Beth Rollins Spotlight: Get Curious and Collaborative to Manufacture Results

Beth started her career with DENSO in 1998 in Production Control Logistics at DENSO’s manufacturing facility in Maryville, Tennessee. After two years, she moved into a Quality Engineering role. From there she went on to support with the opening of a new facility on the Maryville campus, and then transitioned into her first leadership role in Total Industrial Engineering. She then left DENSO for six years before coming back into a Manufacturing Strategy & Planning role, and later transitioned into Excellent Factory Planning. In 2022, she was promoted to her current position as senior manager of Logistics Engineering & Innovation.

Here’s more on her journey, in her words:

Logistics Engineering & Innovation
The Logistics Engineering & Innovation group is focused on managing and moving materials efficiently from beginning to end – from the minute we receive materials from suppliers, to when we ship products to our customers. The group continuously looks for ways to automate systems and processes to improve the flow of goods.

Be Curious
To get work done and achieve our goals, we need to ask questions, believe in the best in others, and give them the benefit of the doubt. It all goes back to being curious. 

I’m a strong believer in going to the source. If there is an issue or concern, I go to the person or place directly to see what’s going on. Talking to someone directly and respectfully, and asking questions, is the best way to understand deeply and move forward. It’s ok to ask difficult questions or have difficult conversations – this is productive and many times needed to gain a deeper understanding. 

We all come to work wanting to do our best and contribute. We may have different experiences or knowledge. We need to see where there are gaps in our knowledge and how we can capitalize on the skills that each unique person brings to work, and use that to help make DENSO successful. It all comes down to being curious.

Breaking Silos
When I transitioned into my current role, we started working with automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and automated mobile robots (AMRs). Our team realized there were similar activities taking place at other facilities across the region. 

We decided to get curious and collaborative. We put together a cross-functional team with members from each site to meet regularly and learn from each other, ask questions, discuss common struggles, and share ideas. Together, the group moves much more quickly investigating new technologies and making improvements. 

One of my strengths, and something I enjoy most in my role, is my ability to bring people together and make connections, to help break down silos. If I hear someone is struggling in one area, I try to connect them with someone who has had a similar experience or who might have a solution. 

I’m passionate about doing this within my group, but also across the organization in my work as co-chair for the LE@D Business Resource Group. “Ladies Excelling @ DENSO” was born from a discussion I had with a fellow engineer, my co-chair April Banner. When I moved into a leadership role, there weren’t many other female leaders I could turn to for mentorship and support. That’s when April and I decided to create a space for women and our allies across the organization to come together to learn, share our experiences, and support one another.

Making a Difference
The transition to automation has been challenging. Technology is changing so fast, it’s challenging to keep up and balance finding the best solution with our desire to standardize across DENSO. 

What is rewarding is the role that logistics and supply chain play in our company, and society. We have great opportunities to find solutions to make our teammates’ lives better. 

I am proud to be part of an amazing team working toward this. We all bring different skills that, when combined, help make us an incredibly strong team. 

Q: What do you like working at DENSO?

A: DENSO is very future focused. We care about our people, their safety, their future. DENSO is also such a large organization, which provides so much opportunity for growth, whether progressing within your department or working in different groups across the organization.

On Working with Beth, Chris Ramsey, Vice President of Manufacturing in Maryville, Tennessee, says:

Beth is a great leader who values the input and insights of her team and others. She is sure to invite everyone into the discussion and decision-making, leading to an open and collaborative culture that drives to the best decisions. I appreciate her willingness to advocate for others and help us see different perspectives that may have been unintentionally ignored. This has been valuable in our pursuit of logistics and warehousing automation and innovation. 

As a leader, she has to keep the big picture in view, so the strategies and solutions we create can work for everyone. Her determination and work ethic inspire me and others to think what more we could be. Inclusive and determined leadership, like Beth’s, is a model for how we all could lead and work together more effectively.