ABBY FERRI

Abby Ferri is a certified safety professional who weighs-in on how Xena’s fashionable, steel toes can help women in STEM put their best foot forward.

We recently connected with Abby Ferri, CSP, at the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) Safety Conference in New Orleans, where she helped organize speaking events and a fashion show of women’s safety equipment and apparel. Abby and her Women in Safety Excellence (W.I.S.E.) team took an immediate interest in Xena’s stylish safety footwear and showcased them in the fashion show.

Being a Young Woman Brought Many Challenges

Ferri says that because she was a young woman, people assumed she didn’t know anything. She worked hard to establish credibility, talking to workers and conducting research so she could answer their questions, all the while asking many questions of her own.

“It’s a great experience to get out onto the job site. You have to be out there and get dirty,” Ferri said. “You also have to know your audience and modify your approach to get the information you need.”

If Abby has one regret, it’s that she wishes she had been more aggressive back then and leveraged the support she had from higher-ups. For example, she says she could have been more demanding about attending safety training, particularly with supervisors and managers.

In her current role, Abby focuses on diversity and inclusion, making certain female project engineers and project managers are represented in decision making.

 

Safety and Risk Professional Mom

Abby enjoys the outdoors with her husband and 6½-year-old daughter, along with going to the park, playing soccer in the field and teaching her daughter to ride a bike. She is a lung cancer prevention advocate, serving on the board of the Lung Association of Minnesota and participating in its annual Fight for Air Climb, which involves ascending 680 stairs in a downtown Minneapolis high rise. Abby also is involved in construction safety for the local Girl Scouts chapter and volunteers at Girl Scout camp, promoting the STEM industries to young girls. Girls who someday maybe we’ll be wearing stylish steel toe footwear like Abby’s.

Passion Brought Abby to the STEM field

Her passion for the construction industry dates back to the end of high school, when Ferri worked for a construction company. Though she majored in exercise science in college, Abby returned to the construction company and got the opportunity to meet “the safety guys,” two co-workers who persuaded her to enroll in the one-year master’s degree program in Environmental Health and Safety from The University of Minnesota Duluth. As the only student interested in construction, she had her choice of jobs and accepted a position in southern California, where she worked from 2003 to 2012 before returning to Minneapolis.

“I worked for a heavy civil contractor that built water and wastewater treatment plants. I was exposed to dirt, concrete and steel on a daily basis,” Abby said. “I’m so glad that was my first job, as it gave me the best site experience.”

After that, Abby moved into safety positions in the insurance industry where she currently works.

 

The Perfect Work Boot for the Trenches

After experiencing the comfort of the Xena work boot for a few hours at the W.I.S.E. fashion show, Abby was so impressed that she immediately ordered herself a pair.

“The right cut, color and a steel toe!” she exclaimed. “The best part is that they’re non-slip; most boots have slippery bottoms. You can’t be a risk manager and slip when you’re walking or climbing.

“Typical work boots look very masculine and don’t pair well with office wear, so women in safety have to change shoes on a regular basis. I can wear the Xena work boots all day since they move seamlessly from office to job site.”

Abby says she likes the way the slight heel on her new Xena steel toe shoe, is “approachable.” And she loves that  the heel catches when she’s climbing a ladder so she doesn’t slip through the rung.

Xena’s Fashionable Safety Work Shoes Boost Confidence

Abby says she takes the “Mark Zuckerberg approach” to work attire. She wears what’s comfortable and professional-looking, and her favorite outfits include dark skinny jeans and a flowy tunic top or sweater. She thinks the Xena steel toe shoe is the perfect complement to skinnier jean, allowing her to look sharp and professional without compromising safety.

“If I want to express my personal style at work, I can’t do so with regular work boots. Xena safety shoes boost my self-confidence, as I know I look good from head to toe, ” Ferri explained. “Feeling confident is especially important for younger women who are entering the field.”

Protective Footwear That’s Convenient 

After experiencing the comfort of the Xena work boot for a few hours at the W.I.S.E. fashion show, Abby was so impressed that she immediately ordered herself a pair.

“The right cut, color AND a steel toe!” Ferri exclaims. “The best part is that they’re non-slip; most boots have slippery bottoms. You can’t be a risk manager and slip when you’re walking or climbing. Typical work boots look very masculine and don’t pair well with office wear, so women in safety have to change shoes on a regular basis. I can wear the Xena work boots all day since they move seamlessly from office to job site.” 

Ferri says she likes the slight heel on the current Xena steel toe shoe, as it’s “approachable”. More importantly, she adds, when climbing a ladder, the heel will catch so you don’t slip through the rung. 

 

Abby’s STEM Experience Shows

Currently Vice President of National Construction Practice at Hays Companies in Minneapolis, MN, Abby has more than 16 years of safety and risk experience. A self-proclaimed “construction geek,” she is passionate about developing better, more effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for women working in STEM-related fields. Abby also understands that women’s needs differ from those of their male counterparts. They have different body shapes, often more diminutive height, and the challenge of being taken seriously as a woman in male-dominated industries. She says Xena’s fashionable safety footwear addresses many of those issues, including confidence-boosting.