Victoria Berenholz

Good as Gold

A junior-year internship with consumer health powerhouse Johnson & Johnson helped Victoria Berenholz ’08 strike GOLD.

Berenholz, who graduated in May with an industrial engineering degree, saved Johnson & Johnson hundreds of thousands of dollars during her 2006-07 internship, which she refers to as her “semester abroad across the Delaware River” in Skillman, N.J.

The company was so impressed that it brought Berenholz on board in July under its Global Operations Leadership Development (GOLD) program, designed to create future leaders.

Under the program, she will serve three eight-month rotations, working in at least two of Johnson & Johnson’s three business sectors—pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and medical devices—as well as in at least two of three different business functions—operations, engineering, and quality.

“My goal from the GOLD program is to get some more breadth of exposure by learning about the various business functions and business sectors that I did not have exposure to during my co-op experience,” Berenholz says.

Working with the health-care company has other benefits, as well.

“I have cotton swabs to last a lifetime, as well as body wash and Band-Aids and a lot of other products,” she quips.

In addition to her Johnson & Johnson internship, Berenholz clearly made the most of her Lehigh years. She was named student of the year by the industrial engineering department three years in a row, and presided over the industrial engineering honors society her senior year. Her independent research project, which was completed with Christopher Barrett ’08, received third place in an undergraduate research symposium.

Her Lehigh experiences prepared her to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the internship.

Berenholz saved Johnson & Johnson hundreds of thousands of dollars during her 2006-07 internship, which she refers to as her “semester abroad across the Delaware River” in Skillman, N.J.

Berenholz spent the fall 2006 semester and the following summer—a total of almost eight months—at Johnson & Johnson as part of Lehigh’s engineering cooperative education program. She started out working in the skin and wound care department, where she led a project team formed to create a distribution center on the West Coast.

By employing a model she learned in class, Berenholz reduced the lead time by 75 percent and cut costs by $300,000.

The following summer, she worked in the company’s baby supplies division, under Lehigh alumna Joanne Strout ’99, a senior supply chain planner.

“She performed extremely well,” Strout says. “I was sad to see her go. She took a lot of initiative and she excelled.”

As a senior, Berenholz wanted to expand her knowledge of industrial engineering from health care to finance. So in the fall 2007 semester, she and Barrett conducted a research project for the financial services firm Morgan Stanley. Their work was advised by Aurelie Thiele, professor of industrial engineering.

The students compared two methods that portfolio managers use to minimize risk associated with different investment portfolios. The simpler method minimizes all variance from the expected return, even unexpected gains. The other, more complicated, method penalizes a portfolio only when it falls below the expected return.

Through their research, the students discovered that the investments made using the two methods were very similar—too similar to recommend using the more complicated one.

Berenholz and Barrett presented their results to a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, Wilson Yale ’73, ’75 M.S., ’78 Ph.D., in January. This spring, their project won third prize at the David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“What has impressed me with Victoria is that she’s learned very quickly about finance,” Thiele says. “A key sign of students who are going to do well in the workforce is that, no matter what you throw at them, they will be able to understand it quickly.”

Berenholz also seeks ways to give back to the community. At Lehigh, she volunteered with the Healthy Hawks, educating students about nutrition and exercise, and helped with community outreach programs, such as the annual Spring Fling, which welcomes neighborhood children to campus for games and food.

To give back to the industrial engineering department, Berenholz presided over Lehigh’s chapter of the national industrial engineering honors society, Alpha Pi Mu. As last year’s president, she spearheaded a meet-and-greet for first-year engineers to encounter current industrial engineering (IE) faculty and students.

“It was important for us, because many people are unaware of IE,” says Nicholas Odrey, professor of industrial engineering and the group’s faculty adviser. “Many people are aware that mechanical engineers design and build various things, including cars; civil engineers design and build bridges; and electrical engineering has many things that go snap, crackle, pop. IE is more nebulous—we build integrated systems.”

Both Odrey and Thiele predict that Berenholz will excel in the business world.

Thiele says, “She is someone who is apart from the crowd.”

—Becky Straw