Inside MHI Q&A

q and aThe people who work at MHI and its WERC division are the gears that keep the association moving. They ensure MHI continues to be a valuable association and resource for people involved in the industry and do so with wit, competence and a smile on their face. The goal of this column in MHI Solutions magazine is to give readers a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes at MHI and “meet” the people who make it a successful hub for everyone involved in the material handling industry.

For this issue, Fran Ibarra and Alicia Garcia Alvarez give us a peek into what they do, how they do it, what drives them and what makes them happy after a long, productive day at work.

Fran Ibarra
IT Business Analyst

fran ibarra

Why were you attracted to MHI and to this industry as a career choice?

I was attracted to MHI and this industry due to its dynamic nature and the crucial role it plays in the global economy. Coming from an IT and banking background, I was looking forward to using my skills and experience in a different industry where I could learn and embrace new challenges. The industry’s constant evolution and innovation intrigued me, and I wanted to be part of it. After meeting with my now-colleagues at MHI, I knew this was the right place for me—I greatly value teamwork, and MHI provides an environment where collaboration is key to success. I quickly learned that MHI offers endless opportunities for growth and learning, which are essential for driving meaningful change and innovation.

What do you think are the best skills that you bring to your position at MHI?

As a business analyst in the IT Department, I believe that my strongest assets are my diverse skillsets and my passion for collaboration and innovation. My interpersonal skills allow me to effectively communicate with stakeholders, understand their needs and bridge the gap between technical requirements and business objectives when working on strategic projects. I am a very detailed-oriented person and I like to analyze data and processes, identify areas for improvement and propose effective solutions. I thrive on new challenges, constantly seeking opportunities to expand my knowledge and expertise, which is crucial in the fast-paced environment of IT. What drives me in my role is the opportunity to make a tangible difference, whether it’s streamlining workflows, optimizing tools or enhancing user experiences.

What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in your role at MHI in the next year?

A goal I’m committed to achieving is to enhance my expertise in UX/UI design. I am focusing on refining these skills to contribute to our ongoing website redesign and the development of new features for our new member hub, to provide a great experience for our members. I want to elevate the user experience across our digital platforms, ensuring that they are intuitive, visually appealing and aligned with member needs. This goal aligns with our commitment to providing exceptional value and enhancing the digital experience.

What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment (professionally) at the end of the day?

My greatest sense of accomplishment is knowing I’ve made a meaningful contribution to MHI and its members. As a team player, it’s fulfilling to collaborate with colleagues toward common goals and see the positive impact of our efforts. Knowing that my work is valued and counts towards achieving our objectives is incredibly rewarding. This sense of purpose drives me to continuously strive for excellence and fuels my passion for making a difference.

Do you have any unique skills or talents that most people don’t know about?

Most people don’t know that I am a North Carolina general contactor—I got my license in 2013, but don’t practice. Also, I have competed in bodybuilding shows as an amateur, and Spanish is my first language.

What is the last book you read?

I enjoy reading self-development and motivational books, as I strive to always improve in different aspects of life. As a new parent of a now 1-year-old, I wanted to learn more and I recently read “Hunter, Gather, Parent” where Michaeleen Doucleff shares timeless and tested methods for raising helpful, happy and kind children. She shares advice she acquired by living with and interviewing parents from today’s hunter-gatherer societies. I find it very interesting to learn how different cultures approach everyday life and try to apply a simplistic/natural way of living to mine when applicable.

What are you happiest doing when you’re not working?

I love working out and going for long runs to clear my mind, cooking and baking sourdough bread (and eating all of it!), spending time with my family, hiking and going on vacations abroad.

What event/excursion (in your life) would you consider adventurous or especially meaningful?

My most memorable experience that opened a whole new world for me was five years ago, backpacking and camping along the Yellowstone River for four days straight, where we were dropped off on one end of the National Park and picked up 30 miles later. This experience taught me that we are one with nature. I learned so much about wildlife, but it also taught me resilience and grit—it was hard but beautiful. Ever since, I have become a very outdoorsy person. The experience gave me a constant reminder that I can overcome any challenge that presents itself and life is a beautiful test.

Alicia Garcia Alvarez
Industry Group Coordinator

alicia garcia

What was your first impression of this industry, and has it changed since then?

Initially, I was overwhelmed by the complexity of MHI and the industry. However, over the past year, I’ve gained a much greater understanding of how important this industry is to the world around us, which has been incredibly rewarding to be a part of. The importance of this industry comes from its ability to efficiently move and store goods and materials throughout the supply chain.

What do you think are the best skills that you bring to your position at MHI?

The best skills that I bring are organization and communication. When dealing with multiple industry groups, being organized is crucial, and this is something on which I pride myself. Communicating is also a significant part of my day-to-day—whether with MHI members or my colleagues, communicating efficiently is required.

What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day would include attending meetings with the industry groups, coordinating notes for the attendees to reflect on and preparing for the next MHI event such as MODEX or the Spring Meeting. In between meetings, I prepare the industry groups for these events, including ensuring the presentations are up to standard and everyone has completed the required preparation. My daily duties require frequent and effective communication with my colleagues and MHI members.

What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment (professionally) at the end of the day?

The greatest sense of accomplishment I get at the end of the day is seeing the results of the hard work I put in almost instantaneously. I get to see firsthand how the time I put in reflects the satisfaction of our members at MHI, whether that be sending out detailed notes or coordinating a lunch for an SPM meeting—every detail matters.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

Traveling through Europe has always been at the top of my bucket list. I have always been eager to explore the different countries, but mainly Italy and Greece. I have always wanted to experience the culture, landscapes and foods that Europe has to offer, and I plan to check this off my bucket list within the next few years!

If you could transport back in time, what would you tell your 15-year-old self?

I would say that life doesn’t end when you get your heart broken for the first time—in fact it gets better than you could have ever imagined. I would also say to be patient and enjoy every moment life has to offer, because you won’t get that time back.

What are you happiest doing when you’re not working?

When I’m not working, I find my happiest and most cherished memories with my friends. I have been blessed with some of the best friends I could ask for—they are all adventurous and well-rounded individuals. We like to spend our time together exploring new cities and restaurants, as well as cooking home-cooked meals together and attending our monthly book club.

Do you have a favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is Valentine’s Day, which I enjoy spending with the people I love. I usually spend my Valentine’s Day eating sweets while watching 2000s romcoms with my best friends. It has definitely become a tradition and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think Valentine’s Day is the best holiday because celebrating love will always be something I enjoy no matter where I am in life.