Combining STEM Skills with Business Know-How for Success

Science and technology stirred Gladys Montenegro’s interest as a child in South America, leading her to the U.S. and a career with Abbott.

REACHING YOUR POTENTIAL     |    Feb 21, 2022

Growing up in Ecuador, Gladys Montenegro knew from an early age that she wanted to study science and technology. Her parents — her was father an architect, her mother a businesswoman — inspired and fostered her interest in STEM. 

Montenegro has been a supervisor for the manufacturing engineers with the Core Diagnostics team in Irving, Texas since May 2021. She started at Abbott in 2017 working in R&D systems integration and later became a supervisor for on-market systems integration before her current position.


Before starting her career, Montenegro moved to the U.S. to go to college, earning two bachelor's degrees from Florida Institute of Technology: one in molecular biology and the other in premed. She later received a master's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, which she completed while working at biotech companies.


Process and People


"When I was still in school, I knew for sure I wanted to do research, and I did," Montenegro said. "As I grew in my career, I decided I wanted to try other things, eventually leading me to follow a path in management."


After working as a supervisor in the highly technical environment of systems integration, Montenegro talked with her managers about learning more about the broader business and understanding what drove decisions.


"I was fortunate to have people who also were interested in my career development, and I transitioned to become a supervisor of the manufacturing engineers," she said.


In every role, Montenegro focused on creating a better product that improves the diagnostic experience for customers and brings value to the business.

"My team and I support the manufacturing floor, handling requests from assemblers and test technicians," she said.


"We keep in close communication with the on-market design team to make sure the changes and improvements they propose for the instrument also make sense once they get incorporated to the assembly line,” she said. “We also make sure the lines are working efficiently by balancing the flow of parts and people.”


Helping team members assess where their own specialties are needed most is another of Montenegro's key responsibilities.


"I work to be vigilant about opportunities and projects that may help people in their career growth," Montenegro said. "And I still get to provide technical expertise and participate in cross-functional teams."


Giving Back


In addition to guiding her Abbott team members in their careers, Montenegro’s love of science fuels her passion for mentorship and teaching beyond work. Since childhood, she has wanted to help others figure out “what they wanted to become when they grew up,” she said.


She supports women as they pursue STEM careers in multiple ways, including as part of the steering committee for the Irving, Texas, chapter of Abbott’s Women in STEM organization, and as a supervisor for interns at Abbott.


Montenegro also enjoys sharing her love of science with children, especially those in kindergarten through third grade. She has participated in women-led programs that target elementary schools with a high percentage of low-income families. She said she takes serving as a role model for young girls seriously because women are underrepresented in STEM leadership roles, and she wants to help increase those numbers.

"I love to go to the schools and teach science experiments and talk about what it means to follow a STEM career," Montenegro said. "I make a special effort to be involved because I developed my love of science at that age, along with support from my father."

Whether she's talking with her team or students, Montenegro tries to highlight the options a STEM education brings. Though she didn't stay in research for her career, she applies STEM skills and communications expertise every day to generate positive results and outcomes for Abbott customers and the business.

"The beauty of pursuing a career in STEM is that you can end up working in many different fields," she said. "Even those that are different from your original specialty."