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Distilling Opportunity

August 1, 2022 Erica Hulse
Lauren Padussis, student

The opportunity for flexibility and strong familial ties to the University of Louisville drew fall 2021 Online MBA cohort president Lauren Padussis Lydon to UofL. “My plan was always to get my MBA…and obviously the pandemic shifted a lot of things for people,” shares Lauren. “With UofL opening up the online program…it was really a quick decision for me. I’m working from home. I have some free time. This would be a great opportunity.” She notes that she had also wanted to attend UofL because “my husband went to UofL and graduated from the College of Business, so I do cheer for the Cards.”

Lauren is currently employed at Brown-Forman as the Global New Product Manager for Jack Daniels. However, she is not a native of central Kentucky. “I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and I went to an all-girls high school, [which] was very committed to diversity and inclusion, sustainability, STEM fields, and women in leadership.” Laruen credits her secondary school experience with providing her the support needed to pursue her undergraduate degree program in a traditionally male-dominated STEM field, noting that she “had an advisor who was also a math teacher…she pushed me to take as many math courses as I possibly could.” Recognizing her talent in this area, Lauren shares that “she [said] ‘you would be a really great engineer.’”

Lauren made the decision to pursue her undergraduate degree in Packaging Science at Clemson University, and “as part of the packaging curriculum, you’re required to do a six-month co-op to graduate. So, I did my co-op at Brown-Forman.” Sharing that “I didn’t really know anything about Brown-Forman” at that time and had only planned to be there for her co-op requirement, She found that upon graduation, “a couple of engineer positions came open and I was hired for one. So, I went into my full-time Packaging Engineer position fresh out of college and was a packaging engineer for five years.” A volunteer project manager, Lauren then transitioned to the global design team, which allowed her to develop the skills necessary to take on her current role.

With a commitment to building a positive work culture through continued diversity and inclusion efforts, along with a desire to provide employee flexibility and growth, it is no surprise that Lauren chose her role at Brown-Forman and is passionate about not only her role but how the company supports employees as both workers and individuals. Lauren noted, “I really appreciate the culture within the organization…our values are respect, integrity, trust, teamwork, and excellence. We talk a lot about our values…not because we want to put them on a piece of paper or a corporate report. People really live out those values every day.”

Lauren is already applying valuable insights to her work through the content she is learning in each course at UofL. Noting that “I’m much more conscious about who my stakeholders are and…about how I communicate,” Lauren explains that not only does she believe she has become a stronger communicator, but she has found a greater understanding of business concepts which benefits her on a day-to-day basis. “I was in a meeting yesterday, and…we started talking about inventory turns. I’m taking [my] Operations, Design, and Analysis [course], and we just went through a whole module on inventory. I feel like the things I’m learning right now, they’re not giving me a seat at the table, but they are giving me a…better understanding of what is going on. If I didn’t have that foundational knowledge, I don’t think I would quite grasp some of the concepts in my new role.”

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