There is no such thing as a woman’s job or a man’s job. Gender should not determine your professional opportunities. The stereotype that the metal recycling industry is only for men has been biasing our society for decades.
At Sims Metal, we are committed to tackling this stereotype head on by inspiring more women to consider a career in this industry.
In the last few years, more women have joined the metal recycling industry and are achieving success. Anna Tompkins, Commercial Director at Sims Metal, is one of those.
Her story is a great example of how the metal recycling industry can be incredibly welcoming, inspiring and exciting for women, as well as for men.
Anna has been working in this industry for 18 years. Thanks to her talent, combined with support from her mentors and colleagues, she has accomplished a rewarding career.
Not only does Anna have a very fascinating story, but she is also an inspiration for future generations of women who wish to break the gender bias within this industry.
1. Hi Anna, please tell us about your career and your role at Sims. How long have you been working in the metal recycling industry?
“I joined this industry in 2004. I was hired by Montgomery Scrap Corporation in Rockville, MD as their first female scrap buyer. I had customer service and account management skills, but I didn’t know anything about scrap metal. Being new to the industry, I had to learn it all: logistics, some operations, and of course ferrous and non-ferrous buying. In 2007, Montgomery Scrap Corporation merged with a shredder in Baltimore called United Iron and Metal. That completely changed my view of ferrous buying. Around that time I was promoted to Client Relation Manager, and then I was later promoted to Director of Marketing. In 2020, I was appointed Vice President with overall responsibility for managing the commercial, customer service and marketing teams.
Throughout this time, I have always been part of the commercial buying team. In March 2022, Sims Metal acquired Atlantic Recycling Group, and my new title is Commercial Director.”
2. Why did you decide to join this industry?
“I started working for an Occupational Health company and Montgomery Scrap Corporation was one of my clients. I came in to meet the team, asked if I could get a tour, and I immediately fell in love. A few weeks later, they asked me to come back, but I didn’t know it was for an interview! They made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse, and they told me what I still tell people: “you’ll know in nine months if this business is for you. You’re either going to love it and stay, or you’re going to move on.” At that moment, I thought I was going to move on. I had a five-year plan, and this industry was not part of it – but here I am. Because it’s been such an unusual, but fulfilling path, I really believe that I have an obligation to be an ambassador for the metal industry and tell women how fantastic it can be.”
3. What are the obstacles preventing women from pursuing a career in this industry? What do you think stops them?
“The scrap metal industry is not generally viewed as a very glamourous industry. Additionally, many potential employees have little scrap metal experience. The way we create job postings can play a critical role in overcoming this. By being clear that we are hiring for skill set, not scrap knowledge, we can really encourage diversity in prospective employees, which will create a more diverse workforce. One thing that I believe about Sims Metal is that everyone will be given the resources and support needed to succeed, and grow.”
4. Do you think things have changed over the last few years? If so, how?
“Yes, they have, and I have seen it firsthand. I have seen many young and adult women given great opportunities into these businesses over the years. They’re coming in with a tremendous amount of education and confidence and I really think that this is a sign of good things to come. Progress has been made, but there is much more work to be done.”
5. How has Sims made you feel welcomed in the company?
“I have been supported in this company from the top-down. Every person I have encountered – Vincent Marinaro, VP Non-Ferrous, Steve Fisher, VP Supplier Services – have been professional and helpful. The women in this organization are remarkable. From Vania Grandi the VP of Global Buy Force to Stela Carvalho, Office Manager, their insights and guidance have been incredibly valuable.
Joe Payesko, Chief Commercial Officer, has also been extremely supportive of me, and he has made sure that I feel heard and included – and the list goes on and on.”
6. I know you’re part of the “Association of Women in the Metal Industries.” Why did you decide to join them and how do you think this association supports the advancement of women in the metal industry?
“I joined AWMI in 2011 because even though I had a fabulous employer who was supporting me, everywhere I went there was nobody like me. My bosses, peers and customers were male. I knew that I needed a place where I could be given networking, educational and mentoring opportunities from other women; that’s why I initially joined and it was one of the best professional decisions I have made to date. AWMI’s mission is to provide women in this industry with networking, growth, educational and mentoring opportunities. These are often in short supply, particularly in scrap yards, mills, service centers and distributors where the workforce tends to be mostly male.”
7. What’s your role in the association?
“I am part of the international board of directors and currently hold the position of Marketing Chair. They asked me to serve as a VP when my chair is up in 2023 with the expectation that I will become the president of the organization. This will give me the chance to reach out to as many women as possible not only at AWMI, but also at Sims. I look forward to representing Sims on this platform as I believe that we should be working together to continue making the progress that our industry needs to see around diversity and inclusion.”
We are so thankful that Anna shared her story with us. We hope she can be an inspiration for all women around the world who wish to start a career in this industry.
At Sims Metal, we are working hard to make sure everyone feels welcomed, valued and supported. Our parent company, Sims Limited, is actively investing in women. For example, in 2021, the company launched a coaching and development program, Women Leading @ Sims, to support the next generation of women leaders across all business divisions.
Sims is not only committed to supporting women, but also every other employee regardless their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability, or religion. We foster a work environment where difference is not only accepted, but also valued and supported.
Join our diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace