IMSE alumna sprints toward her goals
In between a busy life of coursework and studies on her way to earning a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at the University of Missouri in 1985, Christine Pierson was a runner, lettering in track and field. She still runs for fitness and pleasure, and one could argue her considerable accomplishments after graduation also make Pierson a sprinter.
Pierson, who currently serves as executive vice president and head of the consumer division at UMB Financial Corporation, started her career at AT&T. In19 years, she worked her way up the communication giant’s corporate ladder to become sales vice president for the company’s business services in global accounts before taking a position with Bayer Healthcare, LLC in its Animal Health division.
At Bayer, Pierson worked in sales and commercial operations, achieving volume and growth objectives as well as maximizing revenue profits of $500 million and more than half the worldwide business.
Along the way, Pierson acquired an MBA from Rockhurst University and was honored with the Women Executives of Kansas City (WeKC) Ingram’s Top Executive award in 2008, named Distinguished Marketing Executive of the Year in 2009 and in 2010 was recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal with a Top 25 Women Who Mean Business award.
“I enjoy math and have always been a numbers geek,” Pierson said. “My teachers encouraged me, and I headed down that path. As I dug into the different engineering disciplines, I found that IMSE had a little more business flair, a little more people flair. It’s been great — absolutely phenomenal for me.
“I think [industrial engineering] is a mystery to a lot of people, but it offers such a broad set of [career] options. And it has so many human factor elements — like the work that is done in healthcare — on the quality side of things and in innovation.”
In recognition of her accomplishments, Pierson was inducted into MU Engineering’s Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department Hall of Fame in 2010. The group works behind the scenes in support of the department’s mission and its students.
Pierson has taken a leadership role in the group’s fundraising efforts as a member of its Development Committee to provide scholarships and assistance for other departmental initiatives, a role for which she is eminently qualified. Her success as a fundraiser is every bit as impressive as her career accomplishments.
As fundraising chairman for the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation advisory, Pierson played a key role in a successful $20 million campaign to build the Great Beginning Early Childhood Center.
She also led an effort to establish a $10,000 “Spirit of ’81” scholarship endowment at her hometown high school in Kirksville, Mo.
“My dad is a teacher. My sister was a teacher and is now a principal. I am philanthropic toward education. It’s about leaving the world a better place, so I try to help add value in any way I can,” Pierson said.
The IMSE Hall of Fame’s Development Committee recently sent out a survey to the department’s alumni.
“We asked them if there were things they could get passionate about backing. A lot of people were interested in helping with career landings, offering internships and co-ops, jobs after graduation and financial support to varying degrees,” Pierson said.
The group has just mailed a letter to IMSE’s alumni base telling them about the Hall of Fame’s efforts and the sharing results of the survey asking them if and how they would like to get involved.
Besides being an alumna, Pierson has a couple of additional ties to IMSE and to the College of Engineering.
Her husband Steve graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1985. He currently serves on that department’s industrial advisory board.
IMSE Professor Jim Noble was a member of Pierson’s high school graduating class, and he also serves as academic advisor to her son, Andrew, who is a sophomore in the department.
When not working to help her alma mater achieve its goals, Pierson is working hard to help UMB meet theirs. She is passionate about the work she is doing and greatly enjoys her job.
She said that one of her career goals is to serve on a public or private corporate board and that UMB Financial’s CEO is very supportive of such aspirations.
“[UMB] offers a very people-oriented experience. They walk the talk here,” Pierson said.
“I feel blessed.”