IMSE Hall of Fame Spotlight: IMSE Alumni as Business Leaders

July 20, 2021

Four Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering alumni have been inducted into the IMSE Hall of Fame for their significant career contributions to the business sector. Dennis Jaeger and Michael Salerno are the most recent inductees, having been honored in 2020. Other alumni recognized for successes in business include Ken Cooper and Christine Pierson.

The IMSE Hall of Fame was established in 2008 to honor distinguished industrial engineering graduates who have made an impact within their field and to recognize those who have supported the IMSE Department.

Portrait: Dennis Jaeger

Dennis Jaeger

Dennis Jaeger BS IE ’74, Inducted 2020

Jaeger began his 36-year career with Hallmark Cards as an industrial engineer and then as the industrial engineering manager for distribution. While in this role, he

obtained his MBA from Rockhurst University. From there, he moved on to broader managerial positions in product inventory and retail logistics. He then took on strategic planning and eventually became Vice President – Business Manager for, the e-commerce and internet marketing side of the company that he established with his team in the early 2000s.

Jaeger credits his experience at Mizzou as a primary contributor to his rewarding career and professional life. Though he transitioned away from traditional industrial engineering, the approach to problem-solving he learned at Mizzou Engineering served him well in his managerial roles and throughout his career.

Portrait: Michael Salerno

Michael Salerno

Michael Salerno BS IE ’78, Inducted 2020

Upon graduating from Mizzou, Salerno worked as a Cost Estimator for McDonnell Douglas, a major company in the Aerospace and Defense sector that has since merged with Boeing. As he progressed in his career, he entered management roles and obtained his MBA from Washington University. After the merger, Salerno became CFO with The Boeing Company.

Throughout his career, his background in Industrial Engineering has been foundational to his thinking and problem-solving skills. He believes that this background positioned him perfectly in the early stages of his career, as he was able to develop a broad overview of the technical aspects of the business and use that to his advantage in pursuing a career on the management and finance side of the company. 

Portrait: Ken Cooper

Ken Cooper

Ken Cooper, BS IE ’70, MS IE ’71, Inducted 2017 

Born into a family of engineers, Cooper knew he wanted to pursue engineering from an early age and says his choice to pursue Industrial Engineering at Mizzou was perfect. While at the University, he earned a scholarship walking on to the Track team. The IMSE department provided him the support of working around his sports schedule and the flexibility to take courses in economics.

After graduating with his master’s, he began working at IBM, where he sold mainframe computers for five years. Since leaving IBM, he started his own consulting business as a speaker and trainer while teaching classes at night. As a consultant, he gave more than 2,500 speeches and seminars and appeared in more than 300 video trainings.

In 2002, he co-founded, an online training start-up, which he sold in 2012. After that, he wrote more than 1,110 video training scripts for Throughout his career, he has written business and trade books, and wrote for industry magazines. He attributes his time at Mizzou IMSE for the foundations of his successful career.

Portrait: Christine Pierson

Christine Pierson

Christine Pierson BS IE ’85, Inducted 2010

Pierson began her career at AT&T Bell laboratories as an Industrial and Systems Engineer. She was selected for AT&T’s leadership development program and promoted to roles of increased scope and responsibility, including Sales Vice President for Global Business Services and Director of Business Development for the Solutions group.

After AT&T, she joined Bayer Healthcare Corporation’s Animal Health Division as the VP of Sales. She then served as the Executive Vice President of UMB Financial Corporation’s Consumer Services Division. Currently, she is the President and CEO of Tresl, a FinTech business in consumer lending.

In addition to her industrial engineering education from Mizzou, Pierson has an MBA from Rockhurst University and is a graduate of the Stonier School of Banking at Wharton. She earned the 2013 National Association of Corporate Director Fellows, was named in 2014 among the American Bankers Most Powerful Women in Banking and selected by the Financial Tech Report in 2021 as one of the Top 50 Technology CEOs.