The first two foundational elements are to be passionate about the work you do and have the courage to pursue your dreams. Whitman had an excellent introductory class, SOM122, which exposed students to of all the available majors. I gravitated towards finance. As I progressed through my coursework, I recognized that, while many of my peers were heading toward banking, I identified a passion to work on tangible products that consumers use every day. My professors supported my interests and helped me identify potential employers. This ultimately led me to a finance role at Procter & Gamble working on the Cover Girl and Max Factor cosmetic brands. I very quickly learned the world of acronyms and nail polish, gaining excellent experience at one of the largest consumer packaged goods companies in the world.
While I found my work interesting and challenging, I discovered finance wasn’t quite the right long-term fit, and I missed involvement in the world of athletics after 15 years of competitive swimming. Drawing upon my confidence from SU, I was inspired to attend graduate school and earned an M.S. in sport management from UMass Amherst.
I spent the next five years at New Balance combining my interests in business and sports, while fostering a love of marketing along the way. While there, I was involved in large scale sponsorships, traveled globally for a role developing international footwear and worked closely with key accounts. This marketing passion subsequently took me to Life is Good and now Keurig Green Mountain, where I get to work on products that consumers are as enthusiastic about as I am (mmm…coffee).
The other two major skills I learned at Syracuse were teamwork and creativity. My professors were diligent about integrating team projects into the curriculum. At that time, it was challenging to learn to work in a new way, I’m extremely grateful for all the requirements we had to deliver a strong finished product as a cohesive team. I also learned there isn’t always a linear answer to everything–real life brings unique challenges that require creative solutions.
At Keurig Green Mountain, I had the opportunity to lead a team in updating one of their hot cocoa K-Cup® pod formulas. The project took about a year from start to finish and, over that time, the team members expanded their skill sets beyond their own functional expertise, truly working in a boundary less environment. The project experienced numerous challenges along the way, and because we were designing a cocoa for a machine that was designed to brew coffee, we had to creatively brainstorm new approaches. The same formula you use to make hot cocoa out of a sachet is not the same formula as you use to brew a K-Cup® pod–but it has to taste the same. Throughout the project, the team persevered through adversity, adjusted the plan as necessary and maintained a positive attitude. As a result, we ended up becoming a high-performing work team and, ultimately, delivered a delicious, significantly improved hot cocoa.
SU continues to give to me in both direct and indirect ways, and I will be forever grateful for the powerful foundation it provided me as an undergraduate. Thank you and GO ORANGE!