Member Spotlight: Jennifer Piercy

Jennifer Parr Piercy
Professional Member
Raleigh, NC

Careers can often consist of unexpected twists and turns, sometimes leading to unexpected results.

As a paper science student at North Carolina State University, Jennifer Piercy earned five different internships with two companies in three locations: Willcopy, a division of Willamette in their Owensboro, Ky location; Willamette’s Hawesville, Ky mill (now Domtar); and Procter and Gamble (P&G) in Albany, Ga. Upon graduation, she accepted fulltime employment with P&G in Albany and worked as a process engineer, area manager and machine superintendent in Charmin Papermaking.

When her husband decided to pursue a graduate degree, Jennifer accepted a job at the University of Virginia in their MBA Alumni and Career Services office. Intending for it to serve simply as a two-year hiatus from her love of paper manufacturing, Jennifer soon realized she’d stumbled across another great love, working with students.

After relocating back to Raleigh, Jennifer set out to reconnect with faculty and staff in NC State’s Paper Science and Engineering program and eventually landed her dream job serving as Director of Student Recruiting, a career that couples work in paper science with student engagement. “This job was the perfect way to combine my first love in paper science with my newly found love of working with students,” Jennifer explained. In a potential first, she also serves as the Executive Director of NC State’s Pulp & Paper Advisory Board, making her the first female to be appointed director of any school’s pulp and paper foundation.

As Director, Jennifer is responsible for the recruitment, retention and development of all 200 undergraduate students in NC State’s Paper Science and Engineering program. She also leads the alumni relations and corporate development efforts for the program.

Q. What prompted you to join TAPPI?
A. TAPPI’s vast array of benefits was my driver. I enjoy the networking, conferences, professional development and the opportunity to be involved in what I would call “your passion areas.” For me, these areas are the Women in Industry (WIN) Division and Student Chapter involvement.

Q. Can you describe your involvement with TAPPI over the years?
A. I am currently Chair of the Celebrating Women Leaders Committee and a member of the Executive Committee for the WIN Division. I also serve on all TAPPI Student Summit planning efforts. Fun fact: I was the NC State TAPPI Student Chapter President “back in the day” so my history with TAPPI does go back a ways.

Q. How has TAPPI membership benefitted you and your career?
A. TAPPI enables me to stay connected with all of the different segments and markets of our industry and because of that I am constantly gaining market, company, and industry knowledge. Being able to attend conferences, and working within Divisions, keeps me connected to the entire paper industry, which is ultimately my client. Our goal at NC State is to produce engineers that have a love of the paper industry and to help move us forward. Therefore, I must stay connected and “in the know” to provide that service. There is no better way than with TAPPI.

Q. What has been your experience using TAPPI resources?
A. I use as many web and print TAPPI publications as possible, as well as attending conferences. I need to stay current on industry trends, and share and relate these trends to current and prospective students. I also use TAPPI Connect to meet new people and stay in touch with others, and to also find help when the need arises; the Career Center as a resource to send our Alumni to who might be seeking that next opportunity; and finally connecting with TAPPI staff and members is a huge benefit of membership.

Q. What is a fun fact about you and/or any personal hobbies and activities?Jennifer Piercy_June 2020_Family.jpg
A. I had never been in the state of North Carolina prior to accepting my scholarship to study paper science at NC State! Also, another fun fact - as I was working part-time raising my kids, I coached middle and high school track and field. I am an avid fan of all levels. On a family level, my husband is also a Chemical Engineer from NC State who formerly worked in our industry. Our daughter is currently studying chemical engineering and has already completed one co-op in the paper industry. Our son is in high school and hopes to pursue sports management and business degrees. We love to spend time on the lake - boating, fishing, swimming and just being outdoors. I enjoy all college sports, reading and hot yoga.

Q. Favorite paper product and thoughts on most significant breakthrough’s in our industry?
A. Well, I would be remiss if I did not say my favorite paper product is Charmin toilet tissue. I think there have been many breakthroughs, but I am looking forward to what is to come – more bio-based plastics, more paper-based packaging and the way paper will play a role in the medical field and printed electronics.

Q. Closing thoughts on TAPPI membership?
A. For people who attend paper schools, you learn very early that our industry is a big family. For those who did not, you will learn that at your first event. Colleagues welcome you, support you and encourage you. I feel inspired by the leaders I work with through TAPPI and the employees are top notch. TAPPI is sort of a one-stop-shop where you can find the people, resources and help you need – which is why membership is so important. Through TAPPI, you can find most anything you need.