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Break Boundaries in MSP

Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP) is the problem-solving capital of the new economy. Facing challenges and breaking boundaries is what we do best. That’s what makes us a magnet for problem-solvers like you. Join us and discover leading opportunities to grow your career.

Hometown: Grove City, MN

Barb Balinski

Vice President, Global R&D, Tennant Company

What problem(s) are you working to solve?
One of the key problems we are trying to solve is determining how to accelerate innovation to market whether internally developed or in concert with key partners. We are developing methodology that will smartly allow us to balance speed and risk. We are in process of launching our first Autonomous Mobile Robot and the team is using this opportunity to take our understanding of operationalizing innovation to a higher level.

What makes the Minneapolis and Saint Paul region (MSP) a great place to grow your career?
I long ago gave up the term ‘work/life balance’ which implies a daily perspective. While I believe ‘balance’ plays an important role in other aspects of your career, it has been easier for me to think of my career as ‘work/life integration’. This ‘integration’ approach allowed for flexibility for my family and my career instead of trying to live on strict rules. MSP is equipped to support a ‘work/life integration’ approach to a career with superior education opportunities, progressive companies and many programs to support personal and professional aspirations.

What do you think surprises people about MSP?
Most people know about ‘Minnesota nice’ (which is great!), but most people who visit are most surprised by how active the population is. The sheer number of beautiful, pristinely maintained parks, trails and opportunities for outdoor activities is surprising. Whether summer or winter, people are outside making the most of what MSP has to offer.

What advice do you have for women engineers starting in their careers?
This is difficult to narrow down. I have the equivalent of a small book of advice I’ve put together over the years. Starting out as a farm girl from a small central Minnesota town to becoming a VP of Engineering has provided me with a lot of opportunities to develop lessons learned.

One key piece of advice is that ‘balance’ is an extremely important concept to learn in how you operate every day. For example, my initial advice to early career engineering women is that you need to ‘sit at the table’ (with savvy, don’t sit in the CEO’s chair) and have your voice heard. But an absolute critical balance to that is the need to listen, listen, listen. In order to master that sense of balance, you will need to become as self-aware as possible. Seek feedback. Reflect. Understand how it looks from another’s point of view.