Now here’s a story you don’t hear connected to MI every day.
A woman who grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, studied medicine and later moved to England. This person’s medical specialty was cattle and sheep.
That is the story of Rotosound’s Kathy How. “Your ideals tend to change,” she said. “I realized I
had taken the wrong career path. Running around fields chasing cows and sheep wasn’t very attractive.”
She moved to England when her ex-husband decided living in South Africa was too dangerous due to the unrest. After arriving in England, How answered an ad in a local newspaper and obtained a job at Rotosound in 1995. “The job was located right near where I lived,” How said. “I thought it would be fun to do something totally different. When I was interviewed, I was told how overqualified I was for the position. But I did not want to return to practicing medicine. It did not appeal to me at all because, in England, I would need to go back to school to study for three more years. I also wasn’t really looking for a career at that time. I was just looking for something to pass the time. I did want to learn more about Rotosound, though.”
“I started at Rotosound by doing a little of everything,” she continued. “I worked in the packing department. I dispatched orders. I spent time working on the machines that make strings. I was well rounded.”
How went from answering an ad in 1995 to being the person without whom Rotosound absolutely could not run. She greases the wheels to make sure everything on the factory floor gets done. How is the vital cog in the company’s engine. She runs Rotosound’s factory floor.
How went from looking for something to “pass to the time” to finding her career. Many times, things don’t happen the way we first intended. She married Rotosound Chairman Jason How in 2000. “Rotosound is a great company to work for,” said How. “Jason is absolutely passionate about the business. That passion has rubbed off on all of us. He’s the one who keeps us all focused.”
Leader of the Pack
A female director of production is definitely not common in MI. In fact, this is the first time we’ve interviewed someone who held that position in Formidable Females. So are there any challenges or benefits to being a female floor leader? “When I first took over running the factory floor, it was a bit tricky,” How said. “I don’t think a female has ever done that. There was a group of men taking instructions from a female. So I had to be strict. But I like to think I run the factory floor on a very fair basis. We have a great team. But that was a challenge at the beginning.”
How loved the challenge because it “keeps you on your toes. I knew I had to earn the employees’ respect. I had to prove I knew how to do a lot of the work they were doing. I had spent a lot of time on the factory floor.
“Another thing I do is I always thank employees for work they’ve done well,” How continued. “Over the course of time, employees realized I might be a female, but I knew what I was doing.”
How added she’s the only female director at Rotosound and joked that means she’s “quite pampered.” “I can get away with things I couldn’t get away with if I were a male,” she joked. “So, being a female has its perks.”
Ownership Has its Privileges
How is one of four people with an ownership stake in the company. She said the company operates very well because the other three owners do their separate jobs so well and “we try not to interfere with each other’s territory.” Other than supervising every aspect of the factory floor, How sees every order that comes into the factory, gets all of the packing accomplished and more.
When How doesn’t oversee the factory floor or check on the accuracy of Rotosound’s orders, she is the director of planting, watering and overseeing for a garden in her yard at home. “We have a beautiful garden,” How said. “It’s quite large. I love tending to it.”
So, if you ever need gardening tips, you know whom to seek out at the NAMM show.
How also loves to travel. “I’m lucky,” she said. “I have a son who lives in Australia and a son who lives in Ireland. I love visiting them.”
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