Ten Leaders to Know: Marguerite Tomlin (Full Profile)

August 14, 2023 | Ten Leaders to Know

Internal Communications Specialist


Birth City

Current City

How did you get where you are today?
I got to where I am today with a combination of luck and hard work. I started my career in journalism as a copy editor and designer, and I absolutely loved it. I loved figuring out the best ways to tell a story, capture people's attention and, most importantly, ensure it was accurate. I did that for about 6 years before I felt the pull to do something more, but I had no idea what that would be. As luck would have it, right as I started looking, a communication position opened up at Arconic (then Alcoa). To be perfectly honest, I knew nothing about them except that they were a big employer in the Quad-Cities. I was fortunate enough to get the job, and I have loved it ever since. I work with some of the brightest people I have ever met. Not only do they know the industry inside and out, but they know how to engage their employees and what it means to be a part of the community.

What excites you the most about the business you work in?
I’m excited about the opportunities! I say that for both the public relations field and for the rolling industry. In public relations, there are endless ways you can engage with employees and the community. If you can dream it, you can do it (within reason of course). I love coming up with a new event or new way to reach my co-workers to help fill a need that’s not yet being met. Right now, we’re working on ways to bring high school students to Arconic and expose them to career opportunities. We’re trying to start those connections earlier than we ever have, and that’s exciting. In the rolling industry, our metallurgists and tech center are constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to use our products.

What do you see as the next big trend in your industry?
I foresee the next big trend as personalized and mobile communications with those who may not have had that access before. Right now, we’re using a text alert system to reach employees on the shop floor who don’t have access to email or aren’t on a computer all day. We’ve rolled out an app to give them access to corporate and location-specific news. I see that continuing to expand, so a communications experience is so much more than a top-down approach.

Where do you look for inspiration or to generate new ideas?
I’m always on the lookout for inspiration. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is, “when you’re thinking over a problem, get up from your desk, go outside, go for a walk, get out in nature – do something other than just sit. It will help change the way you think about a problem.” So, I typically do that to find inspiration. I also really enjoy talking over an idea with others, particularly those outside my industry. It’s amazing how hearing a different perspective will generate a completely new idea.

What does effective leadership mean to you?
Effective leadership means caring about and reaching employees in a way that works best for them. No matter what industry you’re in, you’re only as good as the employees who work for you. If you want to be an effective leader, that means communicating with employees in a way they understand, providing the critical information and feedback they need, and motivating them in a way that suits them to help them perform their best.

What is your favorite thing about Iowa?
I appreciate how unassuming and unexpected it is. So many people think of Iowa as nothing but cows and cornfields, but it’s so much more than that. We have major cities, thriving downtowns, leading manufacturing environments and health care institutes, amusement parks, beautiful landscapes and trails, interesting history, fun museums and zoos. Heck, we even have some beaches! There’s so much more than meets the stereotype.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
I wish I could give myself the advice, networking is not as scary as you think! There was a reason I was a copy editor for so long. I enjoyed (and still very much do) being behind the scenes. Once I got to Arconic, I went from being around 40 employees to about 2,500. So it was a big change and forced me to get outside of my comfort zone. I’m so glad I did. It has been a blast networking with my fellow employees, others in the community and the state.

Why are you a member of ABI?
My supervisor, John Riches, has been a participant and board member of ABI for many years. Through his association, I’ve been able to witness firsthand how much ABI does for businesses in Iowa. They are constantly checking in to see what businesses need, what help they can provide and trying to move that needle in the right direction. It’s such a great group for this state, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Who do you look to for mentorship?
I look to those I work with. I work with some brilliant people, including my boss John Riches and our VP of Business Excellence Steven Jennings. I also look to those in the community. I’m proud to serve on the Junior Achievement Board. They have some of the most caring individuals on their board, including fellow ABI member Matt Rebro and JA President Dougal Nelson. But my first and forever mentors are my parents. They have done some amazing things in their lives, including running their own business, and they always have others best interests at heart.

As a business leader, what book would you recommend for personal or professional growth?
From Good to Great by Jim Collins