“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” reads the inscription on New York City’s James A. Farley Post Office.
That motto is literally enabled by Karen A. Pompanella ’88, United States Postal Service manager, transportation portfolio, who manages a $6 billion budget and purchases air and surface transportation, and fuel.
“I have ten offices across the country and 160 professionals all working to get the right transportation at the right price in the right place at the right time to move the mail,” she says.
In her previous position as manager of air transportation, Pompanella played several key roles in the air cargo network procurement and review process that resulted in a seven-year contract award to Federal Express valued at approximately $10.5 billion.
She has remained with the postal service, she says, because of the challenge of working with an employer that would rank 42nd in the 2012 Fortune 500 if it were a private-sector company.
“The scope of what goes on behind the scenes to get Grandma her birthday card is unreal,” she says. “All of the various components—operations, legal, finance, purchasing, marketing, engineering, facility management, sustainability—are a mystery to people.”
“Lafayette prepared me to accept future challenges with the confidence that I could be effective at whatever role I choose to take,” says Pompanella, an A.B. engineering (now called “engineering studies”) graduate. “Over my career, I have tackled several new jobs without much functional knowledge. Knowing how to think through issues, solve problems, and communicate with people at all levels of the organization has been critical to my success. Simply being an expert in a given field is not enough; the people who can communicate and work to solve problems are the ones who thrive.”
An Alumni Admissions Representative for nearly 20 years, Pompanella got involved because she wanted to help spread the word about Lafayette in an area where it isn’t well known.
“I like talking with students about what they’ve done and where they want to go,” she says. “I find it fascinating to listen to their rationale—some have a thoughtful, detailed approach while others are more ‘seat of the pants.’ I enjoy explaining how Lafayette’s offerings can further their visions.”