Originally from Auburn, New York, about an hour west of the Syracuse campus, it was almost a foregone conclusion that I would bleed orange. But it wasn’t until after I began my college career at SU that I decided to wear the orange and blue. It was not just a symbol of my university sports fandom; it was also a show of allegiance to my alma mater.
I was not your typical Whitman student. I didn’t live on South Campus my freshman year, I didn’t take my core classes my sophomore year, and I had no idea the true value of securing a Whitman team room (the tech-friendly and collaborative workspaces on the second and third floors).
I was a transfer: old enough to know better, but new enough to not know it all. Let’s face it, it’s not like I was wearing a Georgetown jersey in the Dome, but I began my Whitman journey a bit out of place. I had much to learn and only two years to learn it. Although I was not your standard incoming student, I shared the same determination to succeed in the world of business and to become part of something bigger than myself. It was this drive that made me fit right in among my fellow classmates.
Early on, I solidified my passion for supply chain management (SCM) through Professor Patrick Penfield. Professor Penfield served not only as my teacher for several of SCM courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level but also as a mentor and industry connection. I would frequent his office hours for course help but also for resume pointers, career advice and, of course, some sports talk. Professor Penfield was an integral part of my positive experience at Whitman.
Whitman prepared me exceptionally well for my first job in outside sales with United Technologies Corporation (UTC). Closing deals, developing contract language, lobbying new clients and leveraging relationships with existing ones proved to be no easy task. Case competitions, consulting for local companies and near-daily presentations at Whitman helped me quickly adapt to the fast-paced and results-focused world of sales.
I used the tools I gained from Whitman to become successful in sales with UTC, but I still desired a role in which I could fully utilize my supply chain degree. I tapped into my alumni network to help land my current role at IBM. I am in a three-year rotational program focused on leadership, professional development and cross-functional training within IBM’s Global Supply Chain. With insight and review from Kevin Cleary, Syracuse class of 1979, I determined that IBM and North Carolina would be the right fit for me. Whitman instilled in me an ultra-competitive nature and a continued desire to expand my network, both of which I have found critical in traversing a Fortune 500 company.
My experience at Whitman extends outside of the classroom from listening to guest speakers, attending national business conferences, being a part of the Entrepreneurship Club and, most importantly, career fairs that resulted in my first internship and first job offer. All of these opportunities shaped me as a Whitman student, which, in turn, has shaped me as a young professional.
At the time, late nights in the Whitman team rooms with fellow classmates seemed to go on forever. Only the perfect slide deck would ease our internal expectations and release us to Chuck’s, a favorite among students and alumni. Now, I would take those late Whitman nights back in a heartbeat. Whitman made me who I am today. I bleed orange and I am a proud graduate of the Whitman School of Management.