Karen Nozzolillo, a supply chain and logistics major at Goodwin College, spoke alongside other manufacturing students and industry presidents at the 2015 CBIA Manufacturing Summit on Friday, May 29.
TRUMBULL — As part of a panel focused on the connections between education and industry, Goodwin College student and 20-year Birken Manufacturing veteran Karen Nozzolillo stressed the importance of the skills she continues to learn in school. The discussion was part of Made in Connecticut, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association’s 2015 summit, held in Trumbull on May 29.
“I’m 46, going to school, and what I’ve learned I’m able to bring back and teach to other people in the company,” she told an assembled audience of dozens of manufacturing leaders, educators, and employees.
Seated alongside Birken Manufacturing president Gary Greenberg and other industry panelists, Nozzolillo, spoke about her entry into the manufacturing field and how her Goodwin College education has helped determine the trajectory of her career.
“I’m interested in environmental health and safety,” Nozzolillo told the panel. “I fell in love with the program. That’s really where my passion is now.”
Nozzolillo has been employed at Birken Manufacturing since 1996, gaining on-the-job training in many facets of the business by handling front office responsibilities. Located in Bloomfield, Connecticut, Birken is a third-generation, privately held company that specializes in the manufacture and production of jet engine metal components and assemblies, with customers ranging from Pratt & Whitney to Rolls Royce.
After taking a break of several years from Birken to raise her children and work full-time in emergency medical services, she returned to the company, where she has spent the past seven years in logistics.
“She left being my assistant and became the head of logistics,” Greenberg said.
She enrolled in Goodwin College in 2011 and majored in supply chain management in manufacturing. And thanks to her training in health and safety at Goodwin, she successfully lobbied to create the Environmental Health & Safety Officer position at Birken that she now occupies.
When asked about his company’s return on investment regarding promoting employee education, Greenberg said that there was no question of its worth. “I think there’s return on investment in the first year,” he said. “I’m thinking about the future, the ability to have workforce continuity.”
Nozzolillo continues to pursue her education at Goodwin College and plans to earn her bachelor’s degree. And when asked about the future, Nozzolillo laughed and pointed to Greenberg.
“What’s next for me?” she replied. “Sitting in his chair.”