International Women’s Week means more at ARCH

Women in manufacturing ... in their own words

“I’m glad I chose the path I did.”

Michelle Connolly joined ARCH in 2011, first serving as Controller for ARCH Cutting Tools – Plymouth (formerly Richards Micro-Tool) and later as ARCH – Director of Finance before her appointment as Vice President Finance. She earned her bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She is a Certified Management Accountant.

Michelle Connolly in ARCH facility
Why did you choose your career path?

In high school, I was looking for an alternative to trigonometry, and accounting qualified as the necessary math credit. Seriously, however, I excelled in my business courses in high school and decided on a college major in accounting, given the opportunities and flexibility for different career paths with an accounting degree. I briefly considered art school, but I decided not to take that risk. I’m glad I chose the path I did.

Did you have a mentor?

I’ve had several mentors throughout my career, and some may not have realized it. My first mentor, when I began my career, was important because he helped me establish the foundation that I continue to build upon today and use to help others. Briefly, it was advice to maintain a strong balance sheet. Pay attention to the detail there, and everything else will fall into place. I still have mentors today, in a way, because I learn every day from the people I work with.

How do you balance personal and professional life?

That balance can be difficult to achieve. Thankfully, I have a supportive and understanding family that can manage when I’m traveling or working late into the night. Our society places certain pressures on working mothers, no matter what their career, to “do it all.” Realistically, that’s impossible, and I’m a long way off from being able to do that. However, I focus on what’s important with my family and make sure that’s always a priority.

How do you manage stress?

Personal time is important for that. Every Friday night, I have a “date night” with my husband. We go to our favorite restaurant, talk and reconnect, which we often don’t have time to do during the busy week.

Do you have any advice for the younger you?

That’s a tough question. I wouldn’t change any decision I made when I was younger—right or wrong—because those decisions led me to where I am today. I think I’d tell my younger self, “Stay true to yourself, treat others the way you want to be treated, and trust that your decisions will lead you where you are supposed to be.”

“Keep things in perspective.”

Lori Lorant spent nearly five years with ARCH before her appointment as Vice President Human Resources and previously served as Employee Relations Manager and Director of Human Resources. She earned her bachelor’s in business, management, marketing, and related support services from Central Michigan University, and she holds Society for Human Resource Management–SCP certification. She is experienced in talent management, employee relations, strategic planning, succession planning, multi-site and multi-state HR leadership, due diligence relating to mergers and acquisition activity, and on-boarding and the integration of employees from new companies.

Lor Lorant in ARCH facility
Why did you choose your career path?

Early in my career, when I was working in the consumer retail industry, a manager recognized I was able to connect well with the people who reported to me and suggested that I had the leadership skills that could lead to a successful HR career. This manager encouraged me to pursue a career in HR because they thought I could have a positive influence on people and help them achieve personal and company goals.

Did you have a mentor?

Yes. My mentor was Jean Sinclair. She was the manager of a department store when I was in charge of HR. She taught me to lead by example—she asked for input, listened to people and made everyone feel like respected members of her team. I didn’t want to let her down. This is the type of leader I’ve always strived to be. I don’t believe that intimidating people is productive. I believe you get the best results when you set high expectations, work hard yourself as an example, and expect the best from your team while making work enjoyable and rewarding.

How do you balance personal and professional life?

I may not have been doing as good a job of this as I should lately because ARCH is growing rapidly, and we’ve all been working so hard. But I believe, and I remind others, that it’s important to have an enjoyable personal life. Personally, I enjoy exercise, outdoor activities, spending time with my family and friends, and traveling. At ARCH, we’ve added team members as we’ve grown; I’m hoping to set a better example for them in this regard as we go forward.

How do you manage stress?

Like everyone, I do get stressed, but I try to keep it under control. I am naturally level-headed; however, when I do feel stressed, I exercise and make it a point to get more sleep, which always helps.

Do you have any advice for the younger you?

Keep things in perspective. You learn from the tough times and become a more compassionate person. Be patient—things will work out.

American Manufacturing, Serving the World