Women of Western Wake: Charmaine Riggins

Cary resident Charmaine Riggins has turned her good fortune in life into helping others achieve the same. Her professional accomplishments are impressive and long. She is currently the chief executive officer for Loparex. She joined Loparex from the Parker Hannifin-LORD Corporation, where she built her career over 27 years in various global roles leading company integration, human resources, enterprise systems, and as vice president over several global regions.

The first member of her family to graduate from college, Riggins earned a chemical engineering degree from The Ohio State University and an MBA in Innovation and Supply Chain Management from North Carolina State University. She then went on to earn an Advanced Management degree at the Chicago Booth School of Business. She claims she has had three essential mentors in her life. The first was her grandmother.

“Sometimes you need someone who tells you, you can do it,” said Riggins. “It’s motivational, but it also helps you to have more confidence in yourself. I had a counselor at school who introduced me to a woman who was a Procter & Gamble leader. She said with my grades I should get my degree in engineering. That stretched me. From a business perspective, LORD Corporation brought on a different kind of CEO, Rick McNeil, who was business and engineering-minded. ‘How do we change the corporation to include inclusivity?’ That stuck with me.”

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Riggins moved to North Carolina in 1995 when the LORD Corporation (now a Parker Hannifin company) relocated the business to Cary. She immersed herself into the community and raised her two kids, aged 21 and 16, except for a few years when her company sent the family to live in Geneva, Switzerland.

Contributed photo

“That experience changed me from a cultural standpoint,” said Riggins. “My kids benefited from it, as well.”

Riggins said her interest in technology, research, and development motivated her to get into her line of work. Loparex is a private global diversified technology and manufacturing company that manufactures release liners for items like stickers or Band-Aids.

“Outside of work, my husband and I are entrepreneurs at heart,” she said. “We had businesses and flipped houses to jump-start our family financially. I wanted to marry my corporate life with my business life. I went back to school to get my MBA and was able to transition from technology to the business side of LORD Corporation.”

Riggins said it’s rewarding to aid in growing businesses. In 2011, LORD Corporation put her in charge of a struggling sector and asked her what she would do with it. “To do the research and think about the business from a trends standpoint and how we were going to bring value was a challenge,” she said. “That business went to $4 million and now trends in the hundreds of millions. I don’t work for that company anymore, but I’m passionate about its success.”

That experience led her to Loparex as a chief talent and culture officer to inspire colleagues within the business. “I was able to help jump-start the journey there with the ‘hire to retire’ mentality rather than the traditional admin and tactical approach to personnel.”

She believes businesses must have social responsibility when it comes to hiring. “There is a gap here,” she added. “Many potential hires today lack skills that the business can easily teach — executive presenting, technology, especially among veterans, for example. Companies have to pivot and be flexible in order to expand the talent pool. As a member of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce board, the focus on K-12 education and infrastructure plays a pivotal role, as well.”

Riggins also supports the idea that we need a society of people who work and are passionate about helping others. She is passionate about children and puts her words into action by volunteering her time with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Junior Achievement. “Inspiring youth and giving them the ability to do something different and support the one-to-one mentorships is critical,” she said. “We can help them achieve their full potential. We must think about how the next generation will care for people like us. It’s our responsibility not just to help a small few, but to spread opportunity to more young people.”

Riggins’ accolades are impressive, but she doesn’t take all the credit. “Out of all the achievements that I have done, I didn’t do it alone,” she said. “I had a strong ecosystem, people who cared, whether they were mentors, family, or friends. We should have a board of directors who can motivate and stretch us, who can guide you and call you on your stuff.”

Riggins concluded that it’s essential to take some time for self-care and reflection. “Did I do the right things for the day? If not, I have another day to get it right,” she said. “I have an opportunity to help other people be successful like I have had. We need to support each other. It might sound cliché, but you know you are making a difference. We must shift and ensure we are not a society of entitlement. We will not prosper if we are. We need to make sure people realize the benefits of volunteering. Yes, we can’t save the world, but you can do your part, and everyone else can do their part.”

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