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Leading the Pack: Kaitlyn Pennington

Kaitlyn Pennington is a 2017 Jenkins MBA alumna. Pennington is now a senior analyst for supply chain insights at the American Red Cross. She says that, one key element to her student experience was the opportunity to complete multiple practicum projects for the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative’s (SCRC) partner companies.

In the following Q & A, Pennington goes into more detail about why she decided earning an MBA was the right fit for her, advice for perspective students, and the highlights of her student experience during her time at NC State — including how her degree helped prepare her for for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: Why did you choose the NC State Jenkins MBA program for your graduate education?

A: I chose the NC State Jenkins MBA program primarily because of the opportunities that the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative afforded me. As a Supply Chain Fellow, I had the opportunity to work for a partner company half-time while I was working my way through the full-time MBA program. I entered the MBA program directly from my undergraduate studies, so getting this real-world experience while getting my MBA was really important to me.  I also participated in multiple practicum projects that exposed me to real business issues and helped me to grow the skills that I needed to help solve those issues.  NC State provided me with opportunities to take what I learned in the classroom and actually apply it in the real world.

Q: How did your experience in the program contribute to your professional achievements and successes?

A: The Jenkins program helped me to learn how to turn data into information that tells a meaningful story to stakeholders. Being able to speak the language of the business is a huge asset.

Q: What advice would you give for prospective and current students who are interested in your industry/profession?

A: I would encourage students to seek out conversations with professionals that they can learn from, even if the conversation just revolves around the professional’s role and any interesting projects that they are involved in. Learning about other’s experiences really enhances your understanding of the profession and the opportunities that might exist for you as you look for a career.

Q: What do you believe is your most interesting accomplishment since graduation?

A: One of my most interesting accomplishments at the Red Cross is my role in the implementation and management of a spend analytics platform that enables us to better understand exactly what we are spending, who we are spending it with, and what we are spending it on. The tool uses artificial intelligence to categorize our spend data and shows a comprehensive view of spend within our organization. I work with our Category Leaders to use the tool to identify P&L improvement opportunities and build more meaningful category strategies.

Q: Could you give a brief explanation of your current line of work and how COVID-19 has impacted it? As well as how the MBA has helped prepare you navigate during these times?

A: I currently work as a Market Insights Analyst in Supply Management at the American Red Cross. I use data analytics and market intelligence to help the Business make more informed decisions, especially as those decisions relate to our supplier partners. Like many other healthcare organizations, our Supply Management team has been focused on ensuring that there is continuity of supply for PPE and other items that are critical to the Business during the COVID-19 pandemic. My team has been integral in the creation of a Continuity of Supply Dashboard that helps us to keep our stakeholders informed of current supply availability and actions being taken to ensure continuity of supply. My education surrounding strategic sourcing and inventory management at NC State prepared me to contribute to sourcing and inventory strategies for PPE and critical items that are needed to fulfill our mission.