Coming full circle in Seneca

BASF manufacturing manager shares her secret to success in a male-dominated field.

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Lisa Forrester (center) who works in the manufacturing field, is considered to be a "thinking partner" to both the business team and Seneca site leadership team at BASF.  (Photo courtesy of Lisa Forrester)


Lisa Forrester joined BASF as Quality & Continuous Improvement Manager in 2016 for three reasons.

First, the married mother of three didn’t have to move her family to take the job; second, the position was a compilation of all her skills in one; and third and most importantly – it got her off the road, allowing her to spend more quality time with her family.

In her previous position as a national employee for the American Red Cross, Forrester supported communities across the country and traveled often. When her children were younger, it was manageable, because her husband was a “very supportive Mr. Mom.” But the longer she was away, she realized she was missing “things like math homework, soccer games and school plays.” 

“I decided early on in my career that I did not have to choose being a mother or a professional, but rather hold both in the right place,” said Forrester. “When I’m at work, I’m at work, and when I’m at home, I’m a mom.”

Fortunately, Forrester never had to pick between motherhood or a career professional at BASF, since the company is known for offering a strong work-life balance.

“I’ve never struggled with that choice here; BASF never made me have to choose work over my family,” she added.

Forrester works in Seneca, BASF’s largest manufacturing site in South Carolina, which focuses heavily on sustainability, recycling of specialty chemical catalysts, such as catalytic converters from vehicles, as well as precious-metal chemicals used to produce a wide variety of products, including pharmaceuticals, fragrances, fertilizers, plastics and more.

With nine direct reports, and 19 indirect reports, Forrester leads the onsite optimization workstream focused on all aspects of site operations. She has not only driven improvements for her specific areas of the business, but also facilitates the use of this methodology to support other business operations on site. This workstream has delivered millions of dollars in savings to the company.

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BASF's Seneca, South Carolina site is the company's largest of six sites in the state, with more than 400 employees.
Women in Manufacturing
Lisa Forrester, Quality & Continuous Improvement Manager, BASF, Seneca, SC

Today, Forrester is an accomplished professional and member of her business’ senior leadership team who has been recognized as an expert resource in leading root cause analysis coupled with the development of sustainable solutions.

However, only a few decades ago – when Forrester was just an adolescent – she didn’t even know what her engineer father did for a living.

It was not until she took a career assessment in high school, telling her she should consider a career in engineering that her dad brought her into his workplace to shadow a few female engineers working for him at the time. Once she graduated high school, Forrester was working at an R&D site at her father’s place of employment over the summer and her career path suddenly became clear.

“I fell in love with it, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said. “My father was the catalyst – he gave me a real-world view into engineering.”

Working in manufacturing for the last 25 years, Forrester recalls it being a lot different when she started out compared to today. She was one of very few women in her industry, and one of only three females in her engineering department in college, made up of 60 students – and all male professors.

Nevertheless, Forrester considers herself fortunate to have always worked with “great people, male or female,” where gender was never an issue for her. At the same time, she acknowledges that females bring a special skillset into the workplace – which male hiring managers have grown to recognize as well.

“Most of the time, technically, gender is not going to weigh in. But from an emotional, relational standpoint, women just bring a different perspective that I think helps create a well-rounded team,” she added.

Forrester recalls when about 17 years ago, her plant manager called her his ’people engineer,’ “because engineers are sometimes perceived to have strong technical skills but not great people skills,” she said.

And her current BASF manager agrees.

“Lisa has two predominant areas of strength – the first one being that she’s technically sound, she’s trained in industrial engineering, she understands continuous improvement and lean concepts and is able to help our business,” said Gregory Scull, Director, Global Manufacturing, Precious Metal Recycling & Chemicals, BASF. “Second, is her ability to influence, manage and lead organizations; she’s good at working at all levels of the organization.”

At present, the manufacturing gender gap has slightly narrowed, at least at BASF in Seneca — the current site director is female and so was the previous one; there are a couple more female leaders on Forrester’s extended leadership team, in addition to a good balance of male to female engineers overall.

“We’ve really worked on hiring female engineers at the entry level,” Scull added referring to South Carolina sites. “Roughly 35-40% of our engineers are women, something that wasn’t the case six or seven years ago.”

With all of Forrester’s achievements, one might wonder, what is her most crucial secret to success as a female in a mainly male-dominated environment? Her response — the triangle model of mentorship.

“You should always have a mentor who is coaching you to be better; you should have a peer to bounce things off of, someone who is not judging your performance; and then you should have somebody that you’re pouring into and investing in their career potential.”

Forrester is living proof of this triangle model, from her mentor father, to her peers on her senior leadership teams, to her employees and soon-to-be apprentices joining her site this summer.

The Seneca site, as well as other BASF manufacturing sites, is taking part in the North American Apprenticeship Development Program (NAADP), where applicants can earn while they learn. For more information on the program or to apply, click here.

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Lisa Forrester's additional accomplishments


·       She speaks to students from the elementary school to college level about STEM careers through the Anderson Oconee & Pickens County Showcase in South Carolina.

·       She’s a featured speaker at the School District of Pickens County’s “Bite of Science”.

·       She volunteers with local Tri-County Technical College to introduce students to the manufacturing industry.

·       She also volunteers at American Red Cross and her church where she leads financial education courses.

Published on May 17, 2021

This article is part of an ongoing series about 'Women in Manufacturing' at BASF. For media inquiries or to repurpose this article, please contact: or