When you’re well established in your profession and start a new job in a new industry, it can be challenging for anyone; perhaps even more so when a woman starts a new career in a predominantly male industry. Imagine what it was like for a 25-year-old woman with just a couple years of professional experience, none of which had anything to do with glass. That was me.

My glass industry career could have gone in a different direction–or ended before it began–had I gone to work for a different company. I’m grateful that in January 2000, the local paper’s classifieds section listed an assistant editor position for a nearby publishing company. They hired me, let me write (that’s what I really wanted to do), pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me opportunities to learn and grow. That was almost 23 years ago.

The job hasn’t been without challenges. Certainly being one of only a couple of women in the room at times wasn’t always easy. When I think about those first few months, I’m always taken back to one of my first work trips—the old Building Envelope Contractors Educational Seminar for Project Managers that was organized by the former Glass Association of North America (GANA). I didn’t know anyone, but that evening I met someone who to this day is one of my best friends. Ashley Charest was the GANA account executive. She was one of just a couple of other females at the conference. We were about the same age and started in the industry around the same time; I believe she started a couple of months before I did. We quickly bonded and spent the next 15 years or so working together as industry friends and colleagues. While she’s no longer in the industry, we still stay in touch and support and encourage each other as professional women.

I have been thinking so much about working in this industry because the upcoming December issue of USGlass is our Women in the Industry edition. When we announced the plans for this issue on LinkedIn, the response and nominees of women to feature were amazing. I can’t even begin to describe it. We have been working on the content for weeks, and I’m excited to share the finished product, so stay tuned for that.

Of course, I wouldn’t be here at all if it wasn’t for the person who gave me my start in the first place. When I think of all the great leaders and visionaries in this industry—or any industry—I have to think of Deb Levy, USGlass publisher and president of Key Media & Research. I’m honored to be a part of this company and grateful for every opportunity she has provided me. Over the past year or so, we have hired some new members to our editorial team. I told them all early on that if you have the desire to grow and advance, and succeed, this company will provide you every opportunity and empower you to do so. You just have to want it and work for it. I am proof of that.