Thriving as a Woman in a Male-Dominated Industry: Cindy J Miller of Stericycle On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman In a Male Dominated Industry

An Interview With Ming Zhao

Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine
Published in
5 min readSep 11, 2022


I hope women never forget that that they are their best advocate for the change that they want to see. Every time you say “yes” to a new opportunity, you are making yourself more powerful and making your company better. When you say “no,” you are building your own ceiling and creating your own limitations.

In the United States in 2022, fields such as Aircraft piloting, Agriculture, Architecture, Construction, Finance, and Information technology, are still male-dominated industries. For a woman who is working in a male-dominated environment, what exactly does it take to thrive and succeed? In this interview series, we are talking to successful women who work in a Male-Dominated Industry who can share their stories and experiences about navigating work and life as strong women in a male-dominated industry. As a part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cindy J. Miller.

Cindy J. Miller was named Chief Executive Officer of Stericycle, Inc. on May 2, 2019 after servingPresident and Chief Operating Officer since October 2018. She is responsible for strategic direction.

and business transformation of the $2.7 billion services company based out of Bannockburn, Illinois. Stericycle is a global leader in business-to-business services including regulated waste and compliance, secure information destruction, and patient engagement.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I started my career as a package driver for UPS, where I learned the importance of saying “yes” to new opportunities more than saying “no.” New opportunities gave me a broader understanding of the business, which gave me the ability to take on various leadership roles at UPS, including becoming President of UPS Europe a $7 billion-dollar business unit with 45,000 employees before finishing my career at UPS as President of Global Freight Forwarding.

At that point in my career, I had worked at UPS for more than 30 years, and I knew it was time for a change. I felt that my expertise in logistics and operations was a perfect fit for Stericycle, a medical waste management company working to protect the health and safety of communities around the world. I joined Stericycle as President and Chief Operating Officer in 2018, and less than a year later I was appointed CEO. Although I am the first female CEO of a publicly traded waste company and in the top position at Stericycle, I am still at home with drivers and plant workers. When I hear engines and smell diesel, it takes me to the place where I started and spent a good bit of my career learning.

What do you think male-oriented organizations can do to enhance their recruiting efforts to attract more women?

At the end of the day, the best way to recruit women is to create a better workplace for all team members. Everyone, regardless of their gender, wants a company that prioritizes their safety and well-being, provides competitive benefits, and promotes education and career opportunities.

It’s also important that women see themselves represented at work, especially in positions of leadership. It tells them that they, too, can rise through the ranks like I did at UPS. I’m glad that women at Stericycle can see themselves represented at all levels of this organization, including in the C-suite.

If you had a close woman friend who came to you with a choice of entering a field that is male dominated or female dominated, what would you advise her? Would you advise a woman friend to start a career in a field or industry that’s traditionally been mostly men? Can you explain what you mean?

If a close friend asked me whether she should join a male or female dominated industry, I would tell her to choose the career that best enables her to grow, lead, and discover her passions. I think it’s great when women bring their strengths to male-dominated professions, but at the end of the day, everyone must choose the career path that best fits their needs and goals.

I always remind women entering male-dominated professions that their gender does not define their ability to succeed. Over the span of my career, I have witnessed a shift in the workplace and emphasis on bringing your whole self to work. In a male-dominated industry, this is not always easy to do, but I encourage women to use their voice and make sure their valuable perspective is heard.

I hope women never forget that that they are their best advocate for the change that they want to see. Every time you say “yes” to a new opportunity, you are making yourself more powerful and making your company better. When you say “no,” you are building your own ceiling and creating your own limitations.

Have you seen things change for women working in male dominated industries, over the past ten years? How do you anticipate that it might improve in the future? Can you please explain what you mean?

Stericycle’s diverse leadership team, board, and I are all a testament that things are changing for women working in male-dominated industries. I’m especially encouraged by the ways female employees in male-dominated industries have created and found community together to help each other rise through their organizations. For example, Stericycle has the Women’s Resource for Impact, Success, and Empowerment (WRISE) group, which allows our female employees to connect with each other and share advice on career development. In the future, I hope all companies in all fields — especially male-dominated industries — build and invest in groups like WRISE.

Stericycle also hosts an annual International Women’s Summit, which brings together female leaders for a series of events designed to foster personal and professional growth. Stericycle champions a culture where women can grow, lead, and support others. I hope to see more female CEOs in industries like waste and logistics.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.



Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine

Co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare. Ming is an entrepreneur, business strategist, investor and podcast host.