Welcome to the first post in our new Q&A series, “Women You Should Know”! First up to the mic: our colleague Theresa Houck, executive editor of The Journal from Rockwell Automation and Our PartnerNetwork™ magazine. In 2017, The Journal was named Best Custom Magazine in the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. You can meet Theresa Nov. 14-15 at the Automation Fair® Event in Philadelphia. (Heads up: While you’re Automation Fair®, be sure to stop by booth 1916 to take an IWIM selfie with our nifty props—and then share your photo on Facebook or Instagram using #IWIMROK for your chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card.)
IWIM: How did you arrive at what you’re doing today?
TH: My dad was an operating engineer on tractors; my mom was a nurse, in a small town of 15,000, Dixon, IL. When we were little, my dad would take us on Saturdays to (his) worksite and show us tractors and stuff. I was always interested in how things were made.
I got my bachelor’s in English, my master’s in communications. Since I was in seventh grade I knew I wanted to work in magazines, but I didn’t know about trade magazines. When I was graduating with my master’s, there was a job opening, and I got it, for a marketing position in a trade association. That was pretty interesting, because of my dad’s line of work.
I was there 14 years and got promoted along the way to chief editor of four magazines. (Later) I had an interview at Putman Media and got hired here. I like being in the trades because I still get to work on how things are made.
IWIM: Who are your greatest personal or professional influences?
TH: My mom and dad. They were both very smart and very hardworking and good people. And they raised us to care about other people. When people are kind and work hard and think of others, those are the people I look up to.
IWIM: You’ve had the chance to see several leaders from the highest levels of government speak—Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden among them. Who in particular stands out to you, and what comment did he or she make that still resonates with you?
TH: Joe Biden. And it’s not just because of a certain political belief, but the way he spoke—it was not prepared; it was a conversation. He quoted various people off the cuff. He spoke of peace; he spoke of compromise. He quoted Mandela, he quoted Gandhi, and other leaders who made a difference just by being quiet, peaceful, sensible and reasonable. He’s been through a hard life, too, and he’s not bitter.
IWIM: How do you see your role influencing the next generation of manufacturing leaders?
TH: My goal, and our editorial goal, is to put out content that’s helping these professionals do their job better. My parents were working people, and I feel like I’m a working person even though I’m sitting in a chair instead of out in the field. I like helping everyone from someone in the shop to someone on their computer to someone in the business office making strategy so that they can make things better and safer; they can provide for their family.
IWIM: How have you seen women’s visibility and the platform they’re given change in your time covering the industry?
TH: I started in the manufacturing industry almost 25 years ago. When I started, I was one of few female editors in the industry. So if I went to any conference, any trade show, or any plant tour, I was probably the only female except maybe their marketing person or secretary. Now, 25 years later, that’s not the case, but it’s still mostly male-represented. There still needs to be more women. This whole STEM movement I think is so worthwhile, because when you’re coming out of grade school or high school, you think manufacturing work is dirty factory work, but that’s just not the case anymore. It’s really hard to get that message across, especially if the parents don’t know it. A man or a woman can make a lot of money in manufacturing, with or without a degree.