Benjamin Franklin may be the most famous early American printer, but a woman printer blazed her own trail in colonial times. As publisher of the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, Mary Katharine Goddard was outspoken in her support of American independence. Her work as editor and publisher was impressive during a time when most women did not undertake employment in trades.
While women today make up only 28.6% of commercial printing workers in the United States, The Vomela Companies can boast a workforce of 35% women. One of our locations even has over 50% women in their workforce! We embrace the work of the women within our 21 locations (and growing) in the U.S. and Canada, and we're thrilled to highlight some of them here.
Thanks to the following women who took the time to share their insights on all things Vomela!
Shannon Gottschall, Director of Administration, Vomela Commercial Group (Springfield, VA)
Meghan Hammond, Project Manager, The Vomela Companies (St. Paul, MN)
Cathy Jackson, Director of Client Services, Vomela Commercial Group (Chicago, IL)
Teri Machala-Kelly, Sr Project Manager/Sales Assistant, C2 Imaging (Chicago, IL)
Colleen O’Shea, Head of Procurement, Vomela Commercial Group (Chicago, IL)
Jessica Torres, Production Supervisor, The Vomela Companies, (St. Paul, MN)
Diverse Career Paths Lead to Vomela
Many Vomela employees come from within the printing industry or printing-adjacent fields. For example, Meghan's love of all things creative led her to the Graphics Communication Management program at the University of Wisconsin Stout. Teri's Bachelor of Fine Arts degree sent her on a search for a career that would include creativity in some way. Leah started as a graphic designer and was trained in print production as a result of a staffing shortage. And Colleen says she "grew up in the graphic arts" since her dad sold paper to printers. But not everyone set out to work in the printing industry.
"After graduating from college, I thought HR would be a good path for me," says Shannon. "After my first interview I was immediately intrigued by all the different equipment and the whole printing process. 23 years later, I’m still hooked." Cathy was supposed to have a summer job in the industry—40 years ago! She says, "I continue to be thrilled by the art form that it is."
A true career change brought Jessica to Vomela. Her path took her from working as a medical assistant to signing on for temporary work at Vomela. She worked her way up over 5 years, learning every job in the kit and pack area and has recently been promoted to production supervisor.
Staying Balanced While Reaching For New Goals
When asked about their professional goals, not a single respondent mentioned leaving the industry—or even leaving Vomela. Most of them started in production and worked their way up. Each of these women wants to learn new aspects of the industry while working towards the common goal of furthering the company. Many of them aspire to mentor others within the workplace, too. The pride they take in their work is inspiring to say the least.
The flip side of the coin is that life doesn't just happen at work. Achieving a balance with their other responsibilities is something that no one seems to have mastered—along with the rest of the American workforce! Many of them admitted that they haven't fully figured out the answer. They do have some ideas on ways to make the balance just a little easier, however.
"I think a lot of people (myself included) have a constant feeling of guilt when they take time to relax, but it’s incredibly important," says Leah. Meghan also advocates for taking time to recharge, as well as setting boundaries separating work and home life. Jessica agrees, "Keeping the two separate and being present and focused is important."
Shannon relies on multitasking and lots of planning, which she says comes naturally to her. "My husband often jokes that I have a plan and a list for everything. But when it comes down to it, I think the support I receive at both home and work makes it much easier to balance work and my family."
Support comes from within Vomela, too. "It helps to work with people who encourage me in that direction, but I do tend to be a bit of a workaholic. It definitely pushes me to ensure that my team has an opportunity to achieve a good balance," says Cathy.
Vomela's Secret Sauce: Our People
The responses when asked, "What's your favorite thing about Vomela?" all included one thing: the people. And it's no surprise to the thousands of people who have worked with Vomela's many employees! Our customers and vendors know how vibrant and welcoming the people of Vomela are, and the camaraderie among coworkers is strong.
"The people make the biggest difference. I’m lucky to have such great coworkers," says Leah. "I have met and worked with so many admirable women. Our team currently includes some, and it’s inspiring to know and work with them."
"In my role I’m fortunate to work with many different team members throughout our network and they are wonderful to work with," says Shannon. "I think one of the things that sets our company apart is that we have both men and women on all levels that are willing to help guide, teach and support."
Vomela's culture is certainly one of encouragement and support, as well as pride in what we do. Cathy states, "Throughout the network, we have experts in every aspect of print who are willing to lend that knowledge to make each project a success. Starting at the top, Vomela is filled with people who care and treat everyone with respect. I still get excited seeing our finished products. The quality is top notch, and the variety of the projects makes every day a new adventure."
Meghan adds, "I love the variety and complexity of projects. I enjoy following a project from start to finish and being able to see the in-person end results." Over the 5 years she's been in the industry, she says she's had the pleasure of working with and learning from multiple women at Vomela.
Teri specifically called out Mary Houk, the sales manager at C2 Imaging (IL). "She has taught me a lot throughout the years in regard to client relations—being solutions-oriented, giving our clients the best service and products." Teri also notes the great feeling that comes when the team helps a client succeed with their goals.
Women Empowering Women—In Their Words
"Believe the positive feedback you receive, but also be willing to work on areas in which you receive constructive criticism. We must work on using both things to move us forward. Be sure to have more than one mentor. Different people can advise in different areas. Try to find a career that energizes you. Liking what you do and being passionate about it will only aid in your success." – Cathy
"Always strive to learn and understand all aspects of the business you are in, work hard, and you will succeed. Never say 'That’s not my job.' If you plan to excel in your career, everything is your job or will be soon enough if you work for it." – Jessica
"Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself with the progress that can be made when you put the effort in. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to bother trying." – Leah
"Work hard, find where you can add value in a new position, ask questions. Be professional and kind to everyone you encounter." – Teri
"When I was looking for a job, my grandfather told me to find a good company that supports its employees, work hard, and do your best every day you go to work. I remember that often and think it is great advice to live by. As a working mom, I would say to never apologize for being a mom or making your family a priority." – Shannon
"Don’t give up, fight for what you’re trying to get. In the early days, there were times I had to fight with my boss to get the answers I needed for clients. Absorb as much as possible from the people willing to help." – Colleen
"Don’t be afraid of your voice being heard. Speak up for yourself and others. Your ideas and opinions matter. Be open to new opportunities and don’t shy away from challenges." – Meghan
Mary Katharine Goddard would be proud of these women in printing. We certainly are, and we appreciate and recognize the efforts of all the women who work to make Vomela the outstanding company it is.