Small Town Farm Girl Becomes an Industry Leader
Environmental health. Worker safety. Constructive discomfort. As the Plant Manager of 3M Aberdeen, Nadine Gropp lives the leadership philosophies to which she adheres, stressing their importance in her personal and professional development.
“I want to lead in an environment that I would like my child to work in,” Ms. Gropp explains of her decision to take the helm at one of the top-three 3M plants in the world. “Protecting the safety of people and environmental safety is a core value of mine and the company. We work as a team here to accomplish this, creating leaders who can create change at every level.”
And that’s exactly what 3M did when it hired Gropp in 1999. This University of Saskatchewan graduate and Canadian native originally joined the company at a Canada-based facility as an engineer, making the move out of the oil, gas and mining industry in Northern British Columbia’s Dawson’s Creek. Seizing on what she describes as the endless opportunities at 3M, she would participate in the company’s leadership development program and would ultimately go on to find herself leading in Aberdeen.
“This site is a premiere site, one of the top-10 in the U.S.,” Gropp proudly explains of the Aberdeen plant. “I was honored to be asked to lead at a plant that Industry Week voted as the Best Plant in the United States in 2014. We work as a team here, and we engage as a team to create personal leadership development. We have a diverse technology and a highly engaged workforce. I am quite fortunate to be here.”
The married mother of two had more humble beginnings, having grown up in Manitoba on a small farming ranch. Her father, who is still working the ranch at 72-years-of-age, along with her schoolteacher mother, instilled in her by example the values of hard work and an education. They have guided her throughout her adult years.
“I learned my values and ethics from my parents,” Gropp says, “and they taught me that jobs have to get done, no matter how ugly the weather, or if you’re not feeling well – you still have to get it done. You still have to go to school, do your homework, study, and work hard. It’s part of the American Dream, and I’m fortunate to be living it, to have learned that from my immigrant parents.”
Coming from such a strong ethical background, Ms. Gropp was an easy fit at 3M.
“In the 16-years I’ve worked for this company,” she explains, “I’ve been asked to do nothing that is contrary to my personal ethics.”
Understanding that her personal and professional philosophies were well matched for a more advanced leadership role within 3M, making the move to Aberdeen was a clear decision.
Ms. Gropp says of her move, “This is a wonderful city for a young family. There is great work here to attract families, and wonderful facilities.” Her family’s favorite activities include camping, fishing, hiking, and going to Wylie Lake and Storybook Land.
Moving from Manitoba to Aberdeen was a welcomed change for Ms. Gropp, though change is something she has never shied away from.
“Change is constructive discomfort,” she explains. “It’s like a new pair of shoes – you know you need them and it’s going to be uncomfortable at first, until they become your favorite pair of shoes. But moving to South Dakota was an exciting transition. And coming to Aberdeen feels like coming home.”