Bailey Zurawski thrives at the intersection of science and people.
“At my core, I’m an ops nerd,” she laughs. “I love being in a manufacturing plant and I love seeing things get made.” It shouldn’t be a surprise that her hometown, Dearborn, Michigan, is also home to the car company that birthed the assembly line.
After studying Industrial Engineering at the University of Michigan and working operations roles, she started consulting hundreds of manufacturing plants across the country.
One day during a consultation, Zurawski was asked about her dream job. “I said, ‘I want to run operations for a company that I feel really passionate about, in a community that I care about, at home in Detroit. Like Shinola.’”
It wasn’t long before she was living that dream. As vice president of operations “my job is to support the 150 people that call Ops home, to give them the tools, the strategies, and the goals for how to be most effective at their job. And to then in turn affect the business and how we want it to be.”
So, what does a typical day of this dream job entail?
“That changes every single day—whether it’s being on the phone with a supplier who isn’t delivering, to planning a training for my team, to doing a production walk to understand the issues going on the line and how we can eliminate them.” If a curveball is thrown at the makers of Shinola, it’s Zurawski’s responsibility to handle it.
Zurawski is no stranger to curveballs: She started in January 2020—just weeks before Covid-19 gripped the world. “We took a six-week hiatus when the pandemic started, but since then have been coming into work every single day.” She’s been an essential lead in coordinating logistics as the manufacturing environment moves beyond the most acute phases of the pandemic.
Her favorite part of the role? The team, the team, the team. “This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve never been at a place where people are so passionate about what they do on a day-to-day basis and care so much. That really inspires me to come in every day and do better for them.”
Zurawski’s relative youth and gender have affected her experience to varying degrees throughout her career—but she’s learned to turn every challenge into an opportunity to learn more, create relationships, and press forward. “If you’re persistent and you make yourself a seat at the table, it helps you build credibility and keep moving through your career.”
For young women curious about the watchmaking industry, Zurawski has this advice: “Be curious and never stop learning. You’re never going to know it all. There’s always going to be someone who knows more about it than you. Soak it up and learn from them—it will help you figure out what you want to do, where you want to go, and what your best strengths are.”
It’s the same learning attitude that’s propelled Zurawski through her career. “Bring it on, let’s run with it and get shit done.”