Finding her niche: STEM leader found dream job in Heath

In one sense, Ellen Power has been training for her job since childhood.

The fifth of seven children, she learned quickly from her parents that management is important. Then, it was school and sport schedules, money and household chores. Now, it’s employees and maintenance and repair for military craft and systems.

Power directs Boeing’s Guidance Repair Center in Heath, which employes about 430 people. She started at Heath in January 2013, and one of her favorite parts so far is being responsible for the entire site, she said.

“Here, I get to do all of it,” she said. It’s “like running a small business here in Heath.”

Power grew up in Maryland with two sisters and four brothers. She went to college at what is now DeVry University in Columbus, and from there, she moved to California, where she spent 28 years working for Rockwell International, now part of Boeing.

In September 2012, Power was asked to interview for the Heath position. She knew people in the area from her college days, and she was familiar with the site, she said. She applied, got the job, and it’s been wonderful so far.

“I feel like the people here are very dedicated to their work,” she said. “They really embrace the community around them to make sure they’re supporting it.”

At Heath, much of the workforce is nearing retirement age, and Power worries sometimes about being able to attract new workers to the area. It’s a great place to live, she said, but sometimes, other people don’t see that when they know they might be able to earn a higher salary elsewhere.

Power also worries about students in grade school, boys and girls, and making sure they know about STEM careers and have ample opportunity to see if STEM is a good fit.

It’s not that STEM is right for everyone, but Power feels it’s partly her responsibility to make sure it’s at least an option.

“The emphasis on STEM is really not just for the next rocket scientists,” she said. “Science, technology, engineering and math, they’re really the foundation for problem solving, planning, managing your money — just basic things that everyone needs to do.”

Moving to Heath from California, Power was initially a little worried about the weather. This past winter was a bit rough, but so far, Power has enjoyed the changing seasons, and any unpleasant weather is far outweighed by the community she’s found, she said. She is on the Licking County Chamber of Commerce board, and she said she loves how involved the community is with its businesses, supporting them and pulling for their success.

“We’ve got a really close-knit community,” Power said. “That’s kind of a big thing.

“I really like my job. I work for a really great company, and I really feel privileged to have this job here.”

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Twitter: @hksparling

Meet Ellen Power

If you could have any job — no limits — what would it be?

The job I have today is definitely a dream job. It is very similar to running a small business. When I walk around the site, people ask me what my next job is going to be. I tell them I just got here, and I’m still working to become proficient in my current role of meeting our customer commitments, growing the business and supporting the community.

Favorite celebrity or politician?

• Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

• Retired baseball player Cal Ripken Jr., who played 21 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles

Favorite comfort food?

Fresh bread, a delicious spread of cheese, and a glass of Chardonnay in the summer and dry, red wine in the fall and winter.

Favorite pastime?

I don’t have a favorite. I like to play golf and listen to it on TV. I love being outdoors. I love working with the community. I like to travel, and I like working. I like reading and riding my bike. I am a baseball and football fan and have recently taken on a “like” for Ohio State University football and their hockey team. … Just don’t tell my Michigan friends.

Biggest pet peeve?

People who get irritated or complain about a situation that they have no control over. Like driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Just do it. Listen to the radio and enjoy the ride.

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.