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Inspiring Everyday: Always looking for new ways to improve

As a grade-school girl in Poland, Anna Strandella spent hours in her grandfather’s small garage, helping him tinker with parts and repair engines for customers. Together they opened each car, searched to discover the problem, then made the repair.

“I think maybe that’s where it all started for me,” says Anna, a manufacturing engineer in Tilburg. “I’m now the type of person who’s always digging for solutions. Every single day I want to learn something new.”

This simple yet passionate approach to life is one that has led Anna to a new country and a career she never dreamed possible.

In school, Anna was fascinated with math, science and chemistry. Her natural curiosity resulted in a Master of Science degree in materials engineering, a field she loved but thought limited her career options. “I never expected I would be able to work in my specialized field. It seemed nearly impossible in my home country.”

Driven by her desire to learn, Anna made a bold move. She left Poland for the Netherlands, eventually finding work as a lab technician for Ascend. The materials manufacturing environment offered a new challenge every day, and Anna thrived in it.

“I asked my manager to give me additional work so I could learn more,” she says. “I’m always so curious to learn and develop myself.”

Anna quickly progressed from lab technician to quality control, then lab supervisor. As she did, a familiar theme began to emerge: in every role, she improved things.

“Anna’s determination, devotion and persistence to get things done just naturally result in her making things better every day,” says Ton Broeders, Tilburg site director. “She has a great talent for technology, and she continually brings Ascend and her colleagues to the next level.”

Her enthusiasm for personal growth is not limited to just her work. Anna is always ready to volunteer for Ascend Cares projects in the community. She's also well-known and appreciated among her coworkers for baking and sharing the most delicious homemade cookies.

“Anna is a warm and energetic person, and a highly respected colleague,” says senior site director Marcel Woestenburg. “She always sets a great example when it comes to living our Ascend values.”

Now in her sixth year with Ascend, Anna works in technology, developing trials for new products. It’s a role that allows her to interact with nearly every area of the site, from operations and quality to maintenance and the lab.

“I love organizing our effort among all the departments, like one big team,” she says. “There’s so much positive energy. And when we complete a trial successfully, that’s when I feel most happy and satisfied.”

Anna has become a valuable advisor to Ascend sites across Europe and the U.S. She is also eager to partner with sites around the world to discover and create new products. For someone who never imagined exploring new chemistries and materials could be a career, it feels like the perfect spot, says Anna. “I think if you really want it, maybe anything is possible.”