5 Questions with Laurie Burgess
Monday, August 13, 2012
"Women can be change agents in our industry."
A recent graduate of Simmons College School of Management, Laurie Burgess participated in the NEW Horizons Mentoring Program, which led to internships with The Greater Boston Food Bank, CVS/Caremark and Dunkin’ Brands. She has maintained her connection with NEW New England mentors while launching her career. Burgess volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Greater Boston Food Bank, Waypoint Adventure and Habitat for Humanity.
How did the Network’s college outreach initiative help you clarify and pursue your career goals?
The NEW Horizons Mentoring Program introduced me to the exciting world of consumer goods. I have gained networking opportunities and invaluable guidance from many amazing NEW members. The Network’s events increased my confidence as a businesswoman and [encouraged me to] aim high for my goals. As a mentee, I was able to get a feel for the industry and try out positions through internships. My mentor and contacts were very supportive, listening to my thoughts about my strengths and weaknesses, challenges and accomplishments and giving me advice on how to be successful.
Tell us about your relationship with your NEW mentor, Board member emeritus Bobbie O’Hare.
I had the pleasure of being mentored by the phenomenal Bobbie O’Hare for the launch of the NEW Horizons program. She listened to my interests to understand my goals. She introduced me to [industry leaders] and advocated for me at networking events. Once she asked me to stand up at a NEW networking event in front of hundreds of people so that she could say that I was looking for a job. She continues to be my role model and biggest supporter. She has also helped me realize that I want to be a mentor to other women. I’m now a Big Sister to a young girl in need. I hope to instill in her the confidence Bobbie helped instilled in me. NEW members Janine Dempsey, Cathy Doyle, Lisa Foster, Pam O’Neil and Sandy Pietraszek have also played roles in helping shape my career. They introduced me to their contacts, gave me advice before interviews and kept me motivated during my job search. They were always thoughtful, including me in the NEW events. Also, NEW member Gia Cyrier and I worked on a creative brief to highlight the benefits of the NEW Horizons Program to other college students. I know I can always contact Gia with good or bad news and she will celebrate with me or help me work through it.
What sparked your interest in a career in the consumer products/retail industry?
Because the product is tangible. In my experience in sales for a financial company, I could not relate to the product I was selling. Consumer goods companies have an authenticity about them. I love that when you work for a consumer goods company, you can connect to your everyday work. That makes everything you do more meaningful and concrete.
As someone starting a career, what opportunities do you see for women in the industry?
Women can be change agents in the industry. Our ability to forge relationships and voice our values really make us valuable.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to be helping a consumer goods company -- or multiple companies -- develop their corporate social responsibility programs, including environmental sustainability, community involvement, governance, transparency and other initiatives. I particularly like how consumer goods organizations have a unique opportunity to be a good citizen through product-related campaigns to support a cause, sustainable supply chain and philanthropy, as well as their employee volunteerism and engagement. My goal is to help as many companies as possible strengthen their business while doing good for society.