In recognition of her leadership and contributions to the manufacturing industry, Covestro Baytown employee Neha Phadke was selected as a recipient of the “Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Award,” presented by the Manufacturing Institute. The STEP Ahead Awards honor women for their leadership and excellence at all levels of the manufacturing industry.
As a senior chemist for Covestro’s largest North American manufacturing site in Baytown, Phadke supports the Coatings and Adhesives business with process development, optimization, and troubleshooting. She’s a highly respected chemist at Covestro, whose technical knowledge and intrepid approach to problem-solving earned her a spot on several high-profile projects, globally.
Phadke was among 130 women nationally to be honored, which is part of the larger STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production) Ahead initiative. Launched in 2012, the initiative is the nation’s marquee program to close the gender gap in manufacturing. All of the award winners will be recognized during an awards gala November 4 in Washington, D.C.
“Neha is a great ambassador for Covestro’s Baytown site, both inside the facility and through her activity in the community,” said Demetri Zervoudis, head of operations North America and site manager of Covestro Industrial Park Baytown. “She is well-deserving of this national recognition and is serving as an excellent leader and role model to the next generation of women that we want to attract in our workforce.”
Covestro is one of the top producers of high-performance polymers in North America, and is part of the global Covestro business, which is among the world’s largest polymer companies.
As a young girl growing up in India, Phadke had to contend with cultural norms and expectations that didn’t support women pursuing higher education. Through her involvement in a week-long STEM education event hosted by Covestro in collaboration with the non-profit Greenlight for Girls, Phadke impacted more than 3,000 girls from 42 schools across India.
She also conducts science and math classes for the children of underprivileged farmers, drawing from her own experience as a certified organic farmer.
Phadke is making a difference in her local Texas community as well, where she serves on the leadership team for Covestro Baytown’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, sharing her own experiences to create greater awareness around the U.S. immigration process and offering herself as a resource for questions and support.
“Manufacturing creates possibilities to transform customer needs into reality,” said Phadke. “I enjoy working with global teams to develop innovative and sustainable solutions. It is rewarding to see your lab chemistry coming to life, which gives me hope for making the world a brighter place.”
“Women in manufacturing proved themselves time and time again after the pandemic began, leading our industry in innovation and progress. We will honor these manufacturing leaders with the STEP Ahead Awards, elevating their success and granting them a platform to inspire the next generation of women manufacturing leaders,” said Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee.