For our third honoree, SigmaNEST introduces Nicole Walden. Walden works as the Manufacturing Support Manager at Astec, Incorporated. Astec opened its doors as a startup in 1972, and has since become a leading asphalt mixing plant that prides itself on being a “customer-driven company.” Walden fell in love with the industry as a little girl as she watched her dad work as a maintenance man.

“My dad was a maintenance man by trade and his ability to fix things, even when they were broken beyond repair, peaked my interest at a very early age.  I loved figuring out how things worked and what kept them working properly over time.  Thus, my passion for problem-solving, software and figuring out how to optimize situations was born.”

After immersing herself in the engineering industry, Walden was given the opportunity to make a significant career change into manufacturing. She made the jump with little hesitation and has never looked back.

“It was obviously going to be a different set of challenges than I was used to, but the unknown portion of the transition intrigued me more than the fear of the unknown.”

Walden has been at Astec since 2011. She is currently working on a large-scale purchase, installation and implementation of a manufacturing revitalization project that will reevaluate the shop’s current work flow and handling of raw materials.  The goal is to use less floor space, allowing space for additional equipment while also increasing capacity and streamlining the material handling process.

Walden extends some very pragmatic advice to women joining the manufacturing industry:

“Take what you are passionate about and desire to be the best you can be in that area.  Do not underestimate yourself or your abilities.  Take being different from the norm in manufacturing and make it your own, Walden encourages.”

Walden’s tenacity and love for improvement are evident through her explanation of her responsibilities and goals at Astec. What an awesome employee!


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