Winning the Heckel Award: A Personal Viewpoint
Dr. Ryntz attained a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Wayne State University and a Ph.D. in polymer/organic chemistry at the University of Detroit. Out of graduate school she joined the Dow Chemical Co., and has since worked at Akzo Coatings, Dow Corning, E.I. DuPont deNemours, and Ford Motor Co. She has been the recipient of many awards, including the Henry Ford Technology Award, The Engineering Society of Detroit’s Gold Award, several outstanding leadership awards, and several best paper and best speaker awards. Dr. Ryntz has authored over 75 publications, written three books and is named as the inventor on 17 patents. When asked how she has achieved such notoriety in her 17 years in the industry, she modestly explains: “Networking, listening skills, and connecting the scientific dots (kind of like working a crossword puzzle) have helped me to succeed in this industry.”
The degree and extent of your network, she explains, can significantly impact your ability to get a job done. “The knowledge already held by your colleagues, along with lessons learned and mistakes made, can save you a lot of time.” She is a mentor to several of her colleagues at Visteon, and participates in a Women in Automotive network event hosted by General Electric each year.
“The ability of people in the same industry to work as a team and share successes, as well as failures, allows us to move this industry forward in a much shorter time frame. I highly recommend that those people starting in this, or any industry, try to form a wide and varied network with other colleagues … it certainly is a key to success.” The ability to listen and effectively articulate customers’ needs is another attribute Dr. Ryntz continues to use as a mantra. “If you can effectively meet the needs of your customer, whether personally or professionally, in a timely manner, you are assured some degree of success,” she says. She continues to discuss the inability of people to effectively listen to their customer, often trying to push their own ideas or viewpoints onto products or services when they are not required. “One of my former colleagues taught me several years ago that you only need to meet the needs of your customer, and if you do so more quickly or better than your competition, you will be successful.”
As far as her prolific writing ability, she explains that reading scientific literature, thinking about complimentary technologies, and discussing ideas and technology with colleagues at work and in technical conferences has helped her excel. “It is very rare that we come up with a completely new technology,” she explains. “It is the ability to tie complimentary technologies together that make us successful.” Dr. Ryntz explains that she tries to keep abreast of technologies not normally thought to influence her immediate area: automotive plastic coatings. “The ink, adhesive and electronics industries have technologies that can be modified and effectively utilized in plastic coatings. It is kind of like playing Sherlock Holmes or putting crossword puzzles together: the pieces are there for those who see them.”
When asked what she would like to be remembered for, when and if she retires from this industry, she says heartily, “I would like to be known for pushing the coatings for plastics technology to new scientific heights, for making friends along the way, and for helping colleagues achieve their chosen degree of success.” It is not surprising that Dr. Ryntz, with these personality traits and humble approach to accolades achieved, was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Heckel award. I am certain that this is only the beginning of attainment of an already long list of awards so appropriately deserved.
Editor’s note: Dr. Ryntz spearheads the International Coatings for Plastics symposium, scheduled for June 4-6, 2001, in Troy, MI. For more information. call Harper Henderson at 248/244.6478.