Blog / Employee Spotlight

Employee Spotlight: Phillip Smith Jr.

December 18, 2023

Philip Smith Jr. | Production Lead, Coil Winding | Joined Penumbra in 2016

Q. What is your current role at Penumbra?

I have worked the day shift for more than seven years. I built myself up as a production builder and then became the first Deaf Lead. I want to use my experience to reach my goals. I do not want to stop as a Lead. I’d like to be something more, like supervisor or upper management. That shows how much I love working for Penumbra!

My responsibilities as Lead include supporting my production team, helping them get what they need for successful line flow. I am all about follow-up and regularly report how the line is performing to my supervisor. I want to help make as much of our product as possible because I know the impact it can have on patients’ lives. My team is a hardworking group that cares about people.

Q. If you did not pursue your current career, what do you see yourself doing professionally?

I love to cook barbecue. So, I would own a barbecue business. I’d call it Simple Meals and work as the chef. I grew up with family members who have a passion for barbecue and use it as a way to keep family together. I approach barbecue like a science project, preparing meals to test and compare flavors. I love to experiment with timing, as well as new equipment and methods. Whether it’s cooked indoors or outdoors, I think the love that goes into making the food is what makes it special.

Q. Describe a travel adventure that you’ll never forget.

When my brother and I were younger, we went to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at a movie theater. I remember leaving the theater and realizing we had no money for transportation. We walked for two hours to get home. Since then, I’ve traveled in and out of the United States, yet that “adventure” with my brother is what comes to mind.

Q. What is your personal philosophy?

I believe “action is character.” I am a doer and I believe I can do anything. I also believe it’s important to “be present in the moment.” I make sure that I live in the moment and not let the fact that I can’t hear prevent me from achieving my goals. I am human just like all. Being present in the moment helps me be successful in my work.

Q. Before working at Penumbra, describe the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had.

I worked as a teacher/teacher aide for a Deaf program at an elementary school in Oakland, CA. We taught lessons according to each grade’s curriculum, introduced the children to the world around them, and helped them learn about who they are as individuals.

I loved my job. I loved sharing everything I had learned both as a student as well as through experience. I enjoyed working with the Deaf kids and the other kids at the school, which has been so supportive of me and my community. I am all for them.

Q. What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I have been bowling for more than 12 years in leagues and tournaments in the Bay Area, as well as Reno, Las Vegas, and other U.S. cities. In 2019, I competed as a member of the USA Deaf Bowling team at the World Deaf Bowling Championship held in Taiwan. We won 3rd place. This past summer, I traveled to Munich, Germany, to compete in this year’s championship. It was a difficult tournament. Now, I’m looking ahead to 2025, when I plan to travel to Japan to bowl on the US team again. I’ll be ready for it. Bowling is my Zen therapy.

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