Fennell outside her office at the shipping center in the Angell Building on MSU's Campus/ Photo by Lisa Twenter
Name: Susan Fennell
Currently Employed with: Michigan State University – University Services Logistics
Current Title: Logistics Operations Supervisor
Like many little girls Susan Fennell’s childhood dream was to help people, or puppies or to design the next skyscraper. And as fate would have it she does a little of all of these things but in a very unique way.
“Logistics, put simply, is the ordering, the purchase, the delivery and receipt of goods and services,” Fennell explains. Fennell is the Logistics Operations Supervisor at Michigan State University where she works to make sure everything that comes in or goes from the university gets to the right place.
Although she adores her job now, starting out she never knew she’d end up here. From her first real job at a drive through blue jeans store to pursuing her college degree in business administration, Fennell knew business is what made the world go round and that she needed to find a way to be part of it.
“My first real job was at a drive through blue jeans store and it taught me about trust and integrity. I would work by myself and it taught me just how much people depend on you and I never wanted to let that person down because this was their business,” Fennell said.
Those skills are ones Fennell carried with her to start her career with a logistics and motor freight company. She recalls the intense training process to start work in this industry.
“I was really interested in automotive aftermarket companies. I was interested in sales and it gave me a great opportunity to work with them,” Fennell said. “It was an intense training process. I had to learn industry and company regulations, how to ride in trucks, the whole thing from the ground up. I’d say it took me two years to really learn all the basics.”
After dealing with a long commute for a few years Fennell needed to find a better work life balance, so when a friend tipped her off to an opening at MSU she took a shot and landed the job. Fennell loves that her job always keeps her on her toes.
“Being responsible for the university’s receiving, shipping, distribution, compliance and my guys keeps me busy. We inspect every shipment that comes across the dock, we file damages claims and are accountable for large value items,” she said.“We are the central point for everything, and I think there are few people who can do that.”
Fennell loves being on the go and says her staff is what makes her job so much fun. As a woman in a male-dominated field you may think Fennell has something to prove, but it is the exact opposite. She respects her workers and her workers respect her. In fact, Fennell thinks working with men actually makes her life a little easier.
“It’s easy to work with men. There is no drama, it is black and white, they say it like it is, which allows me to do the same,” Fennel said. “That’s what makes working with them great, there is no crying in freight. I have a great group of guys. They motivate me and teach me.”
The ability to learn from her job continuously drives Fennell to do better. Working for MSU, a leader in logistics and supply chain management makes Fennell proud to come to work every day and motivates her to find new ways to make the industry stronger.
“MSU is a leader in logistics. We are unique in that we are the only Big10 school to provide a centralized shipping, receiving and distribution model. In line with MSU’s objectives, we’re about enhancing the student experience, expanding international outreach and research, providing stewardship and mitigating risk,” she said. “Both OSU and CMU are looking to us to study our processes for their own implementation. We’re innovative and we’re a leader in university logistics.”
Fennell received the coveted, employee-nominated Quality Leader Award and is the first female service center manger to succeed and open the door of opportunity to other women in that capacity, proving that being a women in man’s world doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It took a lot of dedication to get to where she is today, but she knows that it was taking a few risks that made all the difference.
“I would tell other women to step out of the comfort zone and dive in. Don’t limit yourself based on stereotypes, otherwise opportunities are missed,” Fennell said.
Tags: Careers for Consideration, Logistics, michigan state university
Ami Iceman-Hauter is the Brand Manager at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. Iceman is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelors degree in creative advertising.