After 14 years in the pulp and paper industry, Carrie Enos takes the helm at the University of Maine Pulp and Paper Foundation. The UMaine alumna intends to bring her deep knowledge of one of Maine's legacy industries to the foundation, which encourages and supports engineering students via more than 80 annual scholarships and mentoring opportunities to pursue careers within the pulp and paper industry.
Enos is a product of the foundation, through which she attended Engineering Camp when a junior in high school in Lincoln.
"Something about it really clicked," says Enos, 36. "I loved the problem-solving aspect of it and the camaraderie among the group that was trying to figure something out that seemed impossible at first."
That experience cemented her decision to study chemical engineering at UMaine, where a co-op experience helped her decide she wanted a career in the pulp and paper industry.
Following graduation, she worked at International Paper, Sappi Fine Paper and Eastern Fine Paper before landing at Verso Paper's Bucksport mill, where she managed the finished products division.
In January, Enos formally took over leadership of the foundation from Jack Healy, who is retiring this spring. She takes the reins just in time to implement a new five-year plan for the foundation approved by its board last fall.
"I really see this as my opportunity to give back," she says of the appointment. "I graduated college with zero debt [thanks to the foundation] and went right into a good-paying job in Maine. I feel very blessed to have had this career."
Mainebiz chatted with Enos about her new job via email and through a phone interview. The following is an edited transcript.
Mainebiz: How will you use your experience in private industry in your new role as president of UMPPF?
Carrie Enos: The perspective I bring to UMPPF is that of someone who has walked in the students' shoes as well as someone who has worked in industry and been in a position to hire both co-op and full-time engineers. That experience helps me to understand people's needs and how best the UMPPF can help to meet them.
MB: You are assuming leadership of the foundation just as it embarks on a new five-year plan. How are you setting priorities around that?
CE: Pulp and paper is a global industry, and it is my role to integrate the UMPPF with both the industry and the university. To that end, we want our scholarship recipients to be representative of that industry, including females, minorities and encompassing a broader geographical scope. I am becoming as involved as I can in events across the state and on campus to increase exposure to the industry and talk about all the wonderful opportunities it has to offer.
MB: Many folks in Maine perceive the pulp and paper industry as mature and in decline. How do you convince young engineering students that they can have a viable and rewarding career in it?
CE: There continues to be a tremendous demand for our graduates. For the last three years we have maintained 100% placement of UMPPF students upon graduation. UMaine engineering students are well respected, and as folks currently employed in pulp and paper retire there will continue to be a need for high-quality students to support the industry. The daily successes in our industry may not grab headlines, but progress continues and provides an opportunity to do what engineers love to do best — develop solutions to technical problems.
MB: Nurturing connections with private industry has always been a foundation priority. In addition to scholarships, internships and mentoring opportunities, are there other ways you hope to strengthen those relationships?
CE: UMaine can be a one-stop-shop for the industry, providing talented graduates for both co-op and full-time hires as well as research facilities to help companies continue to innovate and move forward. These are exciting times to be an engineer in pulp and paper, with opportunities to create something new as well as figure out different ways to make existing products.