Q & A with an IDM Grad

Nancy Baird Faust is a 1985 CBA graduate with a degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Industrial Distribution Management. She has been employed by Kimberly-Clark for nine years. Faust is the mother of three and lives in Wisconsin.

What are your responsibilities at Kimberly-Clark?
I am in the process of moving into a new job. My team and I are responsible for the logistics support for Scott Towels, Cottonelle bath tissue, and new family care consumer products. We handle materials management; demand forecast analysis; production schedules; and distribution of materials and finished products from warehouses to customer locations.

We balance lean inventories while maintaining the industry's highest standards for customer service. We are involved in planning day-to-day operations as well as mid-range and long-term capacity and capability plans.

How has the IDM program helped you prepare you for your job at KC?
The best classes I took were those that helped me learn from actual business case examples. Classes that combine work experiences as well as the theory and concepts helped me remember the information when challenged with work issues in my job. I have to say, though, that even now, nearly twenty years after leaving U of I, I am still building on the basic classes I took at college. Some of those classes just keep coming back over and over again. If you don't understand them now, you will eventually, because they are so vital to your role in a business. Examples that come to mind are: statistics (and understanding and measuring variability in your work processes), finance and application of costs to your analyses, and organizational management classes that seek to explain how people are motivated and how teams and individuals interact.

I think involvement in extracurricular activities or work provided learning experiences that were a critical difference in my career. Think of it as extra practice. Students who are learning how to lead discussions, invite new ideas and perspectives, facilitate problem solving and organize projects are way ahead of students who haven't begun to hone those skills. It is easier to make mistakes and learn from them in college versus when you are new on the job!

The student organizations on campus also provide plenty of opportunities to take a lead in developing action plans and implementing them. I'd encourage students to get involved!

In what ways have you and your company maintained ties with the IDM program?
Kimberly-Clark Corporation values the quality of education at and graduates from the University of Illinois. We recruit from several disciplines including engineering, computer science, human resources, and logistics. Logistics/ supply chain needs at K-C overlap with the curriculum offered in the IDM program. K-C seeks bright, enthusiastic, competitive candidates who demonstrate initiative and solid academic and participative performance. The IDM program identifies strong candidates with these attributes for the program and further develops students throughout the final two-year program.

We have offered internships to students, hired full-time staff, participated in class lectures, and sponsored the 2002 IDM case competition. Kimberly-Clark also has provided scholarship funds for students in the IDM program.

What recommendations do you have for current students as they prepare to enter the workforce?
I have three ideas to share with the students.

First, be prepared to continue learning. If you set a goal to learn each year through workshops, seminars, reading books, or taking classes, you will stay on top of the most current ideas and you will train yourself to stay open to change. Learning keeps you competitive in the workplace.

Secondly, be honest about yourself and don't try to be everything to everyone. By acknowledging what you do well, what you enjoy, and where you struggle, you can select jobs that leverage your strengths and de-emphasize your weaknesses. It makes for a much more successful journey in your career. For example, my first job out of school I was a saleswoman for grinding wheels used in industry. I had visions of how great I was going to be at abrasive sales. My first training class involved lots of fire and sparks while grinding on metal. Suddenly, it hit home that this was going to be like taking shop class... not exactly what I had envisioned.

Finally, I encourage you to volunteer in your community and at work. The more you can get involved, the more you will learn about yourself and other people. Understanding people is the key to leading a team. Understanding people is vital to understanding your customers. Volunteering also puts your work into perspective relative to your whole life and it offers opportunities to network with others.

CBA Communications thanks William Qualls, Director of the IDM Program, for permission to use this interview, originally published in the Spring 2002 issue of IDM Digest. Volume 5, Issue 2.