Colleen Emery

2020 STEP Ahead Honoree

Manufacturing Director

Manufacturing is an exciting and dynamic environment where teamwork is paramount in successfully transforming raw materials to finished goods. My passion is in coaching and developing leaders at all levels in the organization to reach their full potential.  It is very rewarding to be part of a talented team that solves problems and drives continuous improvement to make a difference in the lives of our employees, customers and community.

Having started as an industrial engineer with 3M 30 years ago, Colleen has succeeded in manufacturing roles of increasing responsibility because of her technical knowledge, leadership ability and work ethic. For instance, as manager of 3M’s Cynthiana, Kentucky plant, she led a team that made many improvements including implementing processes that promoted operator engagement, changing from a rotating to a fixed-crew structure to reduce worker fatigue, restructuring job grades to reduce reliance on contingent workers, and investing in robotics and automation to support business growth. These efforts resulted in many site output records while increasing employee morale, commitment and engagement. Today, as manufacturing and supply chain director for 3M’s Separations and Purification Sciences division, Colleen continues this tradition of innovation over 14 global manufacturing sites with more than 1,000 employees total.

Colleen has been actively involved in 3M’s Women’s Leadership Forum for years. Today, she leads a lean-in WLF circle to coach, develop and advise women across the company. She’s passionate about supporting all women in the STEM fields, both at 3M and beyond. She’s spent countless hours tutoring students and volunteering in schools. As a member and then chair of the NDSU Industrial Engineering Advisory Board, she has provided input to engineering professors relative to manufacturing and industrial needs, helping to strengthen the education of the next generation.

Colleen has also been instrumental in creating work opportunities for the communities where she has lived. She is particularly proud of the work she and other civic leaders did to certify Harrison County, Kentucky, as a Kentucky Work Ready Community, assuring business and industry leaders that the community is committed to providing the highly-skilled workforce required in today’s competitive global economy.

Beyond her work with STEM education and workforce development, Colleen has given much time and effort to her church, the Girl Scouts, youth basketball leagues and community theater.