A Conversation With … Maria Joaquin, Burndy

#masking #pollutioncontrol


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Maria Joaquin is a metal finishing supervisor at Burndy, a New Hampshire manufacturer of connectors, fittings and tools for electrical utilities, commercial, industrial and maintenance companies. Maria is featured in our Products Finishing 40 Under 40 section this month, and shares her story of moving from the warm West Coast to the frigid East Coast to expand her career.


Q: You made the move across country to take the position at Burndy. How was that transition?

MJ: I decided to move to New Hampshire because I was given the opportunity to learn more about the environmental regulations of the industry. Also, I thought it was good to experience the opposite coast. The transition was a little difficult; it was really a culture shock. Moving from Los Angeles to the White Mountains of New Hampshire is a culture shock. Despite last winter being mild, for someone that had never experience a winter before it was pretty tough. I had to learned how use a wood stove very well, but I survived.

Q: Your degree is in biology with a minor in chemistry. What led you to the finishing industry?

MJ: I graduated from college right around the market crash; there were not many jobs options and not many companies hiring in many industries. I put my resume out, and a plating shop called me to be a lab technician. I had no idea I was going to make a career in this industry.

Q: You say you have a passion for industrial wastewater. Why is that, and tell us more about that passion.

MJ: When I was working as R&D chemist for a metal refinery, I was assigned to troubleshoot the wastewater system to reduce platinum. I designed multiple lab experiments mimicking our wastewater system until I was able to reduce the platinum, and it was very exciting to visually see the chemical reactions and make the wastewater crystal clear. For that reason, I wanted to learn more about wastewater, and I decided to pursuit my masters in environmental engineering.

Q: What is your take on how the finishing industry is doing to meet environmental and ethical requirements?

MJ: For the time I have been part of the industry, I have seen companies taking environmental regulations more seriously, and also adapting new technologies to improve the wastewater discharge, and reduced the water usage.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you were given, either personally or professionally, and who gave it to you?

MJ: Always do your best, even if you are not in your dream place, by my first boss

Q: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

MJ: My first job in the industry was Metal Surfaces in Bell Gardens, California as lab technician. I was very lucky to be exposed to multiple processes in electroplating. I learned different lab techniques and quality compliance testing for the solutions. I was able to learn from the operators about the different processes: precious metals plating, automotive plating, electroless, plastic, and electroforming.

Q: If you had $100,000 to give to a charity, which one would it be?

MJ: It would be to an environmental organization that is working in recovering the death zones of the ocean after contaminated river’s discharge

Q: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?

MJ: First car was a Dodge Intrepid. My dream car is a BMW Z4

Q: What leadership traits have helped you along the way?

MJ: Creating accountability in managing operators, and implementing changing for improvements, dealing with resistance

Q: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

MJ: A marine biologist or a scientist

Q: Favorite place you’ve ever lived?

MJ: Santa Catalina Island in California. I had the opportunity to live there for a school semester.

Q: Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?

MJ: Hiking the New Hampshire White Mountains

Q: Personal heroes?

MJ: Rosario Marin, a formal US Treasure under George W. Bush Administration. I went to the same high school as she, so growing up I used to admire her political achievements because I felt we had similar backgrounds.

Q: How do you motivate people?

MJ: By making goals clears, and explaining the process how to achieve the goal as a team, and giving them sense that I will be there for guidance or questions. Making individuals know they are part of a team, and acknowledge that we all have different strengths and weaknesses, but at the end we are a team, and we will achieve goals together.

Q: How do you motivate yourself?

MJ: I read books and articles that will encourage me in staying motivated. I remind myself that transitions or rough times are temporary.

Q: Three greatest passions?

MJ: Scuba Diving, curiosity to explore the unknown and striving for the impossible

Q: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

MJ: To not take all comments personal

Q: Word that best describes you:

MJ: Adventurous



About Maria:

Family: Five siblings

Favorite hobby: Scuba diving

Favorite movie: Stand and Deliver

Favorite book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

What’s playing in your car CD/radio: LA radio station KISS FM