Written by Victoria Bennett
Lynn Utter, CEO of First Source, recently visited the Honors Lyceum course attended by all Business Honors sophomores. In a lively conversation driven by student questions, Lynn shared her experiences navigating the business world as a woman and her path to her current success.
Lynn began her academic and professional career as a student on the Forty Acres. She is Business Honors Program alum, so she was once in the same position as the sophomores in the class, and she encouraged students to both maximize and enjoy their time in the program. After her time at UT, Lynn took the next step in her education at Stanford Business School where she earned her Master’s in Business Administration. She then began her professional career as a manager at Strategic Planning Associates in DC.
As she walked the class through her path to the role of CEO, Lynn revealed that her career path has been defined by tough decisions. She emphasized the importance of knowing what decisions are best for yourself, as she shared the story of her move to Denver during her time with the Frito Lay Company. Despite the fact that first position she took did not immediately advance her career, she knew it was the right career step for her at the time, and eventually led to her position as Area Vice President. Lynn’s story is full of these kind of decisions, as she pivoted through numerous leadership roles. Following her time at Frito Lay/PepsiCo Lynn worked at Coors Brewing Company both in Operations and as a Chief Strategy Officer and Knoll as a President and Chief Operations Officer, all preceding her time as CEO at First Source.
In her time as CEO of First Source, a US leader in packaging and distribution of specialty candy and snacks, Lynn led the company through mergers and managed full strategic and operating responsibility. Most recently, she transitioned into the role of Chief Talent Officer of Atlas Holdings LLC, where she works closely with the company’s partners and portfolio company leaders.
Throughout the session students were curious to hear Lynn’s advice and asked numerous questions about her biggest challenges and lessons. She talked about the importance of finding community in the workplace and she described the close bond she had with the other women in her office. In this conversation, she emphasized the importance of not only finding coworkers or peers who will support you, but also give you honest and critical feedback when necessary. She shared about her experience on numerous boards outside of her job, including the boards for WESCO, Merchants Metals, and numerous non-for-profit boards. In reference to these experiences, she encouraged Business Honors students to find work they are passionate about despite their busy schedules.
With her lively personality and years of experience and wisdom, Lynn Utter created a fun and informative class experience for the sophomores. Students loved hearing from a fellow BHP alum, and were inspired by her and her work.