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Colleen Cordova '82

Colleen Cordova

Former Vice President and General Manager of Wear Components, Kennametal

Class of '82

I have worked in manufacturing for 40 years. I am the proud mother of two children and have enjoyed demanding roles while working hard to cultivate family and friendships along the way. After earning my masters in engineering at Virginia Tech, I started out working as a product engineer in an AlliedFibers manufacturing facility. In the process of developing new products, I found that I had an affinity for selling product ideas to upper management and to potential customers. I set goals on running a business segment and thus went back to school to get my MBA. After two years in the financial department, I moved back into the business in marketing and sales, and then took a business directors role for WRGrace, a chemical company. I eventually wound up as president for ConformaClad, a small business in Kennemetal Inc. My responsibilities grew and my final position was vice president and general manager for Engineered Wear Components, a $300 million business with over 1,000 employees and 9 plants.

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How Virginia Tech equipped me for the "real world"...

The professors were very pragmatic and encouraged us to follow the 80/20 rule, while perfection is great, it is not needed to get an A. Better to complete all the tasks than be caught up in doing only one well.

 

Best part of being a Virginia Tech alum...

Going back to campus, having my daughter also go to Tech, and the school spirit.

 

Words of encouragement to a current Virginia Tech student...

Do your absolute best, enjoy what you do, and do it your own way. Constantly set a path forward but be willing to change directions.

 

Last book I read...

This Just Speaks to Me by Hoda Kotb

 

The last time I ventured out of my comfort zone...

I started playing pickleball (not an athlete), met some great new friends and found a new cause. The Center for Adoption Support and Education provides support and education for those in adoption and foster care, a community that needs our help in order to excel, and has so much to give.

 

My favorite quote...

Today is the day you worried about yesterday, and you are still standing.

This excites me the most about the future of my industry...

Manufacturing is cleaner, safer, and more efficient than ever and it is coming back to the U.S.A. with high paying steady jobs.

 

Biggest misconception about my job or industry...

That it is unpleasant and only men can succeed in it. It actually offers many varied professions and jobs, very high tech, and being a woman is an advantage as one stands out in the crowd.

 

The most formative experience I've had...

Global work - doing a turnaround in Brazil, running a plant in East Germany, and being on a board in India.

 

Top of my bucket list...

Having grandchildren, not just grandanimals.

 

A person who has inspired me...

My father who also earned his masters from Virginia Tech, and believed his daughters could succeed at anything they wanted to do.

 

What are you most proud of?

Being surrounded by wonderful family and friends while making a difference in the manufacturing world.

 


Media Contact:

Lindsey Haugh

(540) 231-6959

lhaugh@vt.edu