Company: Praxair, Inc.
Location: Tonawanda, N.Y.
Susan Kelley joined Praxair, Inc. in 1992 as an Operations management trainee at the Theodore, AL facility. She was promoted to plant engineer in 1993, where she was responsible for small projects and day-to-day operation of the facility. During this time, she helped to implement the ISO9000 quality system at several facilities. In 1996, she was transferred to Praxair’s central engineering office in Tonawanda, N.Y., where she began specifying equipment for new production facilities of various sizes. After several years, she was shifted from project work to the revision of global equipment standards. In 2001, she rejoined the U.S. Operations team as a Cost Reduction engineer. In this role, she estimated, solicited funds for, and executed projects of varying complexity to reduce production costs, primarily focusing on reduced power consumption and increased equipment reliability. She also provided non-project technical support for the production facilities. After 10 years in this position, she transferred to her current position as a member of the mechanical integrity team.
Ms. Kelley was born in Florida and grew up in north and south Georgia, finally settling into the Atlanta suburban area when she reached her teens. She always enjoyed science classes, and in high school she discovered a love of chemistry, but did not have much desire for labs and lab reports. When a family friend mentioned that engineering was a real-world application of science, she was intrigued and applied to GA Tech as a chemical engineering student. She worked as a co-op student at Hoechst Celanese in Spartanburg, S.C,. in addition to her studies at Georgia Technical School. The Polymer QA department gave her a chance to gather real world experience which she highly valued. She also worked 20 hours per week on campus at the postal station to supplement her grants and scholarships. Ms. Kelley became interested in Praxair during her job interviews during her senior year, and she was excited when they offered her a position in Mobile, Ala., just five hours away from her family.