In our first Diverse episode during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) 2021, Margaret Omori, SWE’s Asian Connections Affinity Group Vice Lead, speaks with two newly elected SWE Directors, Jennifer Morikawa and Kalyani Mallela. In this powerful conversation, they discuss their Asian cultures, their involvement in SWE, their motivation behind stepping into director positions, and the “bamboo ceiling” that often hinders the careers of AAPI women.
Jennifer Chen Morikawa (guest)
Jennifer Chen Morikawa is a newly elected Director (FY22/23) for the Society of Women Engineers. For over 20 years, she served in numerous SWE leadership roles including president of the Detroit Section, the Society’s Awards & Recognition Chair, Region Governor, and WE Local Advisory Board member.
Jennifer earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering from Purdue University.
She is currently a senior manufacturing engineer and business planner for General Motors (GM) in Manufacturing Engineering. At GM, Jennifer leads by influencing leaders on multiple levels within her organization to actively manage short-term and long-term goals, fosters collaboration cross functionally and globally to share best practices and create efficiencies, and shares her process expertise to support business operations.
Kalyani Mallela (guest)
Kalyani is currently a director of research and development (R&D) for Ethicon, part of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Device companies. As a leader in the Robotics and Digital Solutions group, she owns instrument development, providing solutions to improve outcomes across a broad range of disease states. She leads both internal and external design partnerships for instrument and accessory development. She oversees design architects that drive key technical risks and issues interfacing the robotic capital system, test equipment and infrastructure to support all instrument development programs. Also within her sphere are franchise wide operations, including documentation specialists, contract negotiations, R&D services, and procurement. Kalyani is highly recognized as a strategic leader with operational excellence delivering high quality outputs. With extensive experience in the medical device industry she has worked on Class I, Class II, and Class III products within R&D, quality and regulatory functions at start-up, private and public companies.
Her passion is people. As a people-centric leader, Kalyani is known for building high-performing teams by developing an inclusive culture focusing on talent development, mentorship and coaching. This commitment to people and their growth is reflected in the number of initiatives and outreach she continuously participates in, both at work and in her free time.
As an advocate for women in engineering, Kalyani is an active SWE life member who has held multiple leadership roles at all levels of the society including Section President, Senator, Society Awards & Recognition Committee Chair, and Society Nominating Committee member. She is currently serving as a director on the SWE Board of Directors (BOD), where she hopes to drive the organization’s mission forward.
Margaret Omori (host)
Margaret Omori is the Vice Lead of SWE’s Asian Connections Affinity Group. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Yale University in 2016. She currently works at ExxonMobil as a project manager of environmental remediation projects in the US Northeast region. Margaret held several SWE leadership roles in her undergraduate section at Yale and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives at ExxonMobil through her participation in multiple Employee Resource Groups including the Women’s Interest Network (WIN), Asian Connections for Excellence (ACE), and ExxonMobil SWE.
In her spare time, Margaret enjoys volunteering at STEM outreach events in her community, speaking to students about engineering career paths, and mentoring Yale undergraduate engineers.