A Minute With
Diana Perreiah, General Manager
of Kawneer North America
June 4, 2010
Perreiah, who took on the role of general manager for Kawneer North
America in Norcross, Ga., in April, has spent 24 years with the
company in a variety of roles, from plant manager to operations
manager to, most recently, vice president of business operations.
"I feel as though I have had several different careers without
having to change companies. Now I am able to take those experiences
and that knowledge and apply it to my current role as general manager
for Kawneer North America," Perreiah told USNN.com/USGlass
magazine in a recent interview.
Q: How did you get started in this industry?
A: My 24-year career in the aluminum industry began after
I graduated from Hollins University where I received my bachelor
of arts in computational science. Armed with a liberal arts degree
with an interest in technical fields, my mother encouraged me to
attend a job fair that focused on leveraging liberal arts degrees
in industrial and technical companies. Alcoa was at this job fair
and that was my introduction to the company and how my career in
the aluminum industry began.
Q: What duties does your new job include?
A: As general manager of Kawneer North America, I have the
overall responsibility to lead the business. Specifically, I am
responsible for guiding the executive management team and oversight
of company operations, as well as leading operational excellence,
capturing productivity gains and delivering exceptional customer
Q: What has been your first priority in your new role?
What are your goals for moving the company forward?
A: My first priority is to continue to pursue an aggressive
investment agenda. Recently, Kawneer embarked on a carefully planned
initiative to provide the best customer experience in the industry
and upgrade its service centers to provide greater flexibility.
We are committed to improving and expanding Kawneer's operational
capabilities, growing its wide range of products and solutions,
and advancing the company through technology and people. And we
are seeing the results of that commitment. Our investment in new
product development is beginning to pay off and we expect to launch
a significant number of innovative, sustainable products in 2010.
Our more efficient footprint is delivering improved lead times and
Another ongoing goal of mine is to continue to strengthen Kawneer's
footprint and better position the company for the future. We need
to take complexity out of managing the business and fully take advantage
of our capacity to produce increased volumes and deliver a broader
range of products and services. That will ultimately result in a
Kawneer that is more responsive to market cyclicality and is more
capable of servicing our customers.
Q: What is one professional pet peeve?
A: To hear "I can't do that. That's impossible" is incredibly
frustrating to me. I like to look at how we can make the seemingly
impossible, possible. Markets continue to experience an unprecedented
decline. And even though there is a great deal we can't control,
it's important to focus on what we can control and what we can do
to create opportunities. Things like managing our investment strategy
and recognizing that people are our most important asset
Q: What advice would you give someone just starting
in the glass/aluminum industry?
A: Learn how your industry works through hands-on roles.
Try to get as broad experience as you can. If you aspire to lead,
the breadth of experience and knowledge you gain from a variety
of roles is invaluable when you are making bigger/broader decisions.
Bring an unrelenting passion for continuous improvement. Change
is inevitable so it is important to embrace it, to keep moving and
be a part of the change-from how work is being done to how a product
is being used in the industry. It's also important to constantly
renew and regenerate yourself. Learn something new at every opportunity
and recognize the importance of benchmarking-understand what drives
customers, markets and your competition. That's how you stay competitive
as a company as well as a person.
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