Women in the Tire Industry: Discover Susanna’s Inspiring Journey

Imagine a woman entering the tire industry and being greeted with skepticism: “Could she possibly be a man?” Such comments marked the beginning of Susanna Karra’s remarkable two-decade journey in a field traditionally dominated by men. Despite the challenges, Susanna never backed down: she stood tall and excelled in her field.  

Introducing Susanna Karra, Project Engineer 
Susanna Karra, Aki Nurminen

Who is Susanna Karra? 

Susanna Karra is a project engineer at Black Donuts Engineering Inc. (BDE). In 2004, Susanna began her career in the tire industry, which was quite different back then. With a deep-seated passion for machinery, Susanna was often overlooked in favor of male colleagues despite her evident skill and dedication. Over the years, the industry has evolved. Today, Susanna not only has the respect of her colleagues within the industry but also challenges cultural norms surrounding gender roles in the workplace.

Briefly about Black Donuts Services

BDE services cover everything from designing brand-new tire plants to enhancing existing ones, tire and material development expertise, tire testing, certification, and optimizing production. Our process encompasses everything from purchasing equipment to supervising construction, providing technical support, and conducting maintenance. A crucial step in this process is machine installation, where Susanna Karra excels. Positioned at the intersection of technology and practical application, together with our team, she ensures that machinery operates seamlessly and efficiently, maximizing value for our clients.

Client case #1

During a regular visit to a client’s factory, there was much confusion because a machine wasn’t working correctly. While the floor staff speculated about operator errors or potential mechanical failure, Susanna quickly assessed the situation. She noticed unusual misalignments that others had missed. With her expertise, she adjusted the machine’s grinder settings, restoring its function within minutes. Her quick diagnosis and action solved the problem and demonstrated her deep understanding of machine mechanics.

Client-case #2

Another time, a machine at a different factory couldn’t be used because the metal blade was set up wrong. Susanna went there to see what was wrong. She fixed the blade to be in the correct position and ensured everything worked correctly. Thanks to her, the machine ran again quickly, which helped keep the factory running smoothly.

Consistent Contribution

Susanna’s story shows how dedication and modesty can overcome tough challenges. Her profound understanding of machinery and problem-solving capabilities have earned her the deep respect of her equivalents. She often remarks that while machines are generally reliable, their performance can be unpredictable, emphasizing the need to understand the mechanical and material aspects of tire manufacturing. 

While we can predict how machines work, we can rarely predict how rubber will behave due to its uniqueness.  The machine can be perfect, but we must also understand the material and its behavior under pressure and different temperatures.

Inspiring From Afar: Indirect Empowerment

During Susanna’s career, she has ventured into exotic countries where societal norms dictate strict gender roles, prohibiting women from engaging in activities as fundamental as sitting next to men, let alone conducting business hand in hand. Despite facing tough challenges, like working with different cultures, she’s excelled, from Europe to Asia to Africa and North and South America, whether a greenfield or a brownfield project.  And she’s not stopping there—she’s indirectly empowering women in places with fewer opportunities to have a fair shot, too. For example, a factory manager said during her recent trip to one of our greenfield project locations, “Our secretary was thrilled to see Susanna in action. She’s inspired and talked to other women about their potential and courage to follow their dreams in different industries.”

From Doubt to Respect

Earning respect in a job done mainly by men is hard work. But Susanna has earned it by working hard and loving what she does. And while her career began with, ‘Are you sure she isn’t a man, today, Susanna now receives respect, acceptance, and recognition for her expertise. A recent comment from a machine supplier, “You set the standard,” felt fitting to her. This acknowledgement validated Susanna’s capabilities, showcasing her ability to break free from gender stereotypes and thrive in her profession.

Susanna Karra’s journey in the tire industry is not just a tale of a skilled engineer; it is a testament to perseverance and leadership in a male-dominated field. Throughout her career, Susanna has solved complex mechanical issues and shattered cultural and gender barriers, proving her spirit from Europe to Asia and the Americas. Her story encourages us all to persist and excel in our pursuits, regardless of our challenges.


Black Donuts Engineering Team!