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Spotlight: Women in the Paper and Wood Products Industry from Domtar

This month is Women's History Month, and our industry employs many inspiring women who develop, manufacture, design and market the products we rely on. Women are an invaluable piece of the paper and wood products industry, and we are excited to share with you their stories.

This spotlight will focus on two women from Domtar: Nancy Klembus, Vice President, Deputy General Counsel; Stephanie Morin, Windsor Mill Paper Machine Operation Manager.  

Why did you get into the paper and wood products industry?

Nancy: I got into this industry to support innovation, which is crucial in industries like ours. Great innovation can expand profitability and provide for future growth.

Stephanie: After an internship in a molded pulp mill, I noticed that I had an interest in this industry. First, you could be involved and exposed to all the different aspects of the manufacturing process, which for me opened a world of opportunities (design-optimization-product development-teambuilding-sustainability, etc.). Second, there was something tangible, a finished product to work towards. Third, I liked being close to the operations and working with the operators to solve issues, develop new products or optimize the operations. It allowed me to satisfy both my technical and soft skills sides. For me, each day is filled with new challenges and opportunities, you can’t get bored!

What does a woman’s perspective bring to the table?

Nancy: While every person brings a unique perspective to the table, it is the diversity of those perspectives that seems to drive better company performance. For example, there is ample evidence that Fortune 500 companies with the highest proportions of female executives generally perform better than Fortune 500 companies with the lowest proportions of female executives.

Stephanie: I think it’s important not to get too caught up in stereotypes because both men and women have important perspectives that are gender independent and, from my point of view, complementary. Collaboration is the key. I believe bringing the best out of each individual in a team encourages engagement and innovation. This can contribute to reaching new heights differently when faced with new challenges. Also, women are more tuned in to other people’s emotions. This can help in addressing situations before they escalate. It can also be useful in ‘’reading’’ situations and seeing, for example, that someone in the group doesn’t comprehend what is being said. Furthermore, having a different perspective can contribute to bringing to the table new ideas. Sometimes it takes more than one way of communicating to get a message across.

Why should women be a part of this industry? How is being a woman an asset to the industry?

Nancy: I think women should be part of every industry.

Stephanie: I believe all forms of diversity, whether it’s cultural, gender-based, or thought-based, should be valued by organizations. It is by looking at situations from different perspectives that we can find the best solutions. Women should be part of this industry because they bring not only a different perspective but can positively impact our ways of doing.

What advice would you give to women looking to elevate themselves into leadership positions?

Nancy: First, understand why you want that leadership position, and figure out if you will be happy doing that work. Second, don’t try to go it alone. Get a mentor (or two), get a coach, network, read blogs, and books on leadership. Third, get a broad range of experiences at your current level to prepare you for your next position. Lastly, don’t lose focus on the impact that you can make today, in your current role.

Stephanie: Determine what’s important for you. What are your values? What difference do you believe you can bring to the table? Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you—create them. Don’t wait to be perfect and have every credential asked for on the job posting. Use this as an opportunity to show your interest. Get inspired by reading books and articles on successful women, attend women leadership conferences [and] connect with other women in your workforce to discuss and encourage.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recycle resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative—Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures nearly $300 billion in products annually and employs approximately 950,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $60 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.