After childhood dreams of being a doctor, Supplier Management Engineer Daniela Rodriguez found a career path that blends her skills in math and her passion for problem-solving by helping others through medical technology. Daniela explains her journey to mechanical engineering and Mammotome, her involvement in Danaher’s LatinX + Friends Associate Resource Group, and why considering gender and race is crucial to providing quality medical care.
Mammotome is a global leader in breast cancer diagnostics and surgical solutions. We pioneered vacuum-assisted breast biopsy, which improved breast cancer diagnostics, as well as the overall patient experience because the procedure is minimally invasive. It was a real game-changer in the industry.
I’m a supplier management engineer, which means I’m the bridge between our contract manufacturing suppliers and us. Day-to-day, I facilitate conversations with our contract manufacturers, everything from helping out with quality changes to delivery issues. In our group, we like to call ourselves firefighters, because when issues arise, we’re the first to know. We put out the fires by finding solutions, both in the moment and for the long term.
I also created and now oversee our obsolescence program, which addresses parts of our equipment from suppliers that are getting older and maybe going out of production, not recommended for new design, or parts that are hard to procure. We try to forecast the demand and find alternates if possible. It’s a cross-functional effort within our company—everybody’s involved.
My work is very dynamic. Every day is different, which is why I enjoy my job. It keeps my blood pumping!
Part of it is that engineering runs in my family: My father was a mechanical engineer. He’d studied and worked in the U.S. but later moved back to Colombia, married my mom and had me. When I was a teenager, we immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia in pursuit of a better life. Math and science were always my strongest subjects—I think partly because they’re universal. It didn’t matter that I was learning them in my second language. I’d always wanted to be a doctor because identifying and solving problems fascinated me, and problem-solving is also what drove me to love engineering. Engineering allowed me to combine my passion for medical work with my skills in math. So I became the first female engineer in my family.
After getting my degree in mechanical engineering, I got a job at a contact lens manufacturer. That was in Atlanta, where I went to school. Eventually, I made my way to Ohio. I have family near Cincinnati, which is a major biomedical hub, with companies like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, and, of course, Mammotome. I knew about Mammotome’s top-of-the-line products, but what really attracted me was the cause and how the company puts patients first.
Being a woman, the issue of breast cancer hits close to home. On one hand, it doesn’t matter what your social, racial, or political background is. Cancer is something that is a risk to all of us. On the other hand, Hispanic women are one of the least likely groups to seek out preventative measures for breast cancer. There are lots of reasons—finances, language barriers, lack of health insurance—but, as a Hispanic woman, this issue really speaks to me.
Knowing that we are impacting women’s lives motivates me to get up each morning and do the best I can.
When I first started here, Danaher Business System (DBS) tools quickly oriented me with the basics, so I could hit the ground running. From there, I was blessed with a great team and manager who helped me. I learn by asking questions. I’m definitely not a shy person when it comes to not knowing things, and the culture at Mammotome welcomes people who want to learn, to know more, and to continuously improve. Furthermore, my boss trusts me to take on new tasks, while still providing guidance if I need it. Their management style really works well for me, and we get along great.
The obsolescence program is a great example of a task he gave me to really take on and make my own. Before I started, people would talk through a list of components every week, but we’ve improved the process by adding timelines, clarifying end goals, and allocating resources. Now, the obsolescence program has become one of our biggest cross-department meetings and has helped prevent serious supply chain obstacles. Sourcing components remains an ongoing challenge, not only because of the pandemic but also due to other global crises like a water shortage in Taiwan, where half of the world’s semiconductors are made, for example. But the program has done a lot, and it’s something that I’m very proud of owning and working on.
Finally, I’ve also grown in terms of advocacy. I’m heavily involved within the company with Danaher’s LatinX + Friends Associate Resource Group (ARG), Mammotome Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. My focus is to advocate and get more Hispanic women into roles like mine. Mammotome has an initiative to diversify personnel, and I want to contribute to that change.
Women, especially women of color, are underrepresented in STEM. That data speaks for itself, but I also learned about the additional challenges we face from an early age, when my father explained, “You have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good.” I think times are changing, and I want to see and be a part of that change. That’s why it’s important for me to be part of the LatinX group. No one else in my direct department is in that ARG, so I like to keep people informed about what we do.
I think people forget how diverse Hispanic identities are, especially in Latin America. Sometimes people can’t find my home country, Colombia, on a map, or they misspell it with a “u.” If you put a Colombian, an Argentinian, and a Mexican person in a room, we’re all going to speak differently and have different customs. So with the LatinX + Friends ARG, I get to learn more about other cultures while also teaching fellow associates about my own. We’re proud of our Hispanic heritage 365 days a year, not just in October. It can be hard to have conversations about race, especially for me, as someone who is non-confrontational. I’m trying to learn—by taking courses and just through better understanding—how to handle a room and get my point across without it being too personal or too emotional.
As a Colombian, I want to create a positive memory for people. And as a woman, too. There weren’t a lot of female engineers as role models for me growing up, but those few that were there, like my professors in college, really inspired me. I’d like to be an inspiration for future generations.
I’m excited to connect more in person. I started just a few months before the pandemic hit, so most of my work has been online. That meant I was able to work from Colombia for several months and spend a lot of time with my family, which was wonderful. But I’m definitely a people person, and, once it’s safe, I would love to get more involved with Mammotome’s volunteer events in the community, maybe even create new volunteer opportunities. Data shows that Hispanic women respond more to community-based programs that promote proper breast care and early breast cancer detection, so this work is vital and important for my own advocacy goals.
Right now, I’m focused on doing my best work and learning from my peers. I would like to continue down my path at Danaher, which may lead to becoming a subject matter expert or, eventually, a people leader. I like to think I’m someone people can trust and communicate with. Being that type of leader inspires me, and I think with proper training I could be very successful in that role. Thanks to Danaher’s tools, I’ve been able to take some courses, and I know there is a guided path forward for career growth.