Student Stories


stephen, supply chain '17STEPHEN POPE

Supply Chain Management, '17

"I was a working husband and father and originally studying at the University of Utah planning to be a secondary education teacher in Spanish and couldn't get the classes I needed and work full time, so I transitioned to Weber State University because they were very flexible with my working schedule.  It was great, it was a good move!" 

Check out Stephen's full story here.


Stephen was originally a student at the University of Utah seeking to become a secondary education teacher in Spanish. Unfortunately, being a husband, father of 4 and student, it was nearly impossible for him to get the classes he needed and still maintain a job.  Because of the flexible class schedules at Weber State University, he decided to make the transition and according to him, "it was a good move!"


Like many, Stephen had a tough time pinning down a major. When he transitioned to WSU, he originally switched his major to software engineering from secondary education because of the online and distance learning options in Salt Lake City.  After starting this new path, he realized, "I love logic and algorithms and the rules behind how things work, but I realized the software engineering probably wasn't the best decision for me because it was a little too rigid; I was in this box that I did not want to be in, so I was looking for another opportunity.  I was already in management at the company I was working for, so I decided to pursue a business degree, and that's how I made it to the Goddard School." 

From the start of his education, Stephen switched four times and the last time he recalls in jest, “I thought if I told my wife I was changing again, she would divorce me.”  The final change came at Business and Industry Night hosted by the Goddard School.  He recalls going table to table, introducing himself to the employers but it seemed no one wanted to take him seriously without an emphasis, he was a business administration major.  He took his concern to professor Shane Schvaneveldt that night and Schvaneveldt said, “I can tell you love supply chain and can’t understand why you aren’t majoring in it.”  Of course, the reason was because Stephen was apprehensive to tell his wife he was changing once again.  But to his delight, his wife could see his love for the subject too and was more than supportive all the way.

In fact, Stephen graduated in the Spring of 2017 with one of the highest starting offers ever to come out of the supply chain program!  We agree, it was a good move.


Stephen was heavily involved in the Supply Chain Cats Club (SC Cats) and joined the Entrepreneurship Club in his last semester (which actually provided a small scholarship to help him pay for the last semester).  With the SC Cats, Stephen and three other teammates competed across the country, but most notably, for the first time in WSU history at Arizona State University's 3rd Annual National Undergraduate Supply Chain & Operations Case Competition. This is one of the nation's top case competitions and the Weber team finally got an invite.   Not only did they compete, the WON!  "The experience was surreal, it was great!" Although this was a grueling experience, it gave Stephen the hands-on practical knowledge, confidence and skills to apply in his job and education immediately.  He would recommend that everyone, no matter your age, your major, your time or circumstance, get involved and do it early.


The access to faculty and staff was one unique aspect of the Goddard School Stephen appreciated most.  From his first interactions with Shane Schvaneveldt and pushing him to select the right major for his strengths, to meeting one-on-one with professors like Stan Fawcett for support with interviews, resumes, and direct involvement with case competitions to career counseling with Pat Wheeler, Stephen felt like he was more than just a number at the Goddard School.  "Pat Wheeler was very useful when it comes to finding that job when you graduate, or having one prior to graduation, I know she works really hard to do that. I wasn't able to have an internship because I was working full time, but I compare the opportunity to participate in all of those case competitions as mini internships, being able to rub shoulders with people who are very influential in the supply chain world like executives from General Motors and from Starbucks coffee, it was a pretty big deal."


"If you are thinking about Goddard, do it and don't limit yourself because it is really easy to do that, I did that.  It took a very supportive wife, and professors that I felt believed in what I could do, or where I could be; not just saying 'well this is where he is today and that's it'."

"The sky is really the limit, so don't limit yourself. My education took a long time and it was hard, and sometimes I didn't want to do some of the things that I was asked to do, but I wouldn't change any of that, because I can see all of these moments that happened in this order, that when you think about it, it's amazing that I ended up where I ended up, because if one of those many things didn't happen, I wouldn't be where I am today.  So, don't change it, just embrace it!"


The supply chain program has an advisory board made up of business professionals from the community who collaborate with the program to develop job-ready graduates.  Part of this program includes personal mentorship of the students by the real-world professionals. Stephen recalls "I reached out and participated in a program comparable to speed dating, but trying to find a mentor." He talked many people at the event but didn't end up selecting a mentor at that time.  While the connections were great, they just weren't the right fit.  Still seeking a mentor, Stephen reached out to a professor who personally recommended one of the board members he thought would be a perfect fit, Aaron Volrath, a Vice President from Sun Products, now Henkel.  Aaron was eager to help him and Stephen was so impressed that this incredibly busy VP of a multinational company would take the time to be a mentor.  Their first meeting was in Aaron's office, at 6:45 pm and lasted over two hours!  This personal connection, and Stephen's drive and determination led to his current position as a VMI analyst  (vendor-managed inventory) at Henkel and upon being hired, he immediately took on a huge global project for systems, applications and products in data processing. Henkel has been so happy, they sent us this:

"Stephen has been a part of our team for two months now, and I must tell you that he is an absolute rock star. His knowledge of Supply Chain helped him to hit the ground running, and he has quickly mastered everything we have thrown at him. He has the best possible attitude amidst the challenges of our integration and takes every opportunity he can to learn the business and support the group. We couldn’t be happier to have him on our team. If you have more candidates like Stephen in your next graduating class, we will find them a career at Henkel!"