Stepping up to the plate

2022 STEP Ahead Awards

Written by: Andy Sharfman

"How did I make it here?”


That’s a question Madison Miller and Emily Connor were asked to consider after receiving the STEP Ahead Award — a recognition presented to 130 women across the U.S. in 2022. Each honoree was selected based on their leadership and contributions to the manufacturing industry. 

Both Covestro employees reflected on the question by sharing their sources of inspiration, their passion and their career journeys.


The interview was conducted by Andy Sharfman, Communications Americas.

Who helped you to believe in yourself and your abilities?

Madison Miller: “For me, that person was my mom. I distinctly remember something she would tell me every day before school: ‘Be good and do your best.’ I’ve carried that advice with me throughout my life and career.”

Emily Connor: “I had a chemical engineering professor who was really open about the realities of being a female in the profession. She spoke about balancing family life with work life and how she chose to take time off to raise her kids. No matter the obstacles, she prioritized the needs of herself and her family while achieving success in her career which was really inspiring.”

What makes you passionate about the field of manufacturing?

Madison Miller: “Everything that has been mass produced for the public has come from its upscaling in manufacturing. I hold the belief that for us to continue to evolve and advance as a society, we have to keep innovating new products and services for the public.”

Emily Connor: “Manufacturing makes it possible for us to produce materials that people interact with daily. Seeing those visible applications in the world is what drew me to Covestro in the first place.”

Mentorship seems like a common theme your work. Why is that important to you and what does good mentorship look like to you?

Emily Connor: “I’ve had many female mentors in my life and that has inspired me to pay it forward in the work I do. One way I’ve gotten involved is through a mentoring non-profit called “Strong Women, Strong Girls.”

“Through the program, we teach girls how science can be fun and exciting through experiments like making ice cream. I want to help these girls question aspects of our ordinary lives by asking questions like “how does this work?” My goal is to help them lean into their curiosity.”


Culture seems like a really important focus for you. What motivates you to help Covestro shape its culture?

Madison Miller: My passion for creating a strong culture comes from personal experience. When I first started out, I was the only female engineer in my group. That experience has taught me how important it is to create a supportive and welcoming environment for everyone. 

The moment I’m most proud of is related to this goal. Back in 2020, I helped to create a Black Employee Network group. It all started with an email to the president and—after that—we were able to create really meaningful programming and connections through this group.

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