufacturing company. Today the portfolio has expanded to include process engineering, strategic marketing and construction tools and services. In May 2011, Latanyua was selected and honored as a Finalist at the Greater Washington D.C.’s Annual Women in Technology Leadership Awards in the category of Entrepreneur. In September 2011, she opened a second office in Port Arthur, Texas, to support job creation in manufacturing in southeast Texas and along the Sabine River into Louisiana. Additionally in October 2011 and 2012, Latanyua was a featured panel speaker at the Women in Manufacturing Symposiums held in Cleveland, Ohio and Milwaukee, Wisc. In April 2013, Latanyua will become an inducted member of the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineers. Her next goal is to launch a non-profit organization focused toward getting more girls and women involved in manufacturing and technology. Girls Engaged in Manufacturing Studies (GEMS) mission and goals are to increase the numbers of females entering high tech, engineering and STEM related professions that are critical to our nation’s future growth and competitive edge in the global marketplace. Latanyua is married to James Robinson and they have a son named Quincy. The family currently resides in the Beaumont, Texas metro area. In her spare time, Latanyua shares her thoughts on economic diversity and the importance of manufacturing in sustaining the middle class economy in a blog titled, Purposed Work.
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March 17, 2013 5:30 p.m.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas.
She was always doing good works and acts of charity<>
(Acts 9:36)<>
March is Women’s History Month. It’s 2013 and I am both confused about the debates over protecting women from violence or protecting women’s reproductive rights, while I celebrate Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the historical number of women elected to office or running major corporations. As a working mom, I know that we are making progress and preparing a better way for the next generation of women leaders.<>
In my own industry, I see phenomenal changes taking shape. In 2011, I participated in the inaugural Women in Manufacturing conference. It was rewarding to network with high-powered women who shared my passion and experiences. I left the 2012 conference feeling less enthusiastic. It appeared to me that affluent women had decided to become champions of manufacturing by using their position to influence policy. Their efforts are sincerely needed, however, I question if a person who has never worked in the environment understands the real world needs. I was actually turned off when I heard references to the “pink ghetto,” a take on a term assigned to jobs or functions typically filled by women. In their minds, it is not enough that women are ascending to C-level appointments in functional areas like human resources, finance, and marketing—that more women are needed in research and development, engineering, technology. The premise is true, but my lived experience is that the road to CEO is through the financial/commercial side of the business, not the operational side.<>
I was frustrated because the affluent women most likely to have a voice in the political world are least likely to know what really happens in the lower levels of manufacturing. One of my favorite songs has these lyrics: You don’t know my story. You don’t know the things that I’ve been through.These women do not know my story of a college educated, front line supervisor/manager in manufacturing, and what it is like to work in a wet, sub-50 degree turkey processing plant, taking both vitamin B (to ward off pain in my hand from holding a knife for hours at a time) and vitamin C (to prevent colds) tablets daily or to work twelve hour shifts or to be pregnant and trying to navigate across a production floor covered with hydraulic fluid. These are the jobs you take throughout your career to prove yourself, to get the real experience to qualify you for those promotional opportunities en route to the C-suite or corporate board appointments.<>
I thought about this after last week’s controversy surrounding Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and the flack she’s catching for her presumed inability to understand the challenges of women less affluent than herself in attaining professional achievement and financial prosperity. I applaud her attempts, but I question if she understands that it takes more than Lean In Circles for women to achieve their professional goals. To learn more about Sandberg’s movement, visit her Lean In community at http://leanin.org/<>
My self-reflection is asking what I am doing in preparing a better way for future leaders in manufacturing and technology. I can turn my frustration into a voice in the community I work and serve. I can use my participation in industry associations to discuss real world needs. I can mentor young women, advising them of career possibilities and sharing my experiences of navigating in and out of functional assignments. I can share with them the benefits of the work I have been graced to accomplish. <>
Sidenote explanation of the scripture reference: I remembered that my club alias, back in college, was Tabitha. Little did I know then that the name represented a woman of the bible or that the name is synonymous with a woman who does good works (Acts 9:36).

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