For the last eight months, Esther Sahagun-Soto has been a valued member of the ALine team, building an upbeat, productive work environment as operations manager. Beyond contributing her radiant positivity, Esther ensures everything runs smoothly, and everyone works at the same pace and is on the same page. In an office setting as dynamic as ALine, there are many moving parts at all times, and it is her job to make sure the whole team is working together to keep it running. On most days, she often says, “teamwork makes the dream work.” This reason is why she likes working with ALine and enjoys coming in every day to her job: the team.
Whether it is her extroverted and outgoing nature or her experience in a leadership role, Esther loves to motivate the team to be team players and create an environment where everyone is comfortable. Plus, the team at ALine is a creative bunch that habitually bounces ideas off of each other. They are quality-driven from process to product, always focused on delivering the best and highest quality designs and goods.
Beyond just her team, Esther is constantly motivated by the president and CEO of ALine, Leanna, and the Director of Engineering, Stefano. Esther said: “They are both brilliant and great people to learn from.” Interestingly, she was recommended for the position by a current employee. They were right, Esther has been a perfect fit and brought the enthusiasm and skill needed to create a team environment focused on getting things done.
Coming from a background in architecture from Woodbury University in Burbank, California, and working previously in a similar role at a manufacturer of prefab homes, Esther is used to making processes better, faster, and stronger, and dealing with a lot of moving parts. She applies those skills at ALine, where rapid short run manufacture is the main challenge. While keeping the standard day-to-day operations running, she created many standard operating procedures (SOPs) and restructured work instructions to lower barriers to implementation. Outside her daily responsibilities, ALine is a place where she can decorate the office for every holiday and be happy to go to work.
Esther’s love for building and creating comes from her family. Esther fondly recalls growing up in a big family, and during visits, they would repurpose shopping carts to expand their treehouses and use fabric scraps to sew their own cushions. This love of building, creativity, and ingenuity continued in college when Esther and her team of 4 entered into a design-build competition. “I loved the collaboration process, delegation, and team building,” she said. These experiences are a few of the memorable moments that inspired her career.
Outside of the office, Esther has a second-degree black belt in Kung Fu, using her skills to mentor both adults and children alike. She also enjoys practicing Tai Chi in the morning. The two mixed martial arts have instilled discipline, patience, and life principles that flow into other aspects of life. She said: “One of my favorite philosophies in my school was our orange belt one. From slowness comes understanding, through understanding comes comfort, anything truly comfortable is usable. This has always resonated with me. You’re not always fast in the beginning but you can definitely get there if you understand the principle of what you want or need to do.” Esther also enjoys calling a place close to the beach home, as it gives her the perfect place to roller skate and play volleyball with friends and family.
Additionally, as a first-generation Mexican-American, Esther is the first in her family to graduate high school and college. When asked which historical figure she looks up to the most, Esther is truly inspired by the stories of refugees and immigrants. She said, “their sacrifice and brave decisions rippled through the next generations. They’ve had to assess their risks, although great, they felt the reward must be worth their hard work.” However, if she had to choose, she would pick Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, a philosophy focused on harmony and the paths that lead to it.
Every day is exciting, fulfilling, and seeing the work she does come to fruition and automating processes is rewarding. Taking an idea or concept and pulling it into reality through hard work with a team that inspires and challenges each other is what makes Esther happiest. Not only does ALine fulfill that, but they also endeavor to make scientific testing and discovery easier every day through applied microfluidics.