Bill Fenner G’07 had a natural talent for sales, but it wasn’t until he embarked on the Saint Rose MBA program that he began to uncover a growing interest in the field. Now, with more than a decade of corporate experience at retail giants like Russell Stover Candies and Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Fenner continues to build his sales career as an associate manager at The Kraft Heinz Company. We caught up with Fenner in this Q&A.
What is a typical day like for you?
In my current role, there really is no “typical” day. Generally, Mondays are devoted to gap-solving opportunities for my team and participation on corporate conference calls. However, the remaining days of the week can include activities such as working with my team in the field, training new hires, conducting team meetings, or reviewing quarterly appraisals with my team members. I just completed a stint overseeing an open territory adjacent to mine and managing an additional seven people for the last four months (in addition to my current eight team members) while the company was working to backfill the open territory.
How did you find your career path, and how did your Saint Rose experience help?
I became interested in a retail management career while an undergrad. My first retail experience was working in a home décor store as a sales associate/part-time manager while attending Saint Rose’s graduate MBA program. The MBA experience solidified my interest in this realm, and pushed me out of my comfort zone by offering a broad spectrum of graduate classes, both quantitative and qualitative. I found the program to be both challenging and rewarding, yet comforting in that all of my professors offered me their full support in my studies and in pursuing my career objectives.
What do you do for fun?
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my two young daughters, Lily and Claire. I volunteer at local soup kitchens and donate to several charities. Recreationally, I enjoy hiking in the Berkshire and Catskill mountains in the summer and traveling across the U.S. and overseas. In addition, I play golf, tennis, and basketball. Attending the many local museums with my family is something I make time for on a regular basis.
What did (or do) you like the most about Saint Rose?
My favorite part of the Saint Rose experience was the availability of my professors and the smaller classroom sizes, which allowed for more direct interactions both inside and outside of class. I truly felt the personal touch while attending Saint Rose, and that my professors genuinely cared about my well-being and success. Saint Rose’s academic environment played a significant role in my career as I invoke the same key learnings as a people manager by always providing my teams with the leadership, coaching, and attention they deserve to assist them in their career development. Saint Rose laid that foundation for me and paved the way for me to be where I am today.
Why should alums keep engaged with their alma mater?
It is important to never forget where you came from and give back to those who sacrificed for you. As an alum, I believe every graduate has a duty and obligation to invest in their alma mater and assist the current students in their career decision-making so they can learn from your experiences. It also enables them to begin creating their own personal network, which can help in landing their first position out of college and building potential long-lasting relationships with individuals they are connected to through Saint Rose.