(MARSHALL, Texas) – Cristie Massey is a maintenance manager at AAON Coil Products in Longview, where she oversees more than 40 employees ranging from facilities technicians to janitorial staff.
Massey is a graduate of Texas State Technical College in Marshall, where she earned two associate degrees, one in Environmental Health and Safety and the other in Industrial Maintenance and Engineering (now Industrial Systems). She also has a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Texas A&M University-Commerce and plans to work on a master’s degree.
What was growing up in East Texas like for you?
I grew up in Quitman, where my stepdad owned a mechanics shop. I would always help him. My husband was also a mechanic. I didn’t finish high school; I got my GED and went to work. I was on my own at 17. When I was 23, I was married, had a 4-year-old and was pregnant with my youngest when my husband got killed in a motorcycle accident. I waited tables, and after about six years, I entered TSTC to take care of my children.
What factored into deciding what you would study at TSTC?
Safety is a big issue, no matter where you work. Being a mom, you are trying to keep your kids safe. I figured that it would be something I would enjoy. When I graduated, companies were doing safety in-house and not bringing in people from the outside. I was offered offshore jobs. I did work in the field, but I did the safety and purchasing side. I had three different positions in the company I worked at, which is where I did my internship out of college. That is when I decided to go back to college.
I was doing Diesel Equipment Technology, but I dropped the program and continued on with Industrial Maintenance and Engineering. I worked my way up. I have done health care, the chemical field, the food industry and then went to the federal courthouse. I am in a six-figure job now.
What is a typical workday like?
I get up between 4 and 4:30 a.m. The guys are coming in and out (of work), sending me texts if they have trouble clocking in or something is down. My day starts at home, but for work I start between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. We run 24 hours, seven days a week, so I have crews there all the time. I order parts, walk the floor, check on the machines, get updates on production while machines are down, and have meetings with the engineering and other departments.
Why should more women pursue the industrial systems field?
Females do the work because they can do the work. Females think differently than the males do. They bring a different viewpoint on everything. They are able to think things out differently, and they pay attention to the details that the men do not. They come at the situation differently.
What career advice do you have to offer?
I love the fast pace. I love to make good decisions, which got me in the position I am in. You need to be able to think on your feet, make the decisions and not second-guess yourself. You need to be confident in the decisions that you make.
The Industrial Systems program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee. Students in their first semester are eligible to sign up for free with campus Career Services representatives. Students are able to take part in workshops learning about resume writing, interview techniques and other employment skills. Industrial Systems graduates who are not hired in their field within six months after graduation may be eligible to get a tuition refund for their time at TSTC.
For more information, go to tstc.edu.