Jan Heppe ’74: Choices ‘will define your life’s journey’

BGSU alumna ascended to top ranks of Gimbels and Burberry Ltd.

Jan Heppe

Bowling Green State University alumna and home economics program graduate Jan Heppe '74 addressed the Class of 2018 on December 15 at the Stroh Center.

Heppe advised graduate candidates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education and Human Development that choices "will define your life's journey." She said time will continue to pass by faster and faster, and "choices will be following you, plaguing you and rewarding you the rest of your life."

After graduating from BGSU in 1974 as a home economics major, her career has included various senior management positions in both department and specialty stores. These have included Gimbels and Burberry Ltd., a British international luxury brand. At Burberry Ltd., she had held the positions of senior vice president of retail, chief operating officer and president of the Americas Region.

"When I was requested to speak to you this morning, I had to ask myself 'Why me?'" Heppe said. "Yes, I am a proud graduate of BGSU, and, yes, I have had a wonderful career journey, but the real reason I am standing before you: experience. I have lived almost three times most of your life spans, and having been in your position, I know a little bit about what you will be facing as you leave the security of BGSU.

"Choices: They will precede, and follow you the rest of your life. Do not take them for granted. Do not take them lightly. Be thoughtful," she said. "Be willing to change them if needed. Do the very best within your power to do what is right."

Heppe is a director on the board of the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance and is the chair-elect for the Bowling Green Foundation Board of Trustees. In the spring, she will serve as an executive in residence for the University's Apparel Merchandising and Product Development program.

"I congratulate you for your tremendous accomplishment today and wish you the very best future you can imagine," Heppe said. "Realize this one moment in your life will never happen again — enjoy it!"