A Publication of WTVP

40 Leaders Under Forty

As material requirements planning manager at Caterpillar, Laura Ruiz-Santamaria is responsible for procuring and planning all undercarriage components produced in the East Peoria facility as well as subcontract facilities. She manages a five-member team responsible for 4,000 part numbers across 35 suppliers, leading global projects and working to drive supplier improvements and production efficiency. In 2021, they celebrated one year of 100% on-time delivery while contributing to record-breaking aftermarket sales.

An advocate and role model for STEM initiatives and diversity and inclusion (D&I), Ruiz-Santamaria has been a board member of the Caterpillar Latino Connection (CLC), a Spanish teacher and coordinator for Cat employees, and a volunteer in the Dealer Customer Interpreter program. She also served as CLC’s chair of cultural events, celebrating Hispanic and Latino culture and heritage.

A supporter of STEM outreach both locally and nationally, Ruiz-Santamaria leads career development seminars and social events for the Society of Woman Engineers Central Illinois Section (SWE-CI). As professional development (PD) committee chair, she secured grant funding to launch the first SWE-CI PD Speaker Series. She was a featured speaker in SWE’s nationwide Wow! Innovation Challenge and a coach in the 2021 Virtual Tech Trek Rubik’s Cube Workshop. She was recently elected to the SWE-CI Executive Board as secretary and has volunteered for multiple events introducing students to engineering careers.

This year Ruiz-Santamaria was a mentor through Caterpillar’s Women’s Initiative Network, guiding an engineering student through her internship. She also has been a mentor in the E4L (Education, Employment, Economic Foundation and Essential Skills for Life) program and through a STEM-related mentorship program at her alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago, which she co-founded as a student.

Ruiz-Santamaria has served as a classroom teacher for Junior Achievement of Central Illinois and a volunteer for the annual United Way campaign and Morton Pumpkin Festival. She received the 2017 Manufacturing Institute STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production) Ahead Women in Manufacturing Award; has been featured in multiple Caterpillar videos for STEM and D&I efforts; and served as a panelist for Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation initiative. PM