What’s your origin story?
My business journey started when I was two years old in a CVS outside of Boston. My mother was buying some medicine holding me with one arm and her wallet with the other. A brightly colored display-case-top caught my eye and I immediately grabbed a bag of M&M’s gracefully throwing it onto the counter. I then quickly proceeded to stretch out my hand and grab a dollar from my mother’s open wallet thrusting it at the cashier. At the age of two, I was already applying fundamental principles from Supply Chain.
All of my family have a business background. You might even say it is in my blood. Growing up, conversations around the dinner table focused on economic trends and material shortages rather than pop culture or the news. Pursuing a business career felt natural to me. However, I was always naturally curious. As a kid, I frequently performed experiments and tinkered with Legos which eventually led to my pursuing a career in science.
One of my family’s beliefs is that a business degree is especially useful if you can apply it to a subject. As a junior in high school I decided to study both business and chemistry. Finding a university that would let me study both Supply Chain and Chemistry together proved to be a far more difficult effort. Marquette University was one of the few schools where I could pursue a B.S. in both subjects in a reasonable amount of time. It also allowed me to study somewhere outside of Boston. I wanted to experience a new area of the country. I benefitted greatly from the unique content covered by Marquette’s Operations & Supply Chain Program.
I always knew that I would pursue an MBA, since it is a key step for career growth in the business world. Long ago, I decided that the only school I wanted to get my MBA from was Arizona State University. It was my dream school with its strong Supply Chain curriculum and focus on leadership development skills. One of my mentors at Marquette taught at ASU. If he represented the culture he described, a place for the best and most determined, then it was the only place I wanted to attend. My mentor believed that I would benefit from committing myself to the full time MBA program with its strong Supply Chain curriculum.
I have just wrapped up my first year at ASU and I am concentrating in Supply Chain, Business Analytics, and Consulting.
After I graduated from Marquette, I looked for a Supply Chain position within the Chemical Industry. During my job search, I discovered Rogers Corporation – a specialty materials company that makes polyurethane foam, silicone foam, PFTE films, and high-end base circuit board material. It is one of the best-known companies that most people have never heard of. You probably have multiple products in your home that use their materials and do not realize it.
Having a position that used both my Supply Chain and Chemistry skills was important to me; I believed that it was the best way that I could add value. I started working at Rogers Corporation after graduation and remained there until the start of my MBA. My first position was Supply Chain Technician supporting a single manufacturing site location on supplier quality, strategic sourcing, and risk mitigation. I eventually rose to Procurement Engineer running the Supply Chain Risk Mitigation program, creating global Procurement Policies, and working on Global Sourcing Projects across six different countries. Working for Rogers was a great experience that exposed me to a number of areas of supply chain in a short time. My time at Rogers helped develop my business style and my career focus. I wanted to use Supply Chain as a way to help people, whether that was through time saving, process improvements or cost savings projects.
The specific reason you went to get your MBA. What was your goal?
Returning to get my MBA and to invest in myself was a difficult decision. After all, it requires a two-year hiatus from working. After some soul searching, I realized that my career path at Roger’s did not fully address my long-term goals. Although Roger’s gave me valuable experience exploring new corporate categories and involvement in capital equipment projects, I wanted to focus on my managerial and development skills. I even had the opportunity to travel in Europe and Asia for process innovation projects, tremendous opportunities for learning and growth. I wanted to gain the managerial skills that would allow me to provide others the chance to succeed and let me lead projects that with high visibility. I have been lucky enough to have great mentors and role models and so I strive to also be a mentor. I viewed getting an MBA from ASU as the best way to accomplish this goal.
Why did you choose the internship position that you did?
I interviewed with many different companies for my internship. Ultimately, I chose Johnson & Johnson because of the company’s Credo culture.
During the interview process one of my interviewers recounted a story that resonated with me. A supplier had an issue with invoicing where the company had not invoiced Johnson & Johnson for an entire year. When the supplier brought up the issue, Johnson & Johnson did not automatically deny the request for payment. The employees at Johnson & Johnson discussed the matter and paid the supplier. After hearing that story, I thought that this was the type of culture I wanted to be a part of. I could think of a number of companies that would not have honored the contractual agreement and refused payment. Making money is important for a business, but I think being a good human being is just as important.
Another reason that I chose Johnson & Johnson was that the internship program focused on real projects, not busy work. I wanted a position that would help me grow my supply chain skills. When I first sat down with my manager and discussed the challenges of the project, she jokingly said if the task was easy, we would have already done the project. Internship projects address difficult challenges their business is experiencing. Knowing that if I had not been assigned my project, someone else from my department would have been, gave me a feeling of being part of the team from the start of my internship.
Johnson & Johnson also represented a new industry for me. My focus had always been on the chemical industry and the healthcare industry was a new field for me. I wanted to see if I could broaden my focus and whether I could transfer my skills and learn about a new industry.
What do you hope to learn during your time in that position?
I want to learn what supply chain and procurement look like at Johnson & Johnson. I also want to learn how I can create stronger connections between ASU and J&J.
What are your goals as result of the internship?
My top priority for my internship is to make a visible impact before I leave. An internship is often a first step in a long career. Both the company and I are interviewing each other to see if we fit well together. Johnson & Johnson saw value in my skill set and they believed I would be able to contribute. My manager fought to have me for her project and I want to uphold her faith in me. I want to live up to the high expectations that accompany a high-profile internship position.
My second priority for my internship is to learn. I view learning as a critical part of anything I do. From my internship at J&J, I want to learn as much as possible about how a large organization functions and how Supply Chain fits into the business model.
What is your strategy on achieving those goals?
I am a strong believer in networking maps. WWW.Internmasters.com had a great article about using networking maps that I highly recommend. One of the first things I did on my first day of my internship was to create a set of networking maps for myself. These maps included project stakeholders, members of my department, W.P. Carey Alumni, and employees who worked in other Supply Chain areas I was interested in. Part of the PLDP program is having a buddy mentor to help you through your internship. In addition to my own networking maps, my buddy provided me two different maps based on my project and my interests.
A communication plan is another key part of my strategy. For cross-functional projects with many stakeholders, I believe communication is the key to the success or failure of the project. I created a stakeholder map with the associated timing for communication. I am also working on a succession or hand-off plan for when I leave my internship.
What does an ideal internship look like for you?
I have had the opportunity to hold eight internships over my schooling history. I learned great lessons in all of them but there are some internships that stand out as being more outstanding than others. One of the key ingredients for an outstanding internship is a meaningful project. Interns may be temporary workers, but they are individuals with their own goals. The best of these companies treated the internship as a partnership. I think it is important to earn respect in everything that you work on. Performing the odd menial job is necessary but cannot be the focus of an entire internship.
An ideal internship begins before you arrive with the recruitment effort. The recruiter must be honest. The passion and descriptions that recruiters market these positions are important for interns. Interns don’t want to be surprised at all by the internship. I think it is important that companies think on how to incorporate an intern into their team culture but to also reflect on the experience the intern will gain. Companies should set expectations; help an intern achieve his/her goals; and hold and intern accountable for his/her work while keeping in mind that an intern is still learning.
What elements are the most important?
Make sure your staff is prepared to work with the interns. No intern wants to meet with an important stakeholder and hear “I am really not sure why I even need to meet with you.”
Remember an intern is a part of your team and is looking at your organization as a learning experience. Make sure they are seeing the best that you have got.
What would a company need to offer to attract you to work there?
Meaningful work, supportive environment, a fair wage, and mutual respect.