“Fifty-two flights last year – I love it,” Ashley David, ‘15, said of her job as a national product marketing manager at Greenwood-based Endress + Hauser. 

Now an Indianapolis resident, David began her journey at Ivy Tech at the Lafayette campus in 2014, where she pursued mechanical engineering technology after facing financial challenges at Purdue University. 

“I came from a family that was not financially stable enough to support me through school. So, I had to make a lot of these hard financial decisions on my own. I wanted to stay in school; I wanted to stick with it. But I was also working two to three jobs. I don’t think I realized how expensive going to college would be.” David explained the situation she was in post-high school. “Luckily, I met an advisor at Ivy Tech who could work with me on the Purdue credits I already had and what classes I could take.”

Reflecting on her time at Ivy Tech, David recalls a supportive environment where she thrived, forming close bonds with professors and peers. Despite initial setbacks, Ashley's perseverance led her to graduate just one year after starting classes at Ivy Tech, marking the beginning of her impactful career in advanced manufacturing.

Instead of continuing with her bachelor’s degree, David joined the workforce, beginning her career at Endress + Hauser as a technical support engineer. This decision has led her to rise to the role of national product manager, specializing in nuclear products. With an associate degree, Ashley's dedication and expertise have propelled her forward, challenging the notion of degree bias within the industry, a topic she is passionate about and has now spoken about at two conferences. 

“So many people assume I have a four-year engineering degree,” David said. “People are like, ‘Oh, well, Ashley is good at her job. She's been promoted within the company. She's done all of these things. And clearly, she has to have an engineering degree from a four-year university.’ And that is degree bias.” 

David notes that 55% of community college graduates are women. “If we want to bring more women into the industry – any industry, in fact – and we want to bring in more diversity and inclusion into industries, we should look at the diverse talent pools that community colleges offer,” David said. 

As a woman of color in a male-dominated field, David faced moments of imposter syndrome and encountered degree bias firsthand. Yet, these experiences have only strengthened her resolve to advocate for diversity and inclusion within her company and the wider community.

“I sit on the steering committee for our Women's Integrated Network at Endress + Hauser. We work on linking the women of the global company, both domestically and globally, together. We have over 14,000 employees worldwide. We work on providing resources, hosting speakers, starting book clubs, and trying to really make sure people feel included and have a seat at the table,” David said. “And when they are the only woman in a room, we talk about how to help women feel comfortable speaking up more often. For example, I am often the only woman in a room. I go to factories for a living, so it's usually me and about six men.”

One of David's notable contributions is her advocacy for community college education. Recognizing the value of diverse talent pools, she champions the role of community colleges in providing accessible pathways to success. 

Through her involvement in organizations like the Society of Women Engineers and Endress and Hauser's Women's Integrated Network, David works to create environments where women feel empowered and supported.

“If we want more women on the team, we have to create an environment conducive for women to be comfortable and stay on the team,” David started. “For example, I had to wear men's work boots when I first started because the women’s work boot options were limited and not great. So, having other women in your industry to talk about where to find the right boots for your work environment is critical. For those of us, like me, who travel constantly for our jobs, talking about how we pack all our hair care products in a carry-on bag is an important conversation for women to have – and to feel safe to have.” 

As a speaker at the Society of Women Engineers conference, she highlights the importance of addressing degree bias and encourages women to pursue opportunities fearlessly. Her mantra, "Do it scared," serves as a guiding principle for aspiring professionals, reminding them that growth often lies outside their comfort zones.

In the face of adversity, David stands as a beacon of inspiration, challenging stereotypes and paving the way for future generations of women in advanced manufacturing and logistics. Her story serves as a reminder that diversity isn't just a goal—it's a catalyst for innovation and progress in every industry.

As we honor women like David, a 2023 Conexus Rising 30 member, during Women's History Month, let us celebrate their contributions and continue to strive for a more inclusive future.

If you would like to learn more about David, she invites you to connect on LinkedIn. You can learn more about Ivy Tech’s mechanical engineering technology program here.

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.