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Who is Sarah Olson?

I met Sarah Olson many moons ago in her office in Southfield, Michigan. I was the customer and she, along with other engineers and managers, were in attendance to listen to my report and requests for improvements. Her salesperson colleagues were interested to “wrap up the deal” whereas Sarah was laser focused-on how to resolve any shortcomings. I left the meeting that day feeling that I had a curious audience in Sarah not only listening but also searching for answers.    


Sarah was born and raised on a farm in rural Nebraska. Her family were all farmers, raising corn, soybeans, cattle and pigs. Looking up to her grandmother businesswoman as a real estate agent, and her older brother as a Civil Engineer, Sarah was inspired to pursue a career in engineering business. To that end, she studied Chemical Engineering as an undergraduate and Engineering Management in graduate school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While at school, she worked at a student co-op at Goodyear where she discovered a mentor in her manager Al Feit.


Sarah became a rubber compounder at Goodyear, and a full-time employee in 1998. Rubber compounding paved the way to transition into Friction Material Formulator with Federal Mogul in Smithville, Tennessee. Her professional career span Application Engineer, Product Engineering Manager and Brake Product Director all within Federal Mogul. Sarah Olson is currently the Director of Engineering with Masu Brakes.   


As an engineer/business professional, Sarah is a solution-oriented leader driven to create success. She measures her organization’s growth by her positive input. It is very rewarding. As a good listener, she gets the facts straight, analyzes each situation for its own merit, conducts damage control, if need be, while never ceasing to learn. Professionals such as Mark Phipps and Greg Vyletel had welcomed her into the mysterious world of Friction Material as it goes through ever evolving stages. She has been a remarkable professional engineer and manager while co-parenting her two boys through the stages of their lives.


Having no family in Michigan, where she works, it was most difficult to manage work-travel while the children were young. Fortunately, her current job does not require traveling. Being a minority female in the very male dominated automotive field, has had challenges and opportunities. She relies on her strength and works on her weaknesses to improve her career. Her advice to new and upcoming engineers, especially female ones, is to be curious and fearless to try new roles within the industry: work in product development, application engineering, and product management.


Her personal interest and hobbies consist of roller blading, walking, Pilates, reading, boating, and spending time with her teenage boys. All forms of physical activities are considered vitamins for her physical and mental wellbeing as they keep her focused socially and professionally.

Editor's note: We are seeking to highlight the professional journeys of individuals who have made significant contributions to Brake Technology or Business. Referrals are encouraged.

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