Pictured: Annie outside the Biosynthetic Technologies lab
When Chicago native and chemical engineering major Annie Hynes began her senior year at University of Notre Dame in 2018, she wasn’t sure what career she’d pursue after graduation. By the time she walked across the stage at commencement, though, her next two years were set: Annie had accepted an Orr Fellowship. That meant she’d have a full-time job and a whole lot more. Orr Fellowship supports young professionals with a community of peers and opportunities for continued learning and community involvement.
As a senior at Notre Dame, Annie had already explored career options within her major. “I had interned in research at a biotech company in college, but I wasn’t convinced that engineering was the right place,” she said. Orr Fellowship gave Annie a chance to learn about all areas of a business, which appealed to her curiosity. “The Fellowship is two years to explore, to get new experiences and figure out what you want to do — and I liked that,” she said. At Finalist Day, the last step of Orr’s application process, Annie and her fellow candidates interviewed with a handful of Orr’s dozens of Partner Companies — including The Heritage Group (THG).
Annie had no idea what to expect going into her interview with THG, but she was “happily surprised that Heritage had both science and engineering opportunities as well as business opportunities,” she said. The interviewers from THG, Matt Kriech and Kierstin Janik, were happy with Annie, too. Orr Fellowship matched her with THG for three eight-month rotations.
Exploring Heritage Companies
Annie’s first rotation began in June 2019 with Biosynthetic Technologies (BT), which had been recently acquired by The Heritage Group. Her degree in chemical engineering translated well to her research work with Biosynthetic, where she circulated samples to generate interest in the company’s capabilities.
Recognizing the benefits of the company was easy. “With The Heritage Group, you’re being backed by the security of a 90+ year old company, but you still get innovative entrepreneurial experiences from a startup as well,” Annie said.
“Annie reacted quite well to the challenges of an early-stage company, which can be chaotic to say the least,” commented COO Matt Kriech, Annie’s supervisor at BT. “She worked with a diverse team to create technical data packages that greatly accelerated our time to market by reducing the amount of technical development our manufacturers had to do.”
For her second rotation, Annie relocated to Houston, Texas, to work as a production engineer with Monument Chemical. Orr Fellows are typically based in Indianapolis, so Annie’s time in Houston was unique. “I had never worked at a plant before, so that was my introduction to manufacturing, and I loved it,” Annie said.
“Usually, when we get someone that new out of school, they focus on one area until they’re comfortable,” said Operations Manager Jake Moehring, Annie’s supervisor at Monument. “Annie made it a point to branch out and take the opportunity to get involved with as much as she could.”
In March of 2020, Annie and many of her co-workers at Monument went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the new virtual environment, she developed experience in the manufacturing field by monitoring production processes using automatic data collection from the plant. “I was still using my degree, but in a way I didn’t really know was possible,” Annie said. “I liked the creativity of the work and I loved my team there, so it was a really positive experience.”
During each of Annie’s rotations, her Heritage leaders made a difference. “I was given a lot of responsibility off the bat because of how much my managers trusted me and believed in me,” she said. “I liked the ability to make an impact early on in my career.”
Annie’s experience echoes other young professionals who are met with trust and responsibility when they join the Heritage family. For example, “I make it a point to treat our college interns as close as possible to a full-time new hire engineer,” Jake said. “I want them to be engaged and exposed to all areas of the plant to get a real taste of the role so they can make a good decision for their career path.”
Annie’s third and final rotation was completely remote, so she spent her final eight months of the Fellowship working from home in Chicago. Annie worked as a financial analyst for Heritage Environmental Services’ accounting and finance department, an area new to her academically and professionally. “To get that experience in accounting and finance was really beneficial to any job I might have in the future,” she said. “It’s nice to have a well-rounded picture of how our businesses operate from end to end. That has definitely benefited me, even in my current role in engineering.”
Joining the Heritage team
After her Orr Fellowship ended, Annie became one of the 57% of Fellows who stay with their Partner Companies by accepting an offer from Asphalt Materials, Inc. to work as a manufacturing engineer. Her work is primarily remote, but she travels to locations where J-Band is produced in Illinois and Indiana. “The work I do now is more like production planning and working out the kinks,” she said. “With some of our products, there are unique obstacles that I can help troubleshoot, which can be done remotely.”
Annie was one of The Heritage Group’s first two Fellows, but she is far from the last. THG has hired two Fellows from the class of 2020 and two from the class of 2021, and three more Fellows joined the Heritage family after their graduation in May 2022.
THG’s Early Career Talent Specialist, Lexie Seward, was an Orr Fellow at another Partner Company before joining the Heritage family. “Orr Fellows’ eagerness to participate in a wide range of experiences allows us to be creative with the rotations and make sure we fit company need with a Fellow’s interests,” Lexie said. “Overall, Orr Fellows bring curiosity and adaptability to THG. Because they’re agile and hungry for experience, there’s no limit to what they can do here.”