Pioneer Spotlight: Mary Bartling

Mary Bartling

Mary Bartling came to UW-Platteville in the fall of 2016 as an assistant professor in supply chain management. She brings to the business program an assortment of work experience, including time at Harley Davidson Motor Company, MillerCoors, General Electric and Bon-Ton Stores that benefits her students. However, teaching called more to Bartling as she continued to work in her field and eventually led her to UW-Platteville.

Bartling teaches Supply Chain Management, Leadership and Management, Introduction to Enterprise Resource Management and Predictive Analytics. She received her bachelor’s degree from UW-Stout and her master’s from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. She aims to pursue her Ph.D. in the near future.

Prior to teaching at UW-Platteville, what job experience have you had that most influenced how you teach today?

Most of my job experience is in purchasing, management and supply chain. When I graduated from UW-Stout, I started in retail, buying and planning for Bon-Ton Stores. During that time the company merged and acquired other department stores and grew from a 5 to a 260-store chain. So, when I left that job I went to General Electric and did the same work, but now I was buying parts for X-ray tubes, from the little screws to the big assembly pieces. This was a good experience for me because this was the first time I got global buying experience. I would also monitor the shipment of parts around the globe to make sure they came in when we needed them, or that we weren’t using too much of our inventory or too little. Working on a global scale was really interesting and I got to see all aspects of how a supply chain and its trading partners functioned. From there, I got a job at Harley Davidson Motor Company working in purchasing as a Purchasing Development Analyst and learning how to use an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. A couple years later I got an offer from Miller Coors. While there, I worked with packaging engineers, buying the components they needed for packaging. Eventually, I went back to Harley Davidson Motor Company as a Business Process Analyst where I ran the company-wide implementation of the ERP, (Enterprise Resource Planning) Systems that utilized SAP software. While I was doing this job, I was also teaching part-time in the UW-Milwaukee School of Business and discovered that while I enjoyed the excitement of working in the manufacturing industry; I enjoyed working with students more.

What kinds of hands-on learning opportunities do you provide your students?

SAP is hands-on; we have a whole course dedicated to teaching SAP. In my Introduction to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) course, I give students case studies who then read through it and input it into SAP. The screens that students work through are identical to what I used at Harley Davidson Motor Company. This is direct, hands-on learning that allows students to leave here knowing SAP. There are many students who have come back to me and have told me that they are a valuable person at their company because they came in knowing how to use SAP and did not need to be trained by their company. We are very lucky to be able to teach this information while students are still in college. If I can have more tools to teach through application, then that is how I want to do it; that is how students learn. I believe in high-impact practices which involves having an activity for students to complete in the class.

What qualities do UW-Platteville students have that have surprised you the most?

I think, in essence, our students want to learn. Last summer, I managed the internship program for our business students, and I have learned that employers say that UW-Platteville students are diligent and want to learn. Overall, the students I have had have always been timely, conscientious, eager, and are quick studies; you tell them something once and they got it. Also, it’s a smaller college so that allows students to be a more united force that knows each other by name which creates cohesion amongst students who can then work better together.

Are you engaged in any research currently, or is there any past research that you are especially proud of?

Yes, Professor Margaret Karsten and I are working on a sexual harassment survey. We put this survey together about a year ago and presented it at the Women and Gender Conference in Madison last spring. Initially, we administered a small pilot survey to 100 participants but plan to roll it out to a larger focus group once we obtain funding. Our hope is to see what peoples’ opinions about sexual harassment are after they get into the workforce. Being at a university is one thing, but once you get into the workforce, does a person’s view of sexual harassment change when they see someone misbehaving?

What do you hope your students take away from your classes?

My hope is that students learn to be better critical thinkers and stronger problem solvers and they are not afraid to challenge the status quo in the workplace. I hope they can take some of the experiences that I talk about into the workforce. I love students who come back to me and tell me that they trust my judgment and ask me for a recommendation. It feels good knowing that my impact on that student is strong enough that they ask for a letter. It is a specific type of praise, I think, that makes me love this job. I hope students gain information that they can use when they get out; I have students who come back and see me years later and tell me what they are doing now. When teaching, I try to keep my lectures interesting, and I try not to do too much “lecture-only” teaching. I teach in different ways and I hope students like that because the more they like the style of the class, the more they will retain in the end.