The Manufacturing Institute has named Susan Bonivich, director of dealer development for Volvo Penta of the Americas, as one of the top women in U.S. manufacturing for 2021 with its prestigious STEP Ahead Award.
Celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and production (STEP), the Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers in all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C-suite. Bonivich and the other honorees will be recognized at the 9th Annual Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Awards at a gala dinner Nov. 4 in Washington, D.C.
“We will honor these manufacturing leaders with the STEP Ahead Awards, elevating their success and granting them a platform to inspire the next generation of women manufacturing leaders,” said Carolyn Lee, executive director of the Manufacturing Institute. “We’re confident these honorees will serve as living proof that women can dare to dream of a fulfilling, rewarding career in the industry.”
A recognized leader in the boating industry, Bonivich’s passion for the business is widely known and admired. In addition to promoting and selling Volvo Penta’s easy boating solutions to 600 dealers across the Americas, she oversees quarterly long-range forecasts. With her guidance, her team forecasts with 98 percent accuracy—both a noteworthy and technical accomplishment.
“Not only is Susan known by most in the marine industry, but she’s also respected by them. A strong dedication to customer focus and responsiveness to their concerns are cornerstones of her character,” said Jens Bering, vice president, marine sales, for Volvo Penta and Bonivich’s supervisor. “She is a tireless worker and a strong advocate for the needs of our dealers.”
Early in her sales career, Bonivich was often the only woman at the table at dealership meetings. Thanks to her expertise in product knowledge, customer commitment and technical know-how, she has inspired the next wave of women entering the field. To further engage this audience, she and her industry colleagues are launching an international initiative for women in boating later this year. The all-female board of directors is completing final arrangements for the initiative that supports and promotes the success of women in the recreational boating industry—from boat builders to buyers.
The STEP Women’s Initiative is the nation’s marquee program to close the gender gap in manufacturing. STEP works to foster a 21st-century manufacturing workforce by empowering and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership, as well as by motivating alumnae to pay it forward by mentoring the next generation.
“It is an honor to be recognized as a top woman in manufacturing among such an impressive group of leaders,” said Bonivich. “I don’t want any women to feel they are alone in this industry. As manufacturers, we want our industry to look more like the customers we are representing. I’m confident the tide is turning.”
Volvo Penta is deeply committed to advancing diversity and inclusion within its workforce. Bonivich is the third Volvo Penta recipient of the STEP Ahead Award in recent years. Previous winners include Marcia Kull and Valerie Harriell.