Read the inspiring story of Jessica Alves, the Material Supervisor at Econo-Pak. In a candid conversation with Sarah, our Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Jessica shares her remarkable personal and professional growth journey within the company.
Starting as a line worker with limited English skills, she navigated through various roles, overcoming language barriers and embracing new challenges. This interview is not just about a career trajectory; it’s a testament to the power of determination, workplace support, and diversity and inclusion in shaping careers. Join us as we explore Jessica’s unique experiences and insights that highlight the vibrant culture at Econo-Pak.
Jessica Alves’ Journey at Econo-Pak
Sarah: Welcome to the Econo-Pak podcast. I’m Sarah, the Sales and Marketing Coordinator here at Econo-Pak. Today, we’re going to be interviewing Jessica Alves, the Material Supervisor. So, Jessica, can you tell us about your journey at Econo-Pak and how you’ve progressed from your initial role to where you are today?
Jessica: Thank you very much for having me here today. I started working at Econo-Pak eight years ago. When I came here, I started as a line worker. It was kind of hard for me because, at that point, my English wasn’t great. I’m still learning, but it was especially challenging then. I worked on the line for two years, and then I started working as an operator. After almost three years, I moved to ticket writing at shipping, and now I’m working as a Supervisor for the Material Department, which is awesome. It was kind of hard, but thank God I had the opportunity to do it.
Strategies for Success: Learning and Adapting
Sarah: That’s awesome. So, how did you overcome the language barrier here? Can you share some of your strategies or experiences that helped you improve your skills?
Jessica: It’s kind of funny because I started my relationship with English when I was younger. I love rock and roll, so it was everything for me. I remember singing the songs and then translating and learning words here and there. In school, I had some English classes, but they were so basic. So, when I came here, the first thing I did was watch TV, radio, phone — everything in English — even if I didn’t understand it. I also started taking courses at night while working two jobs, studying one to two hours a day. My personality helps a little bit because I’m not afraid of talking. If I made a mistake, I would ask everybody to please help me do better, and everybody did. And then, falling in love with an American guy helped a lot because I started talking a lot more.
Sarah: That is so cool. What were your favorite songs?
Jessica: I love Queen, and my mom used to like Elvis Presley a lot. The Police, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac… yeah, all those.
Career Progression: From Line Worker to Material Supervisor
Sarah: As a materials assistant, what are your current responsibilities, and how do they differ from what you did before?
Jessica: I started working as a Material Assistant, and now I’m a Supervisor. What I do is keep track of everything we receive. I have to be sure that what we’re receiving is in the right conditions, and the numbers we’re receiving are right. After every run, I give customer service an inventory on everything. So, I work really closely with customer service all the time; we work together, and that’s basically what I do now.
At the beginning, I started dropping cookies, something that I loved to do. I can tell you that I enjoyed every step of my way here at Econo-Pak. I was really happy dropping cookies, and when I was doing that, I started learning how the packaging was, what we need. I’m a curious person, I like to know a little bit of everything. Running a line gave me other tools, like knowing what I need to run the line, how that works from beginning to end. And then as a ticket writer, I learned how to receive products, how to ship out products. So, everything came together, and I use everything that I learned today for doing my job.
The Role of Teamwork and Technology in Job Efficiency
Sarah: What do you do to ensure efficient inventory management? Are there any specific strategies or tools that you rely on?
Jessica: For me, something that is very important is teamwork. I couldn’t do this by myself. In the Materials Department, we are five people working together, and all of them are awesome. We do everything together. I love math, so I love numbers. I’m happy counting every day. When I receive something, I’m very careful to check the packing slip, to do a physical count, to know exactly what I’m receiving. This way, when they run and use what we receive, I’m going to have an accurate inventory. Another thing is to try to be as organized as we can, having everything marked, everything ready to go, because we have three shifts here. We need people from the second or third shift to be able to find everything easily, and that makes it easy for everybody.
Sarah: I know that our General Manager has been working on scanning in our warehouse. How does that affect your job?
Jessica: Actually, that’s going to be awesome for us. It’s going to be a lot easier. It’s going to be a learning process, absolutely, but I’m sure we’re going to take advantage of that and we’re going to make it better.
Sarah: In your role, you interact with a bunch of different teams, not only internally but also with the truckers, right?
Jessica: Oh yes. We are like a chain. Every little piece in that chain is so important, and that’s the way it works. Talking about the truck drivers, some of them are part of the family; they come all the time. We call each other by name. Regarding the different areas I work with, like inventory and having all the materials they need, I work with each one. I work with production; they call me all the time asking, “Do we have this?” because sometimes they have a number they need to run. Customer service lets me know if we have a trial coming, what I’m going to receive, how many things I’m going to receive, and we’re talking all the time. So, I depend on them, and they depend on us. It’s a 50/50 with everybody.
Embracing Diversity: The Power of Inclusive Workplaces
Sarah: Given your experience coming from a non-English-speaking background, what role do you think diversity and inclusion have in our workplace?
Jessica: It’s very important. I consider myself lucky to be in the right place. Econo-Pak has given me chances to grow. This company has grown so fast and is still growing. When I came here, we were not too many people, but now it’s getting bigger and bigger. You have so many people who are prepared for something better than what they are doing now. Most of the people that I work with on the line now have positions in this company, and it’s amazing. I can tell people with an English barrier or something like that, that you have to believe and work on it. I’m speaking with you now, and it wasn’t for free. I work, I study, I try every day to get better. In America, you have a saying: “Work hard, pay off.” For me, that’s a reality. You have to work hard and keep believing in yourself and believing that everything is possible.
The Importance of Positive Energy and Hard Work
Sarah: What amazes me is that you have such a positive spirit about it all. Every time I see you, it brings a smile to my face because you just have such infectious positive energy. So, combining that with your work hard motto, it’s a great combination.
Jessica: That’s great because, you know, we all have situations in life. We might be going through something, but every time I cross that door to work, I try to put a smile on my face, not only for myself but for the people around too. I believe in energy, so I want great energy around because it makes everything better.
Advice for Newcomers: Navigating Career Challenges
Sarah: What advice would you give to someone just starting their career at Econo-Pak, especially if they face language or cultural barriers?
Jessica: I can tell them, like I told you before, that everything is possible. If you had asked me eight years ago if I was going to be a Material Supervisor, I would have laughed and said, “Yeah, right, you’re funny.” I don’t really know how it happened. I take it day by day. I work today and today I do my best and I try my best. For me, there are two kinds of workers: those who come to work for eight hours to get paid, and those who come to work because all of us need the money, but there’s something about pride in what you do every day. I like to go home and know that I tried my best and I did everything I have. And I can tell people to really do your 100%, your 120%, one step further. You can do that; we all can do that. It’s an everyday work, and then the results are coming. They are on their way, but you have to work today for a better tomorrow.
Reflecting on Lessons Learned: Personal and Professional Growth
Sarah: Reflecting on your time at Econo-Pak, what would you say are the most valuable lessons you’ve had, both personally and professionally?
Jessica: That’s kind of hard. There are so many good things, but I learned so much from people. There are so many stories in every place that I worked, like on the line, as an operator. Those are the best teachers you’ve got. We’ve got to learn to listen sometimes and pay attention. At Econo-Pak, I learned, actually, it’s kind of funny because I got a feeling that I know myself better because of the opportunities that I have. Maybe I didn’t believe in myself before, but now I know that I’m capable of so many things. Even sometimes when you start getting older, and you feel like your life or your future is no longer like, “Oh, I’m going to stay here.” No, that’s not right. So now, I see myself, and I see a future. I still believe. So, I’ve got to say the most important lesson is that I believe in myself more than ever now.
Sarah: That’s powerful. So, we have a couple of positions open right now at the time of the recording. How would you describe what it’s like working at Econo-Pak for someone who might be interested in applying?
Jessica: Well, for me, it’s great working here, really. And now that you ask me that, I was thinking about when I started having different positions, how patient they were with me, especially about my English and the language barrier. They were so patient with me, and sometimes they looked at me like, “What are you saying?” But then they gave me the time and helped me to grow. This is a place where you can grow, a place that will give you chances. They listen to you. Yeah, it’s great working here. For me, it changed my life. It really did change my life.
Sarah: Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Jessica. I really appreciate getting to learn more about you and your story, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.
Jessica: Thank you so much, Sarah, for having me here. Thank you, Econo-Pak, for giving me the chances that I got. And I’ll keep trying my best. Thank you.
The Impact of Opportunity and Support at Econo-Pak
As we wrap up this insightful conversation with Jessica Alves, it’s clear that her journey at Econo-Pak is more than just a career progression. It’s a story of resilience, adaptability, and relentless pursuit of personal and professional growth. Jessica’s experience underscores the importance of a supportive work environment that values diversity and provides opportunities for learning and development.
Her journey is a source of inspiration for anyone facing challenges in their career, reminding us that with hard work, a positive attitude, and a supportive community, anything is possible. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories and insights from the heart of Econo-Pak.