CARRIE L. (BYRNES) ANDERSON never envisioned her chemical engineering degree would lead to a Chief Finance Officer role, but that’s exactly how her trajectory unfolded. As an undergraduate, Anderson quickly transitioned from her small all-female high school to the fast-paced and academically challenging environment at Purdue. With help from a supportive network within the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, she excelled academically, graduating with highest distinction.
While at Purdue, she completed a five-session co-op program with General Motors, and after graduation accepted an engineering role with the company. While at General Motors, she earned her MBA from Ball State University and transitioned into quasi-technical and financial roles, later transitioning fully into finance, progressing through investor relations, treasury, business unit finance and controllership roles. She has also held finance leadership roles with Integra LifeSciences, Dover Corporation, and Delphi Corporation, now known as Aptiv Corp.
In January 2023, Anderson was appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Campbell’s where she leads the finance function, including controllership, corporate financial planning and analysis, corporate strategy and development, tax, treasury, internal audit, investor relations, transactional services and information technology. She also serves as a member of the board of directors for Embecta Corporation.
Anderson credits her participation in Purdue’s co-op engineering program with teaching her very early in her career the value of project ownership and time management, honing presentation and critical thinking skills, and understanding the importance of financial acumen. She credits the program and experiences in providing career clarity, as well as boosting her confidence and self-efficacy – knowing she had the skills, knowledge, and capabilities to be successful in different situations and roles. While in the program she also made lifelong friendships that continue to this day.
“My chemical engineering degree and years at Purdue prepared me for so much more beyond gaining technical competency in the field,” Anderson says. “Through my undergraduate experience, I learned to believe in myself, surround myself with talented people, to advocate for myself and my abilities and reach for and expect success.”
MICHAEL A. KLOBUCHAR was the only student to raise his hand in a freshman chemistry lecture hall, volunteering to participate in a study designed to explore the cognitive steps required to acquire new knowledge, specifically within chemistry and chemical education. That bold move led to a series of events that would shape his engineering career, including publishing his undergraduate research with his friend and longtime mentor, the late George Bodnar, emeritus professor of chemistry.
“Dr. Bodnar believed in me more than I believed in myself,” Klobuchar says. “That feeling has been a source of unparalleled energy and inspiration for me throughout my career. As a leader, seeking to recreate this feeling in others is the single most important thing I can do as an executive today.”
As executive vice president and chief strategy officer for Merck, Klobuchar leads the advancement and execution of the company’s strategy, with additional responsibility for business development and information technology. Prior to this role, he was senior vice president and finance lead for Merck Research Laboratories, the company’s research and development organization.
He began his career at Merck in 1998 as a synthetic process development engineer supporting new pipeline candidates within Merck Research Laboratories and has since held key technical, operational and financial roles across several areas of the company.
Klobuchar’s advice to students: “Personal discomfort is always the necessary precursor to real self-development. Don’t be afraid to move toward discomfort and fight the inherent tendency to run. Live within this margin of discomfort. It will accelerate your development, both professionally and personally.”
KYLE P. KOSTROSKI began his engineering education as a high schooler, working in his parents’ machine tool rebuilding company in Racine, Wisconsin. He enrolled at Purdue intending to pursue electrical engineering, but a knack for process engineering changed his mind. After earning his bachelor’s in chemical engineering, he remained at Purdue for his graduate studies, completing a PhD under Phillip Wankat, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering.
Now, as vice president for BP’s engineering portfolio, Kostroski is accountable for prioritization of activities, integrated resource planning and delivery of financial and operational performance objectives. He joined BP in 2008 as a research engineer supervising plant technicians and was part of a team recognized with BP’s Helios Award — the company’s highest honor — for improving delayed coker reliability at the Whiting, Indiana, refinery.
During his 15 years at BP, Kostroski has held a number of roles of increasing responsibility in the technical, commercial and operations areas of the company’s downstream. As a company executive, Kostroski leads a team responsible for optimizing the use of BP’s most senior and distinct engineering capability group in group engineering to support global business in hydrocarbons production and refining, hydrogen and carbon capture, onshore and offshore wind, electrical vehicle charging, biofuels and more.
Through it all, he reflects on how his time at Purdue shaped his professional path. “My Purdue chemical engineering experience taught me resilience in the face of a challenge,” Kostroski says. “This, along with humility and grit, has helped me become a successful engineer and effective leader.”
AMY L. ROTH recalls sitting in a freshman lecture hall during her first day of classes. The professor told students to “look around because at the end of the semester, two-thirds of the people in this room will be gone.” When winter break rolled around, the students sitting on either side of Roth were, in fact, gone.
Roth persevered through an honors curriculum, even when she found the advanced engineering coursework in her junior and senior years to be much more challenging.
“An engineering degree is like a badge, I take it with me everywhere,” Roth says. “As a woman with an engineering degree from Purdue, doors were opened for me that would not have been opened otherwise. A Purdue engineering degree shows that you are smart, committed and disciplined.”
As vice president of health and safety at Terra-Gen, LLC, a renewable energy company focused on developing, owning and operating utility-scale wind, geothermal and solar generation, Roth is responsible for the company’s environmental permitting and compliance, health and safety and environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting.
Prior to joining Terra-Gen in March 2023, she was vice president of regulatory oversight for E&B Natural Resources, a private California-based oil and natural gas production company. She began her career at BP where she was selected for and participated in the company’s leadership development program and successfully completed a four-year international assignment based in London.