2017 Best & Brightest: Karen Burlingame, Penn State University (Smeal)

Karen Burlingame

Penn State University (Schreyer Honors College and Smeal College of Business)

“Don’t let my strong work ethic and motivation fool you; I’m really good at sleeping.”

Fun fact about yourself: I love music, but I have no musical talent!

Hometown: Lansdale, PA

High School: North Penn High School


Major: Supply Chain & Information Systems

Favorite Business Courses: Demand Fulfillment (SCM 404), Strategic Design and Management of Supply Chains (SCM 450), and Entrepreneurial Leadership (ENGR 310)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Leadership & Community Involvement

  • Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals- President
  • Sapphire Leadership Academic Program- Leadership Development Chair
  • Penn State Supply Chain Department- SCM 404 Teaching Assistant
  • Penn State Dance Marathon Committee
  • Newman Catholic and the Navigators

Awards & Honors

  • Gene Richter Scholar, Institute for Supply Management
  • L. Waters Scholar, APICS
  • David R. Parsley Scholarship, NRAEF
  • Traffic Club of Pittsburgh Scholarship
  • Inbound Logistics and the American Society of Transportation & Logistics Award
  • Terry L. Priest Scholarship, Denver Foundation
  • Evan Pugh Scholar Award
  • British Petroleum Scholar
  • GEICO Achievement Award
  • Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations & Management
  • Schreyer Honors College Gateway Scholarship Recipient
  • CSCMP Global Conference Scholar
  • Sapphire Scholarship Recipient
  • President Sparks Award
  • President’s Freshman Award
  • Penn State Provosts Award
  • Dean’s List all semesters

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Johnson & Johnson (Supply Planning Co-Op- Fort Washington, PA)
  • Johnson & Johnson (Manufacturing Quality Systems Intern- Jacksonville, FL)
  • Merck Pharmaceuticals (Resource Planning Research Assistant- Blue Bell, PA)

Describe your dream Job: I would eagerly and energetically arrive at my dream job every day. The company would emphasize strong values, innovative thinking, and a collaborative work environment. Brilliant and friendly colleagues would encourage me to absorb information like a sponge, challenge my thinking, and grow my personal and professional network.

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? Business is uniquely all-encompassing and intriguingly ambiguous. It provides the opportunity to delve into an unlimited number of fields and to face new challenges every day.

Where would you like to work after graduation?  I am honored to be joining Johnson & Johnson full-time via their Global Operations Leadership Development (GOLD) rotational program.

What are your long-term professional goals? I hope to earn my M.S. in supply chain or a related field, learn something new every day, contribute to a large corporation, and make a positive impact in the world. From a personal standpoint, I’d like to keep responsibility, respect, and morals at the forefront of my career path.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Jump into the world of unlimited opportunity, step outside your comfort zone, and cherish every moment and memory. As with any situation, be a good listener and try to absorb the knowledge, insights, and wisdom of those around you.

“I knew I wanted to major in business when… I competed in the Future Business Leaders of America national conference in high school. We traveled to San Antonio, Texas, and my teammate and I won fifth place in Desktop Publishing and Design.”

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be… a chef. I love to cook! Or a doctor because I like to care for others.”

“Before I entered business school, I wish I had known… to be more confident and believe that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.”

What was the happiest moment of your life? Every moment I get to spend with my family and close friends. I never take God’s blessings for granted.

Which academic, extracurricular, or personal achievement are you most proud of? Volunteering on various committees for Penn State Dance Marathon. The organization seeks to raise funds, awareness, and support for children with pediatric cancer. It’s an honor to be part of the remarkable mission and to help make a profound, positive impact in our community.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand? I wasn’t sure how to answer this, so I asked my best friend. She said I’m “a dog – loyal, sweet, and welcoming.” Shout out to my miniature poodle, Bentley.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family. The unwavering support and unconditional love from my parents is one of my greatest blessings in life. I always look up to my brother, Eric, for his intelligence, creativity, and honesty, and I’m thankful that he never ceases to make me laugh and smile. And finally, my best friend, Kelly, is the sister I never had but always wanted.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? “If she can do it, I can definitely do it.”

Favorite book: Everyday Graces by Karen Santorum

Favorite movie: The Proposal

Favorite musical performer: Taylor Swift or Mat Kearney

Favorite vacation spot: Alaska or Switzerland

What are your hobbies? Spending time with my family and friends, cooking, traveling, learning new things, exercising, and doing anything outdoors.

What made Karen such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2017?

“I have had the pleasure to get to know many students during my 31 years at Penn State. Karen is truly one of the best. She has brought recognition, from external and internal sources, to our department. She was named a Richter Scholar during her junior year, which is a truly outstanding achievement. She just completed her term as president of our CSCMP Student Roundtable, our undergraduate supply chain student organization. She is a member of the Schreyer Honors College and the Sapphire Leadership Academic Program. She is a true leader and is respected by her peers and our faculty. Even with all of these remarkable achievements, Karen remains one of the most humble young women I have ever known. She always credits others for their work and wants no recognition for hers. She is truly unique and she will be difficult to replace when she graduates.”

Robert Novack
Associate Professor of Supply Chain and Information Systems
Penn State University, Smeal College of Business


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.