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Sarah Briggs: Balancing Business and People

Alumni Sarah Briggs
Sarah Briggs ’11

For the past seven years, Sarah Briggs (Management; Marketing ’11) has been working for Quaker Houghton, an international specialty chemical company founded in 1918. Quaker Houghton is the leading manufacturer of industrial process fluids and has its headquarters in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania—Briggs’s hometown.

Sarah was hired as a facility supervisor in 2015 and has since become the senior manager of corporate sustainability. Sarah works with those around her to create positive change in their workplace. While business management has its challenges, she chooses to focus on what she can control. “It is challenging to deliver results on work you have no direct control over,” she said. “But I also love the intricacies of watching everything it takes to create a successful business.”

Acquiring the Necessary Skills

After graduating from high school, Sarah began looking for a college that met her needs. “I was looking for a solid Christian university that was reasonably priced,” she said. “I wanted to work my way through college without any debt.” She chose to attend Pensacola Christian College for its biblical worldview and affordability. There was one other benefit to attending PCC that appealed to Sarah: “It was a huge plus that it was so close to the world’s most beautiful beaches!”

“I was looking for a solid Christian university that was reasonably priced.”

As she worked through her degree, Sarah grew in her knowledge of the business world. Dr. Lonnie Smith taught her that doing business needed to be balanced with looking out for people—everyone doesn’t always share everything that they’re going through. “He always brought things down to earth and reminded us that not everything was as it seemed,” Sarah said. “I really appreciated his humble approach to business; it set the tone for my career.” Since receiving Dr. Smith’s advice, Briggs has chosen to remember that people are an important part of business.

During her junior year, Sarah received an opportunity to put into practice what she was learning in her business classes. She was selected to be the operations manager for PCC’s annual Turkey Bowl, a large event that showcases the women’s and men’s collegian soccer championships. At the time, the Turkey Bowl also featured a halftime show from guest performers such as trampoline stunt groups or motorcyclists. “Coordinating an event for 5,000–7,000 people was something I did not know how to do,” Sarah said. “It gave me great insights and experience learning how to manage different functions to create a successful outcome.”

Applying Skills and Growing in Her Field

In 2015, Sarah Briggs started working for Quaker Houghton. She pursued a management position early in her career there, and her love for people drove her to study how others worked together to accomplish a common goal. “I love understanding how each person is different and what it takes for them to succeed and grow,” she said. Her love for others comes from a love she received in her own life. “I receive love and grace daily while I don’t deserve it. Through Jesus’ love and sacrifice, He has taught me to love and extend grace to others.”

Sarah’s career hit a highlight when she was assigned to oversee the design and building of Quaker Houghton’s new global headquarters. The massive building project relied on some skills she learned at PCC that she had not yet been able to prove. These skills and her others-focused mindset meant she was able to complete the project. “I got it done on time with an aggressive deadline and kept the 300 people working happily,” she said.

As she grew in her corporate-world experience, Sarah strove to understand how business relationships worked. “Managing in a corporate setting does sometimes require technical experience, but the greatest challenge is managing people,” Sarah said. To continue growing in this area, she is currently working to get her M.B.A. with a leadership concentration.

“Don’t be scared to try new things and sometimes fail.”

Looking back, Sarah Briggs is thankful for the role that PCC played in developing her spiritually and professionally. She continues to learn more about the world she lives in and advises current students to boldly step out and learn. “Don’t be scared to try new things and sometimes fail,” she said. “Just do a good job with the right motives, love people, and keep on keeping on.”

Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.