KIm Ryan, President of Batesville.For the second time in as many years, Hillenbrand leaders were honored with Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production) Awards. The Manufacturing Institute recognized Kim Ryan, President of Batesville (a subsidiary of Hillenbrand, Inc.) and Darci Powers, Director of Lean Development, during a ceremony in Washington D.C.The STEP Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers throughout all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C-suite. The awards are part of a larger STEP Ahead Initiative implemented by the Manufacturing Institute to examine and promote the role of women in manufacturing through recognition, research, and best practices for attracting, advancing, and maintaining strong female talent.“I am humbled to be recognized as a leader in manufacturing with the STEP award,” said Ryan. “I hope this program’s intentional focus placed on women encourages future generations of young women to pursue careers in manufacturing.”This year, The Institute recognized 160 women from manufacturing organizations of all types and sizes. Honorees were nominated by their peers, company officials, or professional service firms based on specific contributions made, considering outcomes, such as increased revenues, reduced costs, greater productivity, and improved customer satisfaction.Ryan is an accomplished leader with more than 23 years of experience and expertise in manufacturing organizations. Named president of Batesville in 2011, Ryan sets an example for others by remaining focused on initiatives that create simplicity, alignment, and agility across the enterprise.“It’s an honor to be in the company of such an impressive group of women who are making a difference in their organizations,” said Ryan.Kim started her professional life with Batesville after graduating from Iowa State University and has spent more than two decades contributing to the success of the Batesville, Hillenbrand, and Hill-Rom organizations. She served as a senior executive in each company, leading a variety of functional areas, including finance, strategy, operations, information technology, and division management. Kim is equally active outside of work and in her local community. She serves on the board of Kimball International, Inc. (NASDAQ: KBALB) and as vice chair of the CREATE Foundation. She has also served on the boards of Margaret Mary Community Hospital, the Southeastern Indiana YMCA, and the Public Works Water Board.Darci Powers, Director of Lean Development at Hillenbrand.A nearly 15-year manufacturing veteran, Darci Powers has an outstanding background in Lean that she readily shares with others. She has maintained a 99 percent plus product fill rate while balancing Batesville’s investment in inventory and distribution costs. She recently moved into a new role as director of Lean Development for Hillenbrand, Inc.“Manufacturing is the ‘heartbeat’ of our company as we strive to deliver quality units to the customer – on time and at the lowest possible cost,” said Powers. “It is an honor to be recognized for my passion for Lean manufacturing. Through the awareness created by this award, I hope more women pursue a career in this industry. ”A recent survey from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that nearly 70 percent of American manufacturing companies have a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers. Manufacturing faces a serious skills gap, part of which can be attributed to an underrepresentation of women in the industry. While women make up approximately 50 percent of the overall labor force, that number is only about 25 percent in manufacturing.