Alumna was always ahead of the curve

Nov 14, 2013

While a freshman in high school, Stacy Gardner told her English teacher that she would attend Kettering University.

Stacy Gardner was always ahead of the curve when it came to making life decisions. She started saving for a car when she was nine years old and not long after, while a freshman in high school, she told her English teacher that she would attend Kettering University.

Stacy Gardner“I knew I wanted to go away to school. I wanted a fresh start and Michigan sounded great to me,” Gardner said.

Gardner, a resident of Kansas City, MO, was driven to Kettering by the co-op program and the unique ability to work in diverse environments every three months. She graduated from Kettering in 2006 with a degree in computer science and her co-op journey led her to a distinctive form of business consulting. 

Gardner did the first part of her co-op with in the information technology department at the Kansas City-based law firm Shook, Hardy, & Bacon. The firm announced layoffs in Gardner’s last term which provided her an opportunity to pursue another internship to complete her co-op requirement. Fortunately for her, one of the consultants that she worked with while at the law firm was splitting to start his own company and was so impressed with her work that he brought her on for the remaining duration of her co-op. The company, Avalution Consulting, specializes in business continuity and disaster recovery consulting and Gardner has been with them for eight years now.

"We help organizations understand the critical products and services they provide customers, to help them then identify the tolerable down time for their customers when faced with business interruptions," Gardner said. "This then helps us develop and implement appropriate risk mitigation and response strategies to adequately manage risk.”

Disasters can be either technical or natural. For example, Avaluation was engaged with a hospital client in New York that was forced evacuate during Hurricane Sandy. The team assisted with processes and developing plans for their evacuation and helped the support the move of their data center to an alternate data recovery site. Gardner specifically was assisting a defense manufacturing company with 10 geographically-dispersed sites along the path of Hurricane Sandy, helping to coordinate and ensure consistent decision-making and response across the organization. Gardner also consulted with a hospital client during the California wildfires in 2007. Gardner supported the evacuation and initiated steps to recover the data center in Boulder, Colorado. Other disasters can include IT systems failures or disruptions in the supply chain. 

“I was a computer science major so that definitely gave me technical insight,” Gardner said. “Also at my co-op at Shook, Hardy, & Bacon, I wasn’t just reading about how companies are doing things, I was there to see disaster recovery exercises - getting to see those things when I’m 19 and 20 year old had a huge impact on me being successful.”

Gardner’s work has taken her all over the continental United States and most recently to overseas destinations as well. Two years ago, she was promoted to the managing consultant position in the 20-person firm. Gardner feels strongly about the experience gained at Kettering and the resulting benefits it is having on her career.

“The 2.5 years of work experience you get during that time is invaluable,” Gardner said. “Just learning office politics is huge - learning how to write documents and present at meetings. Kettering really takes a real world approach and the co-op just reinforces that over and over again. With everything that Kettering teaches you, you’re two years ahead of everyone in the job market.”