Wanda Ferguson has spent her adult life working full-time and pursuing an education. Beginning as a data entry clerk, she moved back to her home in Jennings County, Indiana to begin work at Arvin Automotive (which later became Pilot Industries), where she progressed through the ranks, beginning with manufacturing operator and ultimately to human resource manager.
Each step up the educational ladder brought an increase in position and responsibility in her workplace. While pursuing an associate degree at Ivy Tech, she was promoted to SPC technician; while focusing on mathematics classes at Hanover College, she was promoted to quality supervisor.
The next eight years were consumed by work and school. Ferguson says, "Purdue University was offering an associate's degreee in organizational leadership and Supervision [later, the University created a B.S. program in OLS] filled with classes that directly related to the challenges I faced at work." During those years, she transferred from the Quality Department to Human Resources, as training and development coordinator. In 1993, she was offered the human resource manager position."
When Pilot Industrial bought the company in 1993, she was offered the plant manager position. Says Ferguson, "The new owners were supportive of my goals and were willing to take a chance on someone who was not seasoned in managing a plant of 100 employees." In 1995, she graduated with a B.S. in OLS.
Leisure time comes in the form of gardening and camping. She lives on 10 acres of land and has built her dream house. Such activities help maintain her perspective on life and the importance of family and friends.
Her zest for knowledge continues. As Ferguson puts it, "Opportunities for learning come in the form of seminars and day-to-day interaction with coworkers who have been sharing their knowledge and skills for almost 30 years."
Involvement with the Jennings County Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Investment Board, and the Governor's Human Resource Investment Council allows her to network with business leaders from various organizations. Future plans involve more training and education and perhaps consulting.
This was originally written for the Distinguished Technology Alumni Awards in 2003.