By Rachael Pfenninger, Director of Strategic Execution, AMBA

On June 22, 2021, members of AMBA’s Emerging Leaders Network met in person for the first time in more than 18 months at AMBA Conference 2021’s pre-conference session. Facilitated by keynote speaker Phil Van Hooser, Phil Van Hooser Associates, this session investigated the intricacies of decision making for up-and-coming leaders in mold manufacturing and the role those decisions play in their development as organizational leaders.

The three-hour session included three programming segments, including an exploration of common attitudes exhibited by emerging leaders in professional development settings, the five “bases” necessary for thoughtful and effective decision making and an all-group discussion of leadership scenarios presented by attendees that reviewed the application of various decision-making principles.

Through the application of Van Hooser’s principles, attendees realized that, although many decisions often are driven by emotion and snap judgement, the best leaders treat workplace decision making as a methodical process that can be studied, practiced and improved upon. 

Additionally, attendees learned that the process of improvement is not unique to their own experiences. In many instances, the all-group discussion provided reflection, perspective and opportunities for improvement, as well as the affirmation that decisions considered carefully can impact the business’ bottom line, have a reverberating impact on relationships with peers and management and positively drive one’s leadership path.

“Phil was a great presenter,” said Curtis Phillips, Freeman Company. “When a scenario I submitted was discussed by the group, it was validating to see how others would have responded and the value that was placed on doing something to preserve that situation. Overall, the Emerging Leaders event was a great experience. I really felt like I gained valuable knowledge and skills that I would have missed out on if I had not attended.”

A long-time mentor, Van Hooser is passionate about setting the next generation up for success. This encompasses not just providing guidance, but also cultivating the necessary mentality that emerging professionals must have to fully benefit from  their learning opportunities. “The art of leadership and successful decision making requires an understanding of foundational principles, an acceptance of established parameters and the will to follow through to the end in order to make the best decisions possible,” explained Van Hooser. “Admittedly, this can be uncomfortable. But with discomfort comes expected growth.” 

AMBA’s Emerging Leaders have another opportunity to continue their leadership journey through upcoming programming on lean manufacturing principles. Learn more at

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