Josephita Harry, Pan American Zinc’s vice president of trading in the nonferrous and electronics scrap division, was a panelist for the Laying the Foundation for Long-Term Success through Cultivation, Mentorship, and Opportunity session at ISRI2021. She leads the Communications Subcommittee for the Women in Recycling (WIR) Council and advocates for WIR ISRI’s Southeast Chapter. She is also a young executive, and has been active in ISRI Young Executives Council (YEC) activities for years.

Harry’s passion for recycling began with a school project in 1995, Clean Up India, which focused on her native country’s budding recycling and waste management programs. She earned a degree in electronics and instrumentation engineering from the University of Madras, and started working in IT. Moving from the United Arab Emirates to the U.S. nearly a decade ago, she since has been involved in nonferrous metals trading.

At ISRI2021, you spoke on how cultivation, mentorship, and opportunity can help businesses succeed. Can you describe the process that brought you to that session?

During one of the [2020] virtual board meetings, I gave the update for the WIR Council. At the end of those meetings, there was a request for volunteers to present at the ISRI convention, and I volunteered to tell my story about mentorship.  From then on, step by step, the [session] moderator, Ryan [Glant, CEO and president of Pacific Iron & Metal] provided us with questions. He did an interview with each one of [the panelists] and then he collated them.

Lisa [Ness-Wilson, president of Meetings by Design] and Rebecca [Turner, ISRI’s vice president of education and events] were very, very thorough in what they did. They gave us enough time and prep to be prepared for what we needed to do. There was also a test run a few minutes before we started the actual recording. Having done this presentation with other organizations outside ISRI, I can say that ISRI is very well organized and makes everything so simple and easy to execute.

What inspired you to develop your presentation in the first place?

If we don’t share what we know, then it dies within us, right? Sharing your expertise is a form of immortality. You never know when your story can act as a ray of hope or a sign that someone is looking for. Everyone has a different path, and it’s important to share the path we take, or the lessons we’ve learned along the way, and how that helped us get where we are. You never know how it may impact someone to be better, when you share your story.

I could name a lot of people in the recycling industry who have provided support and guidance. Robin Wiener [ISRI’s president] has been instrumental in me getting involved in various parts of ISRI. You never know what impact one friendly conversation can have on someone’s life, and that was Robin for me. The CEO of my company, Dan Marjenberg, is a mentor. We bounce around ideas on a regular basis. I’ve learned a lot from him about business and how to handle people.

Tony Levin [vice president at Ferrous Processing & Trading and first vice-chair of ISRI’s Nonferrous Division] and Randy Goodman [chair of the Trade Committee and chair of the Specifications Working Group] have reciprocated when I asked questions, whether it was about the industry or people management—all kinds of things. I would love to say thanks to a lot of people who have always been happy to help me along the way.

What advice do you have for delivering a presentation virtually versus face-to-face?

Be it in person or virtual, just be yourself. Think about the value that you’re adding by sharing what you know versus what anyone’s going to think of you. We tend to be nervous or anxious when we think, “How is this going to be perceived? How are people going to judge me?” Those questions derail us from giving our best. Think of how you’re going to impact people; what they’re going to get out of it. That puts you in a place of certainty and confidence.

What advice would you give to a member who has a story to tell that might educate the industry, but doesn’t know if their presentation topic is unique?

Two people working in the same organization, same exact location, can have completely different experiences. That’s the beauty of this industry: No two days are exactly the same. Even if your audience has had the same experience, that could be something to bond over. Next time someone sees you, they’re going to say, “Hey! I’ve had that experience, too. Glad to know you’re in the same boat.” If you’re given the opportunity to share your take on an experience, grab it. You never know what that will lead to, or who that’s going to impact.

ISRI2022 will be March 21-24, 2022, in Las Vegas. ISRI is seeking high-quality session proposals that address a full range of issues facing recycling companies that process, broker, and consume recycled commodities. Time slots are available in 20-, 45-, and 60-minute increments. If you would like to submit a session proposal, please do so on or before Tuesday, Aug. 10. Notifications regarding the selection status of the submissions will be distributed no later than Friday, Aug. 27.

Dan Hockensmith

Dan Hockensmith

I'm a native Ohioan who since 2014 has called Maryland home. My background includes print, broadcast, and digital journalism; government contracting; marketing communications; and nonprofit advocacy.