SMU Community Spotlight

SMU Spotlight: AWMI Board Member Estelle Tran

Written by Becca Moczygemba

There are many great, supportive organizations in the steel and metals industry. One that continues to grow as the industry evolves is the Association of Women in the Metal Industries (AWMI). 

Estele Tran Headshot 052323Founded in 1981, AWMI is an international organization that was established to promote and develop the growth of women in the metal industries. AWMI membership is open to men and women looking to progress with professional development and career advancement.

While being a member may entail attending AWMI meetings and events, working behind the scenes requires even more dedication. We recently caught up with Estelle Tran, an AWMI board member of the Pittsburgh chapter, and board member on the regional level. She is a prices lead for CRU based in Pittsburgh, the editor of the Steel Monitor for CRU, and the main contact for data providers to CRU’s leading flat-rolled steel indices. Estelle also covers the North American bulk ferroalloys market and analyzes the SMU Service Center Inventories Report.

A lightly edited text of the interview is below.

Steel Market Update: How long have you worked at CRU?

Estelle Tran: It’ll be six years in October.

SMU: What did you do before?

ET: I worked for another price reporting agency doing similar work. I started with long products and then moved into sheet products. Basically, my entire career has been reporting on steel pricing.

SMU: Was that your goal when you finished college?

ET: I studied journalism and I imagined myself reporting on government affairs. I had an internship reporting on shale gas, but it morphed into a steel reporting job when the company was acquired. It was a natural transition. I grew up in Pittsburgh, so it was very relevant and exciting for me.

SMU: What’s a significant highlight in your steel career?

ET: I would say that my involvement in AWMI and coming up in the ranks of that organization. It’s really opened a lot of doors for me. I’ve made a lot of friends and had a lot of great experiences. There are women and men in the organization, but I really enjoy meeting other women in the industry.

SMU: Do you volunteer with your local chapter?

ET: I’m a past president and the marketing chair for the Pittsburgh chapter. I’m also the vice chair for the Northeast region. In a few years I hope to become regional director. So I’m involved on the local and regional level.

SMU: That’s amazing. How does someone get involved as a board member?

ET: A coworker actually brought me onto the board when I first joined the industry. There are volunteer opportunities that don’t involve the full responsibility of being a board member. You can get involved with something like helping for an event, helping with fundraising, or volunteering to handle registrations. Then, express your interest to someone who is on the board.

SMU: What are the benefits of joining AWMI? I’ve been to my chapter’s events, like TopGolf and crawfish boils, and it’s always a good time.

ET: To be honest, when I started, I felt that a lot of women were not getting opportunities to travel or have as many learning opportunities. Being a part of this organization and having corporate supporters, people who are big-name speakers, it really gave us the opportunity to meet with people in the industry. I find that most people who travel are in sales, and a lot of women who are in inside sales or other roles don’t get exposed to as much. Through this organization, I’ve been on many mill tours and met people I may have not had the opportunity to meet.

SMU: It really is a great organization!

ET: Another aspect of being on the board is that you’re basically exposed to running a non-profit. You get to take on new skills you may not get in your normal job. You might become treasurer and learn QuickBooks, be involved in event planning or fundraising. It’s fun to pick up a different set of skills.

SMU: Speaking of jobs, can you elaborate on what you do at CRU?

ET: I am the main contact for data providers who provide their transactions to the CRU flat-rolled steel assessments. We have the benchmark for hot-rolled coil that’s used in the CME futures contract. More than 90%, maybe 95%, of physical contracts use CRU. I also do the analysis for the service center inventory survey.

SMU: What exactly is the service center inventory survey?

ET: Data providers submit their end-of-month inventories, their total shipments, the amount of material they have on order, and the percentage of their inventory that’s dedicated to contracts and not available for spot. With those numbers we can do various calculations that contribute to forecasting and other important pieces of the puzzle.

SMU: Is it restricted to certain people, or can anyone be a data provider?

ET: So, to be a data provider you must be a US-based service center that is buying prime steel directly from US mills. I would encourage anybody who’s interested to reach out to me because there are additional benefits to being a data provider.

SMU: Benefits?

ET: You get access to the data about material on order. At the end of the month, all your reporting, all the material for sheet or plate that you have on order, we compile all that information. You also receive a flash report on the fifth business day of the month.

SMU: It sounds like you’re very passionate about what you do.

ET: I love talking about steel. It’s a way to bring the world closer whenever big news events happen and you can understand what that will do to the market. I love that it’s something tangible and something that you can really cheer for.

SMU: Do you have any advice for other women in the industry?

ET: I would say find your people. Not everybody golfs or talks about sports, so you can find people who share the same interests as you, especially in AWMI. Be open. Network and get out there and find people who are going to support you, share advice, and give feedback.

Click here to learn more about AWMI.

By Becca Moczygemba,

Becca Moczygemba

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