Yin Wai Vanessa Li
For technical leadership enhanced by sincere communication; for mentorship informed by personal experience and empathy; and for dedicated service and outreach to women and girls.
Yin Wai Vanessa Li is a process leader for Novelis, a leading supplier of flat-rolled aluminum products and the world’s largest aluminum recycler. In this role, she leads a team of six; oversees lab activities; leads product development efforts; provides technical customer support; and drives production, quality, and continuous improvement initiatives.
After beginning her career as a quality engineer at United States Steel Corporation, Li moved to Thyssenkrupp Steel LLC in Calvert, Alabama, where she became a lead quality specialist. There, she led new employee development for the hot-dipped galvanizing lines and guided construction of two process labs in the greenfield project. She gained respect from different levels of the organization for her ability to resolve quality and customer issues.
In 2015, Li joined Novelis in Novi, Michigan, as a supplier quality engineer supporting automotive customers. By 2018, she had become a process leader in the company’s Terre Haute, Indiana, plant, where she was the only woman engineer and the only Asian employee in the 160-person facility.
As a site champion of the women’s employee resource group, Women in Novelis, Li has helped develop programs that support women in the workplace, piloting a mentoring program and leading outreach events for local colleges and K-12 schools.
Li understands the impact of mentorship, having come to the U.S. from Hong Kong alone at the age of 16. She hosted weekend homestay for international students. She mentors young professionals and returning college students via the Pass the Torch for Women Foundation, supports EngineerGirl ambassadors with their community projects, serves on the board of Pretty Hearts Foundation, and remains active as a speaker and role model in numerous DEI and STEM outreach programs.
Through SWE, Li is the treasurer of the Southwest Central Indiana Section. At the Society level, she has held various positions in the African American Affinity Group, the Asian Connections Affinity Group, membership committee, and outreach committee. She is a 2020 Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame inductee, a 2021 recipient of SWE’s WE Local Engaged Advocate Award, and a Thomasnet Champion of Industry Award recipient (2020). She is a Six Sigma green belt and holds a patent in Titanium doped oxide photocatalytic aqueous solution treatment methods.
Li holds a B.S. in materials science and engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from Indiana University Bloomington.
In her leisure time, Li enjoys traveling, exploring different cuisines, and listening to symphony orchestra performances.