Saranya Tangvitoontham Wins Women in Manufacturing Leadership Award

The Manufacturing Institute honors Saranya Tangvitoontham, Director – Kohler Operating System and Transformation Office, for her excellence and leadership in manufacturing.
May 1, 2024 10:00 AM ET

Saranya Tangvitoontham has had a 16-year career of firsts at Kohler Co. She was the first female General Supervisor at Wisconsin Vitreous Operations, first female Plant Manager at Wisconsin Cast Iron Operations and first female Associate Director of Quality and Continuous Improvement in Global Vitreous. She’s been promoted nine times in different operations roles across three continents and is currently serving as Director of the Kohler Operating System and Transformation Management Office.

The Manufacturing Institute has named Saranya a 2024 Women MAKE Awards Honoree. She is being recognized as part of prestigious peer-selected group of 100 women leaders and 30 rising female stars based on their contributions to their companies, communities and developing the next generation of talent. Winners were announced this month by the Manufacturing Institute, and Saranya will officially accept the honor at the 2024 Women MAKE Awards Gala in Washington D.C., on Thursday, April 18. See all honorees here.

“I am incredibly humbled by this honor, and I am proud to represent Kohler Company in accepting this award among the other honorees,” said Saranya, “This is a great step forward for women excelling in Manufacturing; and if this award inspires more women to enter and succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production careers at Kohler, that will be a true fulfillment.”

In 2023 alone, Saranya and the Global CI team implemented a lean program, training more than 1,500 associates from leadership to machine operators. Her team set critical standards for Kohler’s plants around the globe to achieve their priorities through a factory master plan. Saranya also led a refocus and rebranding of the Kohler Operation System, educating each plant on its importance and implementation. Through Saranya’s transformation role, her contributions to the Kitchen and Bath operations have helped streamline the entire organization with a focus on company performance and associates’ growth.

Saranya recognizes the importance of mentorship and STEM education and she’s committed to sharing these career opportunities with young people from all backgrounds. She participated in a STEM Outreach Program at Kohler for middle school students. Additionally, she has been mentoring young talent for over 10 years. She is also the founder and past President of the Asian Resources of Kohler business resource group.

When it comes to her path to success, Saranya finds inspiration in the quote by Tim Notke — “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

“I have never claimed to be the smartest in the room, but I have always been one of the hardest working. When challenges come your way, stay persistent, stay focused and never give up,” said Saranya. “Temporary failure is the best learning opportunity, and it could be a steppingstone to success. Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

Outside of work, Saranya continues her focus on excellence as a youth coach, mentor to the program coordinator and member of the board of review for the American Heritage Girls organization award recipients. A favorite activity with the girls has allowed Saranya to share her passion for ballroom dancing as she helped a room full of 5- to 18-year-olds earn their Dance Badge. A ballroom dancing competitor since college, Saranya continues to compete at the professional/amateur level and has placed first statewide and third nationally in International Ballroom at the United States Dance Championship. Saranya and her husband are active in their church and supporters of its mission work in Gabon, as well as several local charities.