An MBA Helps Build A Career

Melanie Payeur '07, '15G credits UNH with giving her a foundation of knowledge from to build and grow her operations career
Paul College in spring

UNH alum Melanie Payeur ‘07, ‘15G combined her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with an MBA to elevate her career as an Environmental, Health, and Safety Manager at Lindt & Sprugli. 

Originally from Berlin, N.H., Payeur credits UNH with giving her a foundation of knowledge from which to build and grow her operations career. She landed her first job at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack, where she spent five years in plant maintenance and production. In 2012, she jumped at the opportunity to join Lindt & Sprungli (USA) as a project engineer, where today she works as its Environmental, Health, and Safety Manager. Her primary role is to ensure environmental and safety compliance and manages environmental audits at the international company’s Stratham facility.  

“When people hear that, they think about audits, checklists, and dealing with regulatory agencies. That is certainly part of the job, but it's really a leadership role,” Payeur said. “Safety is our first priority-- and creating a culture where we don't take shortcuts, but we are still efficient in production--is a continuous challenge.” 

Why Earn a Part-Time MBA in Manchester? 

While working in her role at Lindt, Payeur enrolled in the Part-Time MBA program at the UNH-Manchester campus, and credits the program for helping her develop the problem-solving skillset she needed to tackle challenges on the job.  

“I researched different MBA programs in the area, and I was drawn to UNH because of its good reputation. When I learned it was the only program in the area accredited by the AACSB, it quickly became the front runner for me,” Payeur said. “I chose to attend in Manchester because I was living there at the time. I loved that I had the option to go to Durham if I wanted to, as well as take classes online. I ended up taking all my classes in Manchester, but the fact I had options was wonderful.” 

Being in the classroom with other working professionals was yet another benefit of the Part-Time MBA at Manchester program, Payeur said, thanks to the number of companies in the Greater Manchester area. Best of all, Payeur said, she and other students got the chance to work with real professionals, scholars, and experts.  

Some of her favorite classes included marketing strategy from Professor Tom Gruen and operations classes with Senior Lecturer Russ Miles.  

“His real-world experience gave us such rich lectures. He (Miles) also brought in industry professionals to give lectures on specific topics,” she said. “I loved this approach to learning because he was then able to tie the presenters’ talks back to what we were learning, and again use real world examples.” 

Lessons Learned 

Identifying a strategy and planning to get there are the skills that Payeur said she uses most on the job and commends the MBA program for helping her fine-tune them. 

“At the beginning of my job, I assessed the situation to understand the current state, and then I created a vision for where our organization should be in five years. The specifics of that vision may change occasionally from day to day, but overall the goal remains the same,” Payeur said. “While getting my MBA, I was able to refine my ability to set a plan and adapt to challenges in the day-to-day management of the business while keeping the end goal in mind.” 

Payeur said that what she learned through her MBA coursework helped her reduce “lost time accidents” at her facility. A “lost time accident” means someone experienced an injury on the job which prevented that employee from working one or more days.  

“My vision is zero accidents, and we are on our way there,” she said. 

Aside from helping her better address on-the-job challenges, Payeur said the MBA exposed her to other areas of business and made her thirsty for more knowledge.  

“The experience you gain working on case studies and in groups is translatable to the real problems that need to be solved daily, so it was like flexing a muscle that I use continuously now.” 

Future Aspirations 

While some students pursue an MBA to change careers, Payeur’s goal is to continue building her career in operations, with aspirations to work in other areas of the supply chain and grow as a leader.  

“It's important to focus on how we get results, not just that we get results-- so growing as a leader is a priority for me,” she said. 

She also stays in close contact with Paul College, giving her time and leadership skills to the advisory board for the undergraduate Information Systems and Business Analytics senior project program. She’s sponsored senior projects through this program which gives students real- world experience, and Payeur the opportunity to work with UNH students.  

“I also especially enjoy when Professor Miles asks me to come in and speak to his undergraduate students about project management in his operations course,” she said. 

Final Word to Prospective Students 

Pursuing an MBA at Paul College is a great choice for working professionals, Payeur said. 

“Paul College looks great on a resume, but more importantly you will be exposed to current problems and situations that will prepare you for the future,” she said. “You will be taught by experts who have done research in whatever topic you are learning, or industry professionals who are top in their field.”