Employee Spotlight: Rubicon Ladies Against Landfills

Rubicon Employee Spotlight Ladies Against Landfills

A melting pot of cultures, personalities, and ideas; Rubicon Global is proud to highlight 4 inspiring women in waste who are instrumental for the long-term success and growth of our organization. Historically, the waste industry has notoriously been male-dominated, but the girl-power at Rubicon is apparent with a brilliant team that is 40% female. Many ladies are making their mark in MSW! We are proud of the female leadership within Rubicon and strive to increase the pipeline for women in technology and sustainability roles within our company.

In conjunction with the celebration of International Women’s Day 2018, we hope this article entertains, educates, and encourages the next generation of #LadiesAgainstLandfills!

Maui Orozco

1. What is your role at Rubicon? How did you decide to start working in the waste industry? What is your background? 

I am a Public Policy Manager on the Policy & Strategic Initiatives team. To be honest, I never imagined that I would work in the waste industry! My background is in economic development and tech policy so the idea of “disrupting” monopolized industries and challenging archaic policies is what attracted me to this industry and Rubicon.

2. What is one thing new thing you learned this week in your role?

I watched a documentary this week called “Atomic Homefront” (2017) and learned so much. It is about the devastating health impact that illegal dumping of radioactive waste has had in North St. Louis communities. I learned how difficult it is for communities living close to landfills to have their voices heard and how ridiculously long the process is to get anything done by the EPA or other levels of government. The site was deemed toxic in the 1990s and still hasn’t been cleaned!

3. What sparked your passion for sustainability?

Growing up in the beautiful Southwest U.S. where the desert and Red Rocks National Park were my backyard, I have always loved nature and the outdoors. Nevada is one of the driest states in the nation, so I learned from an early age that natural resources (especially water) are scarce and we all have an important role to play in sustaining them.

4. What’s been the biggest professional challenge you’ve overcome?

In my professional career, I’ve always been on the side representing the “disrupter.” It’s not easy changing the narrative around ideas and industries that have gone unchallenged for decades. It’s not easy challenging the status quo. Taking on big, incumbent industries like taxi and big waste is a HUGE challenge, and it’s definitely not overcome… yet. But we will get there!

5. What is it like to work in a male-dominated industry?

I’m not going to lie – it’s not always easy. Working at the intersection of three male-dominated industries (tech x waste x gov’t affairs), I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moments where I questioned if I made the right career choice or if I was the “right” person for the job. There have been times throughout my career where people I have had to interact with in a professional setting have been disrespectful and inappropriate. Often, I’m the youngest, darkest, and one of very few women in a meeting (if not the only woman).  I know that when I walk into a room, I’m not only representing myself and my company, but am also representing the few young, brown, female women in this industry and will influence how we are perceived. Because of this, I always try to be the most prepared and poised person in any meeting. I used to be intimidated by this. Now, I choose to be empowered by it. The industry is changing, and it helps to have strong female mentors and supportive male mentors as allies to remind me that I am capable and have earned my seat at the table.

6. What is one piece of advice you heard outside the office that you apply to your work?

“Be clear, upfront and honest in your communication.” I think this was actually dating advice I got a long time ago, but it applies across all interactions and relationships in my life. Being accountable and managing expectations is so important.

7. If any actor (dead or alive) could play you in the movie of your life, who would you cast and why?

I love musicals, so the movie of my life would definitely be a musical… so maybe Rosario Dawson? She’s got dark hair, olive skin, and was SO GOOD in Rent.

8. If you could play any professional sport: what would it be and why?

I’d be an ice dancer – and I’m not just saying that because of the Winter Olympics! I used to ice skate as a kid and loved it.

9. You’re on a deserted island and a helicopter drops down one food for you every day, what could you eat daily for the rest of your life?

Spaghetti and meatballs!

10. What is one eco-responsible action that you try to incorporate into your everyday life?

I take public transit every day (I don’t own a car!) and I use a reusable mug for my coffee and tea.

Samantha Podgorny 

1. What is your role at Rubicon? How did you decide to start working in the waste industry? What is your background?

I am the Director of Technical Business Development at Rubicon Global. My first job in the waste industry was a customer service representative at Waste Pro. After a few months there, I took over the Accounts Receivable and Billing department. After Waste Pro, I moved on to Atlas Disposal, a small independent hauler, which allowed me to really experience everything the industry has to offer. From dispatching to service, I wore a lot of hats. I eventually transitioned to Rubicon five and a half years ago and have worked in different departments and had my hands in a lot of different projects.

2. What is one thing new thing you learned this week in your role?

This week specifically I am traveling to a conference to learn about measurement and how to properly report recycling metrics. One of my favorite parts of my job is to travel around and talk to different cities about our technology. I have learned that every city has very individualized specifications and unique pain points. I love to learn how we can help these cities by customizing our tech to their needs.

3. What sparked your passion for sustainability? 

I have three children and I really would like to make sure I leave things better than when I got them, for their sake. I grew up in Seattle and growing up in the Pacific Northwest there is a definite emphasis on nature, environment, and recycling. I learned about recycling starting in Kindergarten. It’s just how I grew up!

4. What’s been the biggest professional challenge you’ve overcome?

One of the biggest professional challenges that I have overcome has been figuring out my role in these different companies and identifying the changes I can make. If you work hard and you know what you’re talking about, you really can do anything you want to at Rubicon. It was a challenge to figure out my voice, how I could be helpful, and find direction. In my half decade here, I have held positions in 5 different departments. I love the waste industry as a community and I like representing our company and being in a position to show everyone what we’re doing. I think I have finally found my voice.

5. What is it like to work in a male-dominated industry?

I grew up the youngest with two older brothers so I believe there is a certain level of attitude and sass I can bring to a conversation to really level the playing field. It honestly doesn’t matter if you’re male or female in this industry because if you are knowledgeable and reliable, you should be accepted. I have never taken “no” for an answer.

6. What is one piece of advice you heard outside the office that you apply to your work?

It’s not a piece of advice per se, but it’s about owning your own personal brand. I want to be known as someone who says what they’re going to do and then get it done. People remember when you fail them. The last thing I want is to have the reputation of someone who doesn’t come through. I try to make sure that I am always aware of that.

7. If any actor (dead or alive) could play you in the movie of your life, who would you cast and why?

I would cast a young “When Harry Met Sally” style Meg Ryan. She’s really funny, she’s quirky, she’s strong, and she’s also vulnerable.

8. If you could play any professional sport: what would it be and why?

If I could play any professional sport, I would do Curling so I could finally learn what the rules are!

9. You’re on a deserted island and a helicopter drops down one food for you every day, what could you eat daily for the rest of your life?

Chips and Salsa. All day, every day.

10. What is one eco-responsible action that you try to incorporate into your everyday life?

Gardening! It’s a good stress reliever, I like to show my kids the process of taking a seed and watching it grow into something, and it’s really fun to play in the dirt.

Mary Trenchard 

1. What is your role at Rubicon? How did you decide to start working in the waste industry? What is your background?

I am the Vice President of Customer Advocacy here at Rubicon Global. I spent the initial part of my career in the USPS space and I worked for Pitney Bowes for 15 years. After a short hiatus, I bumped into Oakleaf Waste Management through a mutual friend. They started as a small customer service group and then began to go through some growing pains as they were acquiring enterprise accounts. They put me in front of customers to share the value proposition and enhance and grow these relationships. I’ve spent my whole career in a customer facing role. Now I am the face of the company to the customer at Rubicon and have been doing so for 4 years.

2. What is one thing new thing you learned this week in your role?

I’m learning truly just how much education needs to be provided to customers. We’ve gotten much better at being cognizant of what it really means to teach our customers. Countless times I have had customers tell me they want to get to “zero waste” but we have to educate and coach them so they understand that zero waste is not a number, it’s a way of life.

3. What sparked your passion for sustainability? 

My passion comes from my journey through the trash side of the business. Once I had visibility into all this stuff that was going into the landfills, I knew it needed to change. But I also know how difficult that really is to do. You have to have a process, you have to have people, and you need to have the education to get where we (the planet) need to be from a true sustainability standpoint. I’ve spent the last 5 years committed to that and educating our customers along the way.

4. What’s been the biggest professional challenge you’ve overcome?

I think one of the biggest challenges I have overcome in my career was gaining the respect for the knowledge that I have.

5. What is it like to work in a male-dominated industry?

It really doesn’t bother me. If you’re good at what you do and you know what you need to know, it doesn’t matter.

6. What is one piece of advice you heard outside the office that you apply to your work?

One of the guiding principles that I live by is, “do what you say you’re going to do, and leave everybody you encounter along the way in a better place than they were when you got there.”

7. If any actor (dead or alive) could play you in the movie of your life, who would you cast and why?

Meryl Streep. I think she’s a fierce advocate for what she believes in. I’m also a fierce advocate for my teams, for my customers, and for any organization that I am a part of.

8. If you could play any professional sport: what would it be and why?

Football. I have a deep passion for football. I’m not afraid to contact anybody and I’m not afraid to bump up to anybody. I also think it’s a little bit of ballet, and I was a ballerina when I was younger. There is also a lot of strategy involved in figuring out how to outsmart your opponents.

9. You’re on a deserted island and a helicopter drops down one food for you every day, what could you eat daily for the rest of your life?

Tomatoes. Any kind of tomato.

10. What is one eco-responsible action that you try to incorporate into your everyday life?

I try to pay attention to the things that I don’t necessarily think about all the time like lights and water. I always make sure my lights are turned off and the water is turned off to conserve.

Yalexis Severit 

1. What is your role at Rubicon? How did you decide to start working in the waste industry? What is your background?

I am the Accounts Payable Manager. I come from IBM and Verizon so I have a lot of experience in the service and technology world. I was very attracted to Rubicon because of the technology behind it and the fact that we’re doing good things for our planet and for our customers.

2. What is one thing new thing you learned this week in your role?

I am learning new things every day! The most important thing that I learned this week revolves around the importance of communication within the company, with our customers, and with our vendors. Every day it’s important to learn a new lesson in different ways.

3. What sparked your passion for sustainability? 

I have a deep passion for nature. I have 36 trees on my property that I refuse to cut or touch. I really do believe that we need to respect our earth and I’m lucky that my job lets me do that every day.

4. What’s been the biggest professional challenge you’ve overcome?

The biggest professional challenge that I have overcome was when I joined the team at Verizon. I was tasked with the responsibility of overseeing over 6 million customers. All of their data and account information had to be executed perfectly and in a timely manner.

5. What is it like to work in a male-dominated industry?

I think the big challenge of working in a male-dominated industry is having your voice heard.

6. What is one piece of advice you heard outside the office that you apply to your work?

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I read it in a Joan Maxwell book and it really has made such an impact on how I treat my peers, other professionals, customers, and suppliers.

7. If any actor (dead or alive) could play you in the movie of your life, who would you cast and why?

Because of my background, I would pick a Hispanic actress like Sofia Vergara. She’s eloquent and impulsive, just like me!

8. If you could play any professional sport: what would it be and why?

If I played a professional sport, it would have to be tennis. I love the synchrony between the players and all of the non-verbal ways they communicate.

9. You’re on a deserted island and a helicopter drops down one food for you every day, what could you eat daily for the rest of your life?

Sushi! Any form of sushi.

10. What is one eco-responsible action that you try to incorporate into your everyday life?

In my house it is mandatory to recycle and we do not waste any food. I cook all of my own food which is one of the ways I keep everything simple and help reduce food waste. I call myself the “queen of leftovers” – everything gets eaten!

Looking to join the Rubicon team? Take a look through the open opportunities on our Careers page.