A Powerful Partnership

Just 10 minutes from Meredith College sits the global headquarters of SAS Institute, a technology company that’s regularly listed as one of the world’s top places to work.

With benefits that include on-site childcare and health care facilities, a fitness center, and even a hair salon, SAS currently is ranked among the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces, the Best Workplaces for Diversity, and the Best Workplaces for Women.

Indeed, women make up more than 40 percent of SAS’s leadership and nearly half of its entire workforce.

Among them are nearly 70 Meredith alumnae, who are building their careers at the company, which helps organizations solve problems using its analytics platform. According to Jenn Mann, SAS executive vice president and chief human resources officer, there’s good reason Meredith alumnae thrive in the organization.

“Their communication is excellent. They are confident. They just have it together,” said Mann.

Meredith’s strong connections to SAS start at the top. Mann graduated in 1992 with a psychology major. Ann Goodnight, wife of SAS CEO James Goodnight, attended Meredith before graduating from N.C. State University and is the company’s senior director of community relations.

“Ann has been a very good friend to Meredith,” said Meredith President Jo Allen of Goodnight. “… She’s been a great example of a real connector, somebody who understands which women need to be in touch with each other.”

On the ground, Meredith’s career planning office has forged a strong relationship with SAS’s university recruiter, who has been a frequent campus visitor, participating in a variety of events including Meredith’s annual career fair in February.

SAS isn’t the only major Raleigh-area employer with which Meredith leaders have cultivated relationships. They’ve also built career pipelines to Credit Suisse, MetLife Global Technology, and GlaxoSmithKline, among others.

“Our talents lie in building relationships with others,” said Dana Sumner, director of Meredith’s Office of Career Planning. “That’s how we make things happen.”

At SAS, Meredith alumnae took very different paths to get where they are today. Here are some of their stories.

Photo of Jenn Mann in a blue shirt smiling at the camera.Jenn Mann, ’92

A class in organizational psychology at Meredith helped launch Jenn Mann’s career in human resources. At the time, there was no human resources track at Meredith, so Mann and her academic advisor put together a job shadowing program with a local HR professional. She was hooked.

“The academic advisor was very instrumental in helping me,” Mann said. “The career counseling department, which is top notch, helped to expose opportunities in the field.”

In 1998, when she took the job at SAS, Mann never intended to stay longer than two years. In fact, it was a step back from the job she’d left at a startup that faced some management challenges. When she left that previous job, she vowed to never again work in a company that didn’t value its employees.

“I knew a little bit about SAS in that regard,” Mann said of its benefits. “It completely exceeded all expectations.”

As a working mother, SAS made it possible for Mann to seamlessly integrate her jobs as mom and professional. “I never felt like I had to make a choice because I could do both,” she said.

And, as a leader, she’s constantly challenged, the opportunities are “endless” and she’s traveled the world. At SAS, said Mann, “You never get bored.”

Photo of Sarah smiling at the cameraSarah Haseeb, ’16

Before her junior year began, Sarah Haseeb set her sights on a SAS internship – and got it. For two years, she interned there, learning programming languages, working on projects and, it appears, impressing her supervisors. Six months before her 2016 graduation, SAS offered the computer science and mathematics major a full-time job.

Today, Haseeb is a senior associate analytics software tester. At SAS, even as an intern, Haseeb said, she has always felt like an equal.

“I was still learning things,” she said, “but they would treat me with a lot of respect and care.”

At Meredith, she developed the confidence and communication skills to speak up about her ideas in the workplace. There, in small class sizes and through her involvement in student groups, she learned how to interact effectively with others.

“It really made me into who I am,” Haseeb said. “I honestly believe, if I had gone anywhere else, I wouldn’t have the same opportunities.”

photo of elizabeth Elizabeth Dove, ’84

The first stop in Elizabeth Dove’s retail career was a department store buyer in New York. Eventually, jobs took her to Europe where Dove began helping companies deploy software solutions. “The tech side of the job really fascinated me,” said Dove, a 1984 graduate and history major.

In 2002, SAS called, looking for somebody to help build up its retail practice. Today, Dove is senior manager of industry consulting at SAS, supporting four business sectors, including retail. After years working in the corporate world, Dove said she still pulls lessons from her Meredith education.

“One of the things that I learned in school, and this was part of my major, is the ability to research a lot of data, refine it, and get it down to the granules of truth,” she said.

With SAS, she’s found a place that encourages her to stretch.

“The company lives up to its public ethos of treating its employees well, providing a very pretty and a very stable work environment so that you’re not worried about the next year’s performance,” she said. “You feel like you can take a risk.”

black and white photo of cassondra wearing a hatCassondra Wilson, ’14

Cassondra Wilson, a graphic design major, graduated in 2014, but her story at SAS starts 10 years ago. At 16, Wilson began as an intern through Communities in Schools of Wake County, a program that helps students in need. Starting as a library assistant, she stayed on in various roles through college until she decided to focus her studies on art and graphic design.

“I’m really into storytelling, and that is what Meredith really helped me with,” she said. “They helped me find my path of storytelling through photography, through visuals.”

Once she landed on her major, SAS paired her with graphic designers. Today, she is an associate photographer, snapping headshots and capturing moments at events, working to tell stories through the photos she shoots.

For Wilson, who attended eight different schools during her childhood, SAS is more than just a workplace. There, she’s found the support to grow – personally and professionally.

“SAS is like family to me,” she said. “This is the only place I have ever worked and the only true stability that I’ve known to this day. … I really don’t know where I would have been without SAS.”

Meg in a blazer smiling at the cameraMeg Deal, ’91

After years working long hours as a certified public accountant, Meg Deal was ready for a better quality of life and an opportunity to stretch her international tax skills. Five years ago, Deal, a 1991 graduate and accounting major, made the leap to SAS.

As international tax director, Deal now advises SAS’s more than 50 global subsidiaries. She works with employees who travel overseas for long-term assignments. And she supports SAS’s global transfer pricing policy.

She admitted during her interview that she’d have a learning curve when it came to the complicated work required in transfer pricing. But they gave her a chance to learn.

“They were very supportive of me,” she said. “A lot of the people who come here don’t ever leave, so you have a lot of institutional knowledge.”

And, sometimes she’ll run into another Meredith alumna, including Beverly Carlton, a longtime SAS employee, who was roommates at Meredith with Deal’s mother’s former coworker.

“When they found out I was coming here, she welcomed me,” said Deal, whose mother, Betsy Deal, graduated from Meredith in 1965. “It just opens doors – having that connection to Meredith.”

Ashley PrinceAshley Prince, ’00, ’05 (MBA)

A year into her administrative job at SAS, Ashley Prince admits that she was “terrible” at it. “A kind soul took me aside,” she said, and recommended moving into sales.

Fast forward about 15 years and Prince, senior manager for inside sales at JMP, a SAS division, is not only working in sales, but leading a sales team.

“I’ve always wanted to be solving really cool business challenges and working with really brilliant people. That’s what drew me to this place,” said Prince, who graduated from Meredith in 2000 with a business major and 2005 with an MBA.

She credits Meredith with cultivating the skills that propelled her to her position today. “You’re never in a passive role when you’re in a women’s college,” she said. “The leadership skills, they just kind of emerge.”

Meredith’s culture and camaraderie continue after graduation too. Sometimes, she’ll spot another alumna wearing her class ring at SAS. “It’s instant rapport because you have that collection of shared experiences,” she said. “You can relate to them on a really different level.”

Melyssa Allen

News Director
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