From BG to the Big Apple

Graduate finds success far from Midwest roots

Manhattan’s Upper West Side is a place where life and commerce move at breakneck speeds. In contrast, nearby the spacious Central Park provides some solitude, and the opportunity to downshift from that frenetic environment.

Those surroundings are vastly different from Bowling Green, but nothing about living in New York City has intimidated Alison Wittenmyer, a 2012 graduate of the University and a Bowling Green native.

“I was born and raised in BG, and I loved going to school there, but all along I had this dream of one day living in the big city,” she said. “It made perfect sense to stay close, take advantage of the great programs Bowling Green offers, and build up a really strong foundation for my career ahead.”  

Wittenmyer received a bachelor’s degree from BGSU in Interior Design and General Business, and then earned a master’s in Design Management in 2014 from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She is currently a workplace consultant in the Big Apple for Steelcase, the largest office furniture manufacturer in the world.

“I knew I wanted to work in design, and also be in the business side of things, so this has been a great opportunity for me,” the 26-year-old said. “I work with design firms across the city, and the way Steelcase is set up, there are a lot of opportunities to bring my personality into my work.”

One of her primary functions is to collaborate with designers and assist them in grasping the breadth of the Steelcase line, and understanding all of the products and their applications in a variety of settings.

Steelcase, whose global headquarters are located in Grand Rapids, Mich., has facilities, offices and factories located around the world. Its products are used in offices, schools, hospitals and medical buildings, and retail industries.

“One of the challenges is that we offer so many products with so many applications, and you want to make sure the designers are aware of everything,” Wittenmyer said. “You want to show the variety of things we do.”

Wittenmyer said she worked at the Steelcase headquarters for the first four months after she was hired, and received very extensive training.

“It was a great way to get to know the company in detail,” she said.

Wittenmyer had accepted an offer to come work for Steelcase about eight months before completing graduate school, and with the expectation that she would be relocated following her orientation training.

“and sometimes it’s hard to believe I’m living a block from Central Park. I feel like saying: Pinch me, is this real?”

“They placed me here in New York,” she said, “and sometimes it’s hard to believe I’m living a block from Central Park. I feel like saying: Pinch me, is this real?”

On any given day, she might jump on the subway and head across town to a meeting.

“My role is to share our extensive research with our clients, and let them know how our products can make their business work more efficiently. A big trend right now is towards mobile workers, so we want to provide these clients with the capability to work from many places.”

Wittenmyer credits the faculty at BGSU with preparing her for the demands of the profession, and the relentless attention to detail it requires.

“I had many people at BG help me out by pushing me to the next step, mentoring me and helping ready me for grad school. I feel like I was prepared to work in the big city because I came away from my education with big goals, and the opportunity to achieve them,” she said.

Wittenmyer said living and working in New York has been both challenging and exciting, and that she felt like she was ready for whatever the big city threw her way.

“Each day is very different – nothing is the same as the day before – so you have to embrace that and challenge yourself daily,” she said. “I’m very comfortable with that, and I feel fortunate to be where I am.”