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Jill Whelan

Jill Whelan, Vice President, Corporate Communications

Jill Whelan

Vice President, Corporate Communications

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Looking back, Swagelok was the perfect fit for this small town girl from Wisconsin. I was raised by two schoolteachers who instilled in me an insatiable thirst for learning, a quest to make things better, and a commitment to be a meaningful part of the bigger world.

Majoring in communications, I sampled an array of subjects such as philosophy, ethics, media, literature, even drafting. Later in college, I became more interested in the dynamics of leadership when a professor encouraged me to run for student body vice president. This role gave me the chance to give back to the university and learn more about people and communications.

I started with Swagelok as a buyer of commodities, O-rings and metal coil, but the other part of my job was buying office supplies for the organization. As people from different departments came to me to purchase special items, I learned about them and their roles and how the company operated. It was a perfect starting point for someone like me who’d always wanted to know everything about everything.

After a few months I became a scheduler, then a production control supervisor, then planning manager and various other roles in supply chain. To help pay off my student loans, I worked overtime and weekends on the shop floor. I’d suit up to go polish fittings or assemble gaskets. Again the real value in these experiences for me was getting to know the people in these different areas and how they made the company successful. As I progressed in leadership, I have loved returning the time to others that so many great mentors have given to me.

For one project, I helped build supply chains in Japan and Europe. Our company was changing, and we were planning to grow from many angles including by acquisition. That’s when I got curious about international business and law. I then decided to go to law school – not to practice law, but to understand more about how to manage legal challenges in future projects.

Later, as the supply chain manager for Swagelok’s semiconductor business, I combined the discipline of supply chain with the softer side of customer service. The semiconductor industry was moving so fast, and it was an exciting challenge to find ways to speed up how we provided information about products and services to customers.

Determining what customers needed, what would make them happy, was always interesting to me — even from my high school days serving at Ponderosa, fitting shoes at a sporting store or in college helping patients with financial concerns at an oncology clinic. What really matters to people? How can I make their day better? It’s the same thing today at Swagelok.

Customer focus will continue to steer my efforts as vice president of corporate communications. Staying on the pulse of customer needs will help us determine what actions Swagelok takes to keep growing strategically. My responsibility is connecting people to information and inspiration that helps them simplify the complex and motivates them to grow themselves, their team and our value to customers.

Outside work, I enjoy supporting causes for adolescents and teens, which prompted my volunteer work for Junior Achievement and service on the Support To At-Risk Teens (START) board. Also near to my heart is getting the word out about support for families like mine coping with Alzheimer’s disease, which drives my involvement on the public policy committee and board of the Alzheimer’s Association.