Doing the right thing

Michelle (Butcher '93) Meszaros-Stuttgen

Majors: business administration, social work
Director of strategy and financial planning and analysis, Burt's Bees, Durham, N.C.

Michelle Meszaros-StuttgenMichelle (Butcher) Meszaros-Stuttgen says "I've always been fascinated with how you do the right thing in business."

The Lyons, Ohio, native was exposed to it in theory at Bluffton, where she recalls Bill Lyons, now assistant professor emeritus of business, doing case studies about putting "the people side" into business and doing right.

Now she sees it in practice as an executive at Burt's Bees, the North Carolina-based company known for its natural, environmentally friendly personal-care products.

Getting started.

Meszaros-Stuttgen's first experience on Bluffton's campus was as a teenager attending a Christian youth camp. She returned as a college student because she wanted to double major in business and social
work, and play volleyball, which she did for two years.

She came to campus thinking of becoming a hospital administrator involved with patient relations. Visiting her cousin in California after graduating in 1993, she sought several jobs and was hired to start a patient relations program at Marin General Hospital, near San Francisco.

Transitioning to business.

Near the end of her four years at the hospital, she moved into its finance office, "and I really liked it," Meszaros-Stuttgen says. She then decided to interview with Oakland-based Clorox and, in 1998, started there as a cost analyst.

Over the next decade, she held various positions with the company in Miami, Dallas and Cincinnati; earned a master's degree in international business from the University of Miami in 2002; married her husband
Roderick—whom she met at a Bluffton classmate's wedding—in 2004; and had their two sons, Broderick and Bryce, in 2005 and 2008.

In 2007, Clorox acquired Burt's Bees. The companies' joint leadership team wanted to add Clorox executives in some areas of Burt's—including finance—and in April 2009, Meszaros-Stuttgen was asked to make the switch, which she hasn't regretted.

The buzz at Burt's.

"We really walk the talk," the Raleigh, N.C., resident says about Burt's Bees, which landfills no waste from its plant and aims to use all renewable energy and natural ingredients in its products.

"The employees are all attuned to environmental sustainability," she adds. Each year, they "live the greater good" by building a Habitat for Humanity house and otherwise helping in the community or learning more about the environment, she explains. Burt's Bees even bases part of their year-end bonuses, she notes, on their proper disposal of trash at its headquarters.

Returning to her roots.

In addition to Lyons, Meszaros-Stuttgen credits as influential her Bluffton volleyball coach, Kim Fischer, and other coaches she met while a student employee in the athletics department. They "always
did the right thing," too, she points out, so her experience at Burt's Bees feels like a natural extension of her college experience.

"It's definitely rooted a lot in what I learned at Bluffton," she says.