Barbara L. VanderMolen, A. O. Smith vice president of finance for North America Water Heaters, will be recognized by The Manufacturing Institute with a Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Award on April 10.

The STEP Ahead Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry.

President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Wheeler said, “We’re thrilled that Barb is getting the recognition that she deserves. She has been a great conduit between our North America, India, and Europe teams, encouraging more international collaboration. She’s also been instrumental in expanding the A. O. Smith Women’s Resource Network to other countries, such as India and Canada.”

VanderMolen has finance and accounting responsibility for the North America, India, Europe, and export areas of the business. This group represents a significant portion of the revenue and profit for A. O. Smith and operates in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, India, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Her role includes leading analytical and pricing teams that provide business and financial insight and ensures business decisions are based on solid financial criteria.

VanderMolen joined A. O. Smith in 2008 as director of financial planning and analysis for the former Water Products Company. She was recently appointed to the advisory committee of the A. O. Smith Women’s Resource Network, an initiative created to further develop women’s talents and leadership capabilities. In 2016, she was recognized in the Supply House Times Women in Industry Top 20, in addition to earning the Nashville CFO award by the Nashville Business Journal in 2015.

“I am honored and grateful to receive this STEP Award, but I know that business or personal success cannot be achieved alone. I am proud to work for a fantastic company that attracts and retains many talented people. And with our development initiatives at A. O. Smith, including the Women’s Resource Network, I am hopeful that more employees from our organization will be recognized in the future,” VanderMolen said.

The STEP Ahead Awards are part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative, launched to examine and promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research, and leadership for attracting, advancing, and retaining strong female talent.

The Manufacturing Institute will recognize VanderMolen and all other recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards at a reception in Washington on April 10. The STEP Ahead Awards program will highlight each honoree’s story, including their leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing.        

VanderMolen is the second A. O. Smith employee to receive a STEP Ahead award. Carol Peters, director-operations at the company’s Johnson City, TN plant, was recognized with a STEP Ahead award in 2013 in her previous role as production manager.