10 Questions for Milda Rojas
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and this year’s theme is Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service. To celebrate, we’re spotlighting some of the purpose-driven leaders here at Northwest Pipe Company.
10 Questions for Milda Rojas
As Senior Inventory and Cost Manager at our Tracy, California plant, Milda oversees the Production Control and Scheduling, Purchasing, and Warehouse Departments. Milda ensures production and shipping schedules are on track to meet customer needs, and that project materials are cost-effective and ordered on time. Her role also supports the Operations Manager in monitoring, analyzing, and reporting project costs and plant forecasts.
1. What is your job title and how long have you been with Northwest Pipe Company?
Senior Inventory and Cost Control Manager, 38.5 years.
2. Describe the journey leading to your current position?
Three years after immigrated from the Philippines I was hired as an Accounting Assistant at Ameron International (acquired by Northwest Pipe in 2018). I held various positions in Accounting, Human Resources, and Distribution and Management Information Systems. I worked in these areas at five locations throughout California and Arkansas. I have been in my current position at the Tracy plant for three years.
3. What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
Seeing the life cycle of a project, from inception to finish, and being directly involved in the support of these various processes.
4. Name two things that always brighten your day— one at work and one outside of work?
At work: Working with a group of co-workers that are fun and have a positive attitude.
Outside of work: When the weather is sunny so I can do what I enjoy outdoors—hiking, riding my bike, or just walking.
5. The theme of this year’s Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service. As an AAPI leader at NWP, how does this theme resonate with you?
It strongly resonates with me because as a member of the “Immigrant Baby Boomers”, my focus was often assimilation to the American way of life. Working smart and hard to attain the life of comfort that we dreamt about back in our home country was a driving force. The endeavor of this mindset now makes me realize that it should not stop with my own purpose. I now try to be mindful of my heritage and use the knowledge I have obtained through the years to influence and help others.
6. Which AAPI historical or current figure do you admire most for their leadership or service to others and why?
I admire all the Filipino immigrants who came before me who had the courage and grit to fight for social justice, economic reforms, and just plain getting recognized for their heritage. I am sure immigrants that followed them, like me, benefited from their persistence and tenacity in pursuing those beliefs.
7. Name someone in your life who inspires you to lead or live with purpose and why?
My parents have been the biggest inspiration in my life. They were school teachers back in the Philippines, assigned by the government to one of the most remote places in the country to start and develop a school for children of farmers who otherwise did not have a chance at formal education. While we lived in this village (called “barrio” in the Philippines), I watched both my parents organize, lead, and encourage the farmers to send their kids to school. I did not appreciate their efforts at a young age. As I got older, and years after we left, I hear some of these kids grew up to be model citizens, civic leaders, and professionals in my hometown and abroad. That makes me proud of my parents and encourages me to do the same.
8. What advice do you have for individuals entering your profession?
Respect others, continue learning new things, be ready to assist your peers, and always look for opportunities to grow and expand your horizon.
9. Are there any family traditions significant to you in celebrating your heritage?
We celebrate a few holidays here that we observed in the Philippines such as Philippine Independence Day and celebrating a Patron Saint that we honored in our churches back home. That involves food, parades, inviting local leaders to speak, playing mahjong and cards with family and friends, but most importantly more food, food, food….
10. What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
It is a reminder of my roots, an appreciation of my heritage which made me the person I am today. I recall what my parents always advised, “Don’t forget where you came from”. I am proud to be an immigrant and touched that companies like Northwest Pipe observe, highlight, and celebrate AAPI Heritage Month.