Print this page

Inspiring Everyday: Solving problems and building relationships

Keri DiBella was one of only two females in a college calculus class when her potential caught the instructor’s eye. If anything, it made things more difficult for her. The instructor challenged her by questioning if she had what it took to excel.

She rose to the challenge. And when he then encouraged her to consider engineering as a career path, it was a perfect fit.  

“I have a methodical, problem-solving engineering brain,” says Keri, a senior continuous improvement manager in Pensacola. “I’m wired to eliminate waste and drive improvements, so our better every day value is a natural fit for me.” 

It’s a mindset that has served her very well during a 29-year career with Ascend. Keri has a chemical engineering degree from Florida State University and has held various roles in chemical and nylon engineering, SAP implementation, supply chain and operations planning, and project management.

In her current role as a transformation manager, she leads teams helping Ascend’s commercial and technology organizations optimize growth and execute strategy. The role centers around two of her favorite things. 

“I enjoy solving problems and building relationships the most,” Keri says. “Fortunately, all my roles at Ascend have allowed me to do both in some way, but my two most recent positions in supply chain and transformation management have been completely focused on these areas. They’ve been the most satisfying roles of my career.” 

She also enjoys coaching and mentoring others, helping them maximize their potential and build confidence. This investment in people has resulted in widespread respect from her peers.  

“Keri is a quiet and effective leader,” says Debbie Keehn, senior vice president and chief transformation officer. “She stays true to our values no matter the situation, and consistently receives the most wonderful feedback from those she interfaces with.” 

When it comes to customers, Keri makes a difference with all audiences, says Al Faulkner, senior project engineering manager.  

“Every Ascend employee has internal customers and we all impact external customers through our work,” Al said. “In every role Keri has filled she puts her energy toward meeting these customers’ needs. She is incredibly customer-focused and Ascend is better with her on our team.” 

Staying nearly thirty years with one company is rare these days but for Keri, it runs in the family. Her father retired as an electrician after 35 years of service at the company’s Pensacola site. In fact, her first year was his last, so they spent a brief time as colleagues. Keri says she gets her engineering mind from her dad and his desire to tinker and fix things.  

She converted that curiosity into a six-sigma black belt and a skillset that has been extremely instrumental in driving positive improvements for Ascend. 

“Keri has led so many important cross-functional Ascend initiatives,” says Debbie. “She uses her black belt expertise to drive unemotional results and is always willing to tackle the next big transformational opportunity. No matter how challenging it is, she is always willing!”