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Andrea Bouma, MBA ‘16
Andrea Bouma, MBA ‘16

Andrea Bouma, MBA ‘16, was working as a Research and Development food scientist for Whitewave Foods in Broomfield, Colorado when she had the realization that she wanted to pivot to a new role within the food industry. She’d already earned a culinary degree, as well as a B.S. and M.S. in Food Science and Technology. The next step: The Portland MBA. 

Two years after graduating with her degree, Andrea is now the Director of Innovation for Flowers Foods, the parent company of Dave’s Killer Bread. 

“I really love this role because in a lot of ways it’s the opportunity to be an intrapreneur, where we are reinventing how we do business. It’s a great mesh of my technical background along with the skills I gained during the MBA program,” said Andrea.

What drew you to PSU’s School of Business? 
The Launch in 9 program was a major draw. The only way you can really learn how to be an entrepreneur is to do the work, so this practical learning environment was a very real approach to learning those skills. I also knew I wanted to be close to the business environment in Portland and so it was a good way to start those networking relationships both for corporate and for the start-up space. 

What was your previous experience in the industry?
My previous experience was in research and development in a technical role as a food scientist. I worked almost exclusively on innovation products but was often just a supporting member of the innovation team rather than leading the charge, which was one of my professional desires.  

What helped you achieve success in the program? 
I appreciated the small nature of the program. The cohort model was supportive and allowed me a space that I could grow beyond being in the technical space.

How did you like living, working, and studying in Portland?
Campus definitely does not feel like the typical ‘college campus’ and I liked that. It felt like a more urban professional environment. Living in Portland is great and the public transit is essential to living/studying at PSU.

What role did PSU play in helping you obtain this position or furthering your career goals?
PSU played a big role in helping me learn how to approach business from a strategic perspective as well as how to apply creativity to business models. I chose to do my capstone experience through the Launch in 9 program where we put to work all the theoretical learnings in a real world environment. To this day, I am always questioning what the ‘problem’ is that we are solving, and if it can’t be articulated then I encourage us to go down a path where we are really providing product solutions to alleviate consumer frustration.  

How are you currently connected to The School of Business? 
Currently, I am connected through being an alumni. I have reached out several times in the recent past for advise on job negotiations, as well as looking for candidates for our business. I think of the PSU business school as a welcoming ‘home’ community for me to use as a springboard for ideas, connections and support.
What would you say to fellow alumni or currents students to encourage them?
Business school is a lot of what you make of it. Learn how to best leverage this unique opportunity to pivot in your career or elevate your current role. Ask questions and make those network connections!