The $75 million Kettering graduate

Aug 3, 2007

An idea by Ann Marie Weitzel '99 saved millions and earned her the Sun Microsystems 2007 Chairman's Award for Innovation.

Ann Marie WeitzelA feeling of success and accomplishment-- that's what happens when you create and implement a solution that saves more than $75 million and helps the company you work for recover from a $310 million loss in 2006, to a $329 million gain in 2007.

Ann Marie Weitzel, a 1999 Kettering graduate, knows the feeling.

Weitzel works at Sun Microsystems, a multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 company that sells products like computer software, data storage systems and servers to corporations such as e-Bay and AT&T.

In July, the 31-year old California resident received Sun Microsystems 2007 Chairman's Award for Innovation. Sun presents the award to top innovators, who have improved a project that is integral to the company's success. "I feel fortunate," she said. "The Chairman's Award is one of the top two awards in the company."

"Ann Marie continues to be involved with Kettering.
She exemplifies Kettering's highest ideals of professionalism, leadership and citizenship. We are proud."

Betsy Homsher, Associate Dean of Students at Kettering

Weitzel led a team of seven to create a supply chain needed to honor warranties on their products. To ensure the warranties, Sun previously purchased bulk quantities of spare parts at a cost of more than $100 million.

About Sun Microsystems:

      • Created in 1982.
      • Provides network computing infrastructure solutions including computer systems, software, storage and various services.34, 494 employees worldwide
      • Ranks #187 on Forbes 2007 list of Fortune 500 companies.
      • Provides service in more than 100 countries in the world.
      • 2007 Fiscal Year Revenue: $13.873 billion.

Sun wanted a quick solution and, with Weitzel's system, that is what the company received.

Weitzel and her team's new supply chain now allows customers to trade in used products, which are then refurbished and remanufactured to ensure customer warranties. The system not only saves the company cash, it also offers customers an estimated 20 percent savings on products that are traded in.

It's a win-win not only for the company and its customers, it's also environmentally conscientious. "We are not building products that we don't need, and rather than buying new parts we are recycling," Weitzel said.

Weitzel attributes these accomplishments in part to the education she received at Kettering University. "I would not be the person I am today without Kettering," she said. "It is a great place to be with amazing opportunities."

Reflecting on family and friends, most of whom attended Kettering, Weitzel said, "We are all successful." She added that even her 16 year-old brother has aspired to attend Kettering since he was a little boy and wears the Kettering logos with pride.

Weitzel said students at Kettering are much further ahead of everyone else their age.

Fun Facts About Ann Marie Weitzel:

  • Graduated from Chippewa Valley High School in Clinton Township.
  • Married to Braden Robison, a 1998 graduate of Kettering University.
  • Ann Marie and Braden will be adopting a child from China
  • In 2005, Ann Marie visited Peru with Cross Cultural Solutions to volunteer at an orphanage.
  • While attending Kettering, Ann Marie worked her co-op at Standard Products.
  • Ann Marie helped Laura Sullivan start the Engineers Without Borders in 2005.
  • She also helped create the Woman of the Year award and recognition banquet.

"You have to work hard from the beginning and you can balance it all better than most students. Kettering also teaches students to juggle multiple responsibilities at once," she explained.

Weitzel was recently promoted to Training and Development manager of Operations at Sun's California office. Weitzel graduated with a degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering and lives in the San Francisco Bay are with her husband, Braden.

Written by Andrea Beaudoin
(810) 762-9865