A link in the chain: Alum coaches students on their climb into manufacturing


By Andrea O'Neill '06

As a December '82 grad, Rich Wisniewski was a member of the last class of Bloomsburg State College. That may have been why he was lost in the shuffle of alumni outreach for the first few decades after graduation.

"My wife graduated in the Summer of '82 and immediately started getting alumni communications but I didn’t," recalled Wisniewski. "We would joke that the class of '82 thought I was in the class of '83 and the class of '83 thought I was in the class of '82."

In fact, it was a phone call to his wife from the Bloomsburg University Foundation that got Wisniewski involved. Through that conversation, he reconnected with his Alma mater and was invited to attend the Zeigler Institute for Professional Development (ZIPD) Conference. A post-conference mixer got him connected with other alumni, and since then, Wisniewski has attended nearly every ZIPD Conference and Husky Dog Pound since their inceptions and has been part of the Zeigler College of Business (ZCOB) Advisory Board.

"I mentioned to the student [on the phone] that I was also an alum and to put me in the pool of volunteers," said Wisniewski.

"I was hooked on the concept that my life and career experiences could be of value to students. It is always fantastic to engage with the students and catch up with fellow alums. It is like having our own personalized 'Husky Homecoming'!”

Wisniewski spent six years in the U.S. Navy after graduation, where he discovered supply chain management and the career opportunities it provided. After leaving the Navy, Rich embarked on a supply chain career that would span nearly four decades with small and large companies in a variety of industries, eventually landing his current position with Sanofi Pasteur where he has spent the past 21 years in a variety of supply chain roles that support vaccine manufacturing. 

“When I graduated from Bloom the supply chain curriculum, and the opportunities that are available today, just didn't exist," explained Wisniewski. "[But] Bloom laid the groundwork for me to learn, to be flexible, and to recognize and ultimately pursue new opportunities and responsibilities as they presented themselves.“

Alumnus Rich Wisniewski with his son at a recent Professional U event.

After volunteering for a time, Wisniewski coordinated a Husky Career Road Trip to the Sanofi facility he supports. Students toured the vaccine manufacturing facility and networked with Bloomsburg alumni that work at the facility. Wisniewski hopes additional visits can be planned once COVID restrictions are lifted, and remains impressed with the program and its students.

"The students right now are head and shoulders above where I was. It's been an honor and privilege to support the college, and fantastic to see the students. I wish the school had these programs when I was in school."

Knowing how beneficial career experience is to students keeps Wisniewski coming back year after year to share his experiences. For fellow alum who have thought about volunteering but have been reluctant or don’t think that they have the time, Rich has some simple advice:  "Any personal experience you have is valuable to a student who is limited to a book," Wisniewski explained. "If you bring three or four of those experiences to a conference, you've enriched an entire room of students, and they'll take that information back to their classmates. You do students a disservice by not exposing them to your experiences. In the end you have just invested a few hours of your time and enlightened the next generation of business leaders. That feeling is priceless!”

Let us know if you are interested in volunteering and we will keep you up to date on upcoming opportunities.