Ruthann Blom: Leading with Strength and Love
Ruthann Blom is the Operations Manager here at Erb + Young. Born and raised in Flint, Michigan, during a time when General Motors (GM) was making a positive impact on the area, Ruthann dreamt of attending MSU to become a teacher.
Education came easy to Ruthann, something she attributes to the genes of her father. She excelled in everything she put her mind to, eventually achieving a scholarship for academics to her dream college. While she was wired like her father, they didn’t have the same idea for her future. Like many during that time, her father didn’t believe that girls should go to college – they either get married or live at home (until marriage) and go to work. So at 18, Ruthann decided to start work at GM.
Ruthann is a 3rd Generation GM employee/retiree. She started as a Secretary, scheduling skilled trades into jobs on the floor and quickly worked her way up. During her time at GM, it was made that women were to step away before the 6 month mark of their pregnancy. She did so in 1970 before her first child, Rod, was born in 1971. Being a mom was and is one of the greatest honors of her life. She enjoyed her time at home and a couple years later, welcomed another child, Michelle, in 1973.
Crusade for Women
During her time away, the Crusade for Women took place and changed things moving forward.
Going back to work in 1978
In 1978, Ruthann had been out of work for 8 years, but thanks to the fight for women’s rights she was able to regain 2 years of her seniority. With her dedication to being a mom, she remained in the secretarial field to minimize the stress that would have come with a management position, although ultimately, that was what she wanted to do.
Launching her Career
In 1985, when her kids were old enough for her to handle more, Ruthann launched her career and began working on the manufacturing floor doing production control and logistics (and she loved it).
Ruthann is fascinated in seeing things operate and come together. She loved getting to know people and understanding how they’re wired to do their jobs.
Ruthann’s gifts in strength and nurturing, played well on the manufacturing floor, but there were still major obstacles in dealing with some men who mistreated her with catcalling, verbal abuse and even physical abuse. She stuck to her character and role with tenacity and strength and persevered, gaining the respect of many around her who came to her aid when she was being mistreated.
How do you balance nurturing and strength in the workplace?
During her time at GM as well as her time being a stay-at-home mom, Ruthann had gone on to finish her Masters degree and achieved success, reaching 2 levels higher at GM than her father did during his career. Her retirement came early when GM was in the midst of bankruptcy and offered early retirement packages for salaried people. She accepted the package realizing that it would open the door for younger people to remain at the company.
Retirement wasn’t working
Retirement wasn’t working and after 3 months of doing her hobbies, she felt her mind was going to go stagnant if she wasn’t active in learning new things. For the next few years she took jobs at a plant nursery fixing their processes, at McDonalds running their fry station, a supplier, a car dealership and eventually landed in Florida where she had been traveling back and forth to visit her kids. While her jobs during retirement included a few different industries, they all revolved around processes and people.
Coming to work at Erb + Young
After an amazing career at GM and all the experiences that shaped her as a mom and as a professional, her next role opened the door to come and work with her son, in an environment where she could bring her expertise and be a part of helping shape the company he and his partners had built.
What Ruthann has been able to do at EY that she wasn’t able to do anywhere else
Ruthann describes the culture at Erb + Young
Ruthann has so much love and knowledge to give, but there is one thing she wants her kids to see from her:
Working closely with Rod, Brett and Tay, Ruthann recognizes that there is something they do that makes their partnership such a success. As she refers to as “her three boys”, Ruthann shares what that thing is: