Meet Blanca Ortiz-Skelding – presented by PwC

Sr. Process Manager, Pfizer, Pharma & Biotech

What do you enjoy most about working in manufacturing? What I love most about working in manufacturing is having the opportunity to learn how things are made and seeing the finished product. I love that my role as process engineer gives me the opportunity to directly work on making everyday consumer products. When I worked in the food industry, I would always get giddy seeing the products I helped make/launch on the store shelf or in someone’s shopping cart. Here at Pfizer, it makes me proud to know I have a hand in making quality lifesaving medicines that are having an impact on someone’s life.

What attracted you to a career in manufacturing? Growing up I was drawn to figuring out how things worked. I can remember taking a broken VCR apart to see if I could fix it (which I did). In high school I was given the opportunity to attend a STEM summer program at UCLA and it was there that I learned about engineering careers. When I was in college I joined the co-op program and the first time I had to sign up for interviews, I realized I was primarily interested in talking to companies that made everyday consumer products. I landed my first co-op with a company that made personal care products and that’s when I became drawn to manufacturing. I was fascinated by how the products were made and wanted to learn more about how other products were made. I did two more co-ops with a pharmaceutical company and after I graduated college went into food manufacturing. A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to change industries and went into drug product manufacturing.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about creating their future in manufacturing? Manufacturing isn’t easy, it can be downright hard at times. It’s fast-paced and can be chaotic — changing direction in the blink of an eye. The fast-changing pace can drive some people crazy, but, if you’re like me then it’s actually a lot of fun. Every day can be something different. Manufacturing challenges you to learn, it challenges you to be flexible, it challenges you to be creative, it challenges you to juggle multiple priorities without letting any of them fall, it challenges you to build good relationships with all kinds of individuals inside and outside the company. You are always growing both technically and personally. I believe that for anyone that pursues a career in manufacturing the world is their oyster. You can go into the food industry, pharmaceutical, automotive, aerospace, clothing, personal care products, make-up, confectionary, etc., the list goes on and on, the opportunities are endless.

What put you on a path to a modern manufacturing career? I am a first-generation American. My dad is from Mexico and my mom is from Guatemala. I was the first one in my family to graduate high school and get a college degree. Neither one of my parents have beyond a sixth-grade education. I grew up bilingual. I didn’t learn to speak English until I was in the third grade. I grew up in a low-income home in East LA and then later in life in South Central LA. Both of these neighborhoods are known for their gang culture. It was through my parents’ encouragement and through hard work that I was able to overcome adversity and not become another statistic. I was able to get scholarships and loans to pay for my education. My hope in sharing my story is to inspire other young people to work hard, pursue their dreams and never give up.