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Maia Zampini '13 - Inventory Planner, Rejuvenation
Maia Zampini '13 - Inventory Planner, Rejuvenation

MBA Alumni: Maia Zampini (2013)

By Max Bielenberg

In a recent interview for the the Future Forward MBA blog, we spoke with MBA alum Maia Zampini about her career change from landscape architecture to inventory planning.



Q: Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today, Maia. So, you graduated the MBA program in 2013. Can you tell me a bit about what you were doing before that?

A: I had a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Penn State. After graduating, I practiced in that field for four years in Portland.

Q: That sounds like an interesting job. What led you to transition away from that and pursue an MBA?

A: I wanted more options. I wanted more analytical projects. I also wanted to stay in Portland. PSU had a really good reputation for leadership and innovation.

Q: Can you tell me about your current company, your role, and what it involves?

A: I work at Rejuvenation, which is a lighting and hardware company. They’re a local company that was started in the 70s by Jim Kelly, who was renovating Craftsman homes -- he was buying old pieces of lighting and hardware and refurbishing them. At first the company was just salvage and then they started manufacturing. In 2011 they were purchased by Williams Sonoma.

I’m an inventory planner. It’s planning and control, forecasting, making sure the right quantities get bought, seeing how fast the inventory turns. It’s our job, based on history, to say the company is going to do this much volume, they’re going to need to buy this much product to support it. In this kind of work, you have to be financially-oriented and analytical, but you have to know product as well. You zoom in and zoom out of details. You have to know high level financial details: you’re doing X million, and you have to know where it’s coming from at the item level.

Q: You did a fairly significant career change from landscape architecture. Can you tell me about your job hunt and initial experiences after graduation?

A: I was able to get a job at Pendleton Woolen Mills within a week after graduation. I really like local companies and heritage brands. I found a LinkedIn connection through one of my classmates in the program. She got me in the door to have an informational interview. I interviewed and they offered me a job; they had needs and knew I could help fill them. That company was going through big changes, so I knew there would be opportunity there as well. I got promoted really quickly. I started as a business analyst within retail planning. Then I got promoted to being a retail planner.

Q: In the MBA program, students are exposed to all the major business disciplines. What drew you to supply chain and inventory planning?

A:  I took Production Planning and Control with Mellie Pullman. It was so much fun, I knew wanted to pursue that. It was the thing I connected the most with.

Q: What was your favorite thing about the program?

A: For me it was the cohort. The quality of the other students. The mix was very dynamic, a lot of interesting people from diverse professional backgrounds. The discussions were always very interesting, with a lot of people playing devil’s advocate.

Q: What would you say to those who are considering pursuing an MBA?

A: Anybody that truly wants to explore new career options and personal and professional growth, in terms of leadership and taking chances, you should definitely do it.

Q: I know that many people are wary of entering a graduate program when they’re unsure of what exactly they want to do afterwards. Did you begin the program knowing you’d end up in your current field?

A: Not at all. I actually went in thinking I wanted to get the Real Estate Certificate. It was a logical transition from landscape architecture. I took a bunch of electives in that, but I also love products and just want to be around good design. Things really worked out, with my interests in planning, and my position at Pendleton.

Q: How did you transition from working at Pendleton to your current role at Rejuvenation?

A: The Director of Inventory Planning at Pendleton ended up leaving for Rejuvention and gave me a call a couple months later. They’re growing, they’ve got the support of a public company; Williams Sonoma is five billion dollar firm. It’s nice having that public company culture; that accountability and focus. They want to support us and see us grow. 

Q: As an extremely busy graduate student, I have to say I look forward to a post-graduation world with (relatively) more free time and no homework. What does one do with their time in a world without weekly case write-ups?

A: Well, I sometimes miss the crazy grad school schedule – when I was off the normal 9 to 5 routine and had free moments in the middle of the day or had moments of inspiration at midnight working on finance homework... But now I work really hard during the day and get to relax at night, cooking and eating meals with friends, reading, watching movies. It’s really nice having weekends free. I also just bought a house and spent the last month fixing it up – something I never would have had time for in school! 


Thanks for taking the time to be profiled, Maia. I know that current and prospective students enjoy hearing about alumni experiences. Best of luck!