Monday, December 4, 2017

'Schwan's People You Need to Know'

Lenz talks about her 15-year career with Schwan’s

"Schwan's People You Need to Know" is an ongoing series of stories that share some of our employees' experiences as we celebrate our 65th anniversary and participate as a founding partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl 52 Host Committee

Dec. 4, 2017 — Shannon Lenz has a passion for getting things done and that’s a good trait to have as a senior project manager at Schwan’s Company.

“I only know how to work at 120 percent, so every minute of the day is precious. I have my list of goals for the day and continually adjust as new priorities arise or if projects become less important,” she said.

Shannon began working at Schwan’s 15 years ago. Today, she serves as a senior project manager for the Information Services team, where she is responsible for coordinating projects and making sure they are completed on time and under budget.

In this role, she most recently managed a project to develop and rollout new hand-held devices to the company’s home-delivery sales team. The project will be completed this year.

Shannon recently took some time to talk about project management, traveling and her career journey.

Q: Tell us why your job is one of the most interesting jobs in the company.

A: I love to get stuff done! As a project manager, I am responsible for leading a team to get something new and cool done for the organization that makes a direct impact to the business. I get to manage and work with team members throughout the company. For example, on the Schwan’s Home Service handheld project, I worked closely with representatives from every area in the business and corporate, from the route sales representatives to the business unit president.

Q: As a senior project manager, what’s your typical day like?

A: As a project manager, my day is broken into three types of work:
  • Ensuring the team is starting upcoming work as soon as possible.
  • Confirming the status of current work and addressing issues as quickly as possible to keep things on track.
  • Looking out for anything that can keep us from being successful and making sure mitigation plans are in place.
Q: What are you passionate about in your job?

A: I want to be successful. When I am managing a project, I want to ensure we are clear on what the ultimate goals are and what benefits we are driving for. As a leader, I strive to build a team in which members understand the goal, can think outside the box and bring new and better ideas forward, and can constructively challenge each other to keep things simple and aligned to the goal.

Q: Tell us about your career journey here at Schwan’s.

A: I actually started at Schwan’s as an intern and was hired as an IS analyst right out of college. I was quickly moved into a manger role. After leaving Schwan’s, I returned as an IS lead. Soon after, I transitioned to a project manager position and then was promoted to senior project manager. After the installation of a very large project, I was looking for a new opportunity and was hired as the director of fleet purchasing in Schwan’s Home Service. I was in the fleet position for five years before moving back to an IS project manager position when my husband went to graduate school and I made the personal decision to decrease my travel time.

Q: How have you grown?

A: I have learned a lot through my failures and successes. I am smarter and wiser about reviewing, calculating, managing and taking risks. I am more direct in driving to get the right things done for the right reasons, and less hesitant about asking team members to change their priorities to get something done. I continue to mature in managing others and in holding them accountable. I am more courageous in being a part of conflict and leading through conflict.

Q: What’s your favorite memory in all the years you’ve worked here?

A: When I was part of a team managing the final install for the conversion of moving all applications for sales and inventory processing for Consumer Brands and Home Service off of our mainframe computer. We started on a Friday evening at 10 p.m. by turning off access to the system. We had a minute-by-minute plan that went from Friday at 10 p.m. to Sunday at 2 p.m. that required the team to work together concisely without delays. The whole team worked super hard to successfully convert the system so the field sales team could be ready to sell to their customers on Monday with the new system. It took true teamwork to get it all accomplished.

Q: Schwan’s is a founding partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl 52 Host Committee this year, are you a football fan?

A: Yes! However, I am not always able to watch because of other family activities.

Q: Which team do you hope will make it to the Big Game next year?

A: My home team, the Vikings.

Q: What is your favorite Schwan’s Home Service product to serve at a Big Game viewing party?

A: Schwan’s® Italian-Style Meatballs.

Q: What’s your favorite Schwan’s product?

A: I love the Schwan’s® Signature™ Wild-caught Alaskan Cod and the Schwan’s Asparagus Spears.

Q: Do you have any recipes you are a master of that you would like to share?

A: I am generally too busy to be too creative in my cooking, so I simply combine Schwan’s Fire-Grilled Chicken Breast Strips and Schwan’s Asian-Style Vegetable Stir-Fry products together in a pan. I complete the meal with a couple of Schwan’s Chicken Egg Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce.

Q: What are you most proud of throughout your career at Schwan’s?

A: I have been fortunate to work with, hire and manage some really talented people and see them grow in their careers (even beyond my level). I have been fortunate to have the responsibility to lead projects that were critical for the business to drive growth.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know about you.

A: I have been very fortunate in my career to be able to travel abroad for business and for fun — from looking for new Schwan’s truck bodies in Italy and Lithuania to working with business partners in Malaysia, Singapore and London. I even had the opportunity to travel for fun to play in a basketball tournament in Germany and Czechoslovakia.

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