U of M alumna brings Land O'Lakes to the classroom
“I think the partnership between the U of M and Land O’Lakes helps us both keep our fingers on the pulse of what the new generation needs in a workplace and how they need to prepare to enter the workforce.”
Kristen McConnell, a senior manager of supply chain planning at Land O’Lakes, stays involved with her alma mater as a Leaders in the Classroom guest speaker, as well as a Women Invested in Leadership and Learning (W.I.L.L.) mentor. Here, the two-time Carlson School graduate speaks about her experiences and why she was eager to head back to the U.
How does it feel to be back in the classroom as a guest speaker?
It’s great to be back and feel all the energy of a bustling campus. As an undergraduate student, my favorite classes welcomed industry guest speakers, and I loved how they brought their theoretical material to life in such a tangible way. I knew I wanted to do the same one day for future students.
I hope to bring real-world context for everything students are learning so they understand the interconnectedness of a highly functioning organization. I want them to know that supply chain isn’t just spreadsheets, it’s about orchestrating the movement of products in a way that is cost-effective, and ultimately bringing people together from all different areas to ensure a phenomenal customer experience.
As a W.I.L.L. mentor, how do you think you contributed to the success of the female student-athletes you mentored?
I hope I gave the students a different perspective on why candid communication and crucial conversations are so important, even when they feel awkward. I get great satisfaction from career mentoring and having a positive influence on young women.
What attracted you to Land O’Lakes?
I’ve been with Land O’Lakes for 11 years, which for a millennial like myself is a long time to stay at one company.
I really appreciate that Land O’Lakes validates all aspects of the career spectrum. For instance, I’m an employee who likes to try new things in different areas, and here, I am encouraged to do so. But we also appreciate the people who want to stay in one area and grow. A company needs both types of employees to be successful long-term. As a speaker and mentor, I hope to convey that Land O’Lakes is innovative, technology-focused, and a place where you can make a difference in your community and the world.
Photo: Kristen McConnell