Cascades is made up of close to 11,000 women and men who work in over 90 production units in North America and Europe. Among all these Cascaders, we find people with very different personalities and profiles: mothers, young professionals, dedicated sportsmen and women, and so on. This month, to mark International Women’s Day, our team is featuring Émilie Allen, General Manager of Cascades Sonoco, a Cascades joint venture.
We conducted a short interview with Émilie. Get to know this inspiring Cascader a little better!
Cascades: Émilie, what is your educational background?
Émilie: I have a DEC (college diploma) in music and a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Université Laval.
Cascades: What has been your career path up to now?
Émilie: I began my career as an energy efficiency project leader at Cascades Ingénierie et projets after completing my studies in 2002. In 2005, I had my first child. During my maternity leave, I saw a job posting for a production supervisor at Norampac Kingsey Falls. I’d been wanting to work in a plant. I applied, and got the job! Then, in 2008, I was looking for experience in management. So I applied for the position of manager at the Energy Group. I wanted to see how I would react to pressure, and I learned a lot! In the meantime, I had my second child. I was later made Corporate Director, Energy. In 2012, baby number three arrived. While on maternity leave, I applied for a job as plant manager, and that is how I became manager of the Cascades-Sonoco plant, Kingsey Falls division. Lastly, in October 2016, I was appointed General Manager of Cascades Sonoco.
Cascades: What does your work as General Manager entail?
Émilie: Currently, I supervise four plants (Kingsey Falls, Birmingham in Alabama, Tacoma in Washington State and Berthierville). My role is to make sure that the plants are profitable and have the best operating costs. I direct my plants’ long-term development and strategic plans. I also have to ensure that Cascades’ projects and objectives are implemented and complied with in the plants.
Cascades: How did you make your way in an environment dominated by men?
Émilie: I just remained natural, that’s all. I don’t feel I deliberately acted in a particular way. For as long as I can remember, I have always preferred activities that were non-traditional for women. At the age of 6, I was asking for Tonka toys for Christmas! I’ve always been interested in baseball and hockey. I am one of four sisters, and I am the tomboy of the group! My decision to go into engineering and to work in plants led me to work with guys, and I’ve always been immersed in that environment.
Cascades: What advice would you give to a girl who is attracted by the world of engineering?
Émilie: Stay true to yourself. I am a sensitive and emotional woman, even if I work with a bunch of guys!
Cascades: What’s your next career objective? Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years’ time?
Émilie: I’m not yearning for any particular position. I’d like to be more mature, get better results, and have a better knowledge of the company so that I can steer things in the right direction, so that Cascades makes the right decisions. I just want to do my best.
Cascades: And where does your family come in? How do you reconcile work and family?
Émilie: Well, it definitely takes effort. I am lucky that my partner is self-employed and works from home, but even so, it’s a juggling act! My eldest boy is now old enough to babysit the younger ones, which helps. We also have good friends and good neighbours who lend a hand!
Cascades: What are your interests and leisure activities?
Émilie: I run. I try to keep fit, because it’s important to me and because the greater my responsibilities, the more concentration I need. Sport helps a lot. I’ve always been a music lover, but I don’t make music as often as I would like! I play piano and flute.
Cascades: For you, what does being a Cascader mean?
Émilie: Being part of a team, a big family. From the moment I arrived, I made strong friendships. I work as if the company belonged to me. Cascades’ values are mine too.
Cascades: Since most of our Cascaders have an ecological turn of mind, but nobody is perfect… What is your environmental leaning?
Émilie: I consider myself to be very ecologically minded in my life. I compost, I reuse, I repair clothes for myself and my kids. All that is very important to me. Working in energy efficiency, I really felt I was making a difference for the environment. On the other hand, I often tell my partner, “Go put another log in the stove, I’m freezing!” I’m one of those people who feels cold all the time!