The Serendipitous Cycle
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The Serendipitous Cycle
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By Sue Rigler

The Adventure Begins

On September 28, 2014 as I walked out of the restroom at Great Northern Brewery in Whitefish, MT, I noticed a lab across the hallway…beakers, microscope, stir plates, pH meter. My nerdy science-microbiologist inner self resurfaced at this “ah ha” moment, and along with my entrepreneur spirit and love for craft beer, led me to a mid-life career change. I applied to the University of California San Diego Brewing Certification program and was accepted in Spring 2015. I joined Pink Boots Society in 2016, bought myself a 1.5bbl system as a birthday/graduation present August 2017, graduated December 2017 and started my dream job with Krones, Inc. January 2018.

Sue & Alyssa Dunn UCSD classmates & PBS members

I knew zero people in the industry when I started classes and even less about brewing beer. What happened from that moment has been a mere avalanche of serendipitous connections. More than one person has told me I should write a book, or name a brewery, Serendipity. I love to engage in conversations with just about anyone and more times than not, I walk away with a take home message or saying, “OMG, did that really just happen?”

Sue with BJ Anderson & Coworker

Serendipity can also be seen when I reached out to my UCSD instructors for help with my search for a technical sales position. Yuseff Cherney of Cutwater Spirits, suggested I go to Drinktec in Munich for prime networking opportunities. With less than three week’s notice, and Yuseff’s generous help to find accommodations with his German friends, I boarded a plane to Munich. As a result, that is how I got my job with Krones…dropping my personal business card off in the massiveness of Hall B6. It eventually made its way to BJ Anderson, my current boss. Yes, I went all the way to Germany to find my dream job.

Who Knew? Teri Fahrendorf Rides Subways…In Munich!

Serendipity continues on the crowded subway in Munich, after a day at Drinktec. Hundreds of people packed in like sardines. I looked up and said to a woman near me, “Is your name Teri?” That Teri turned out to be our Pink Boots Society founder, Teri Fahrendorf! She looked just like her Facebook profile photo. We talked and walked to Taco Libre where the Munich Chapter was hosting their first meeting. I was graciously greeted by 12 other positive women who live in Germany. We have craft beer as a commonality. It was an amazing and welcoming experience after feeling quite alone in a foreign country. That is the when I truly felt the power of Pink Boots Society and led me to my volunteer position as the Collaboration Brew Day Coordinator. I was happy to assist Emily Engdahl, our Executive Director. Who would not want to work with someone funny, sassy and brilliant? I just wish we lived closer!

Sue Interning at McFate Brewing

From a Subway Ride to Collaboration Brew Day Coordinator

What started with helping Emily pin over 260 participating breweries in 10 countries in Google maps, has now developed into leading an entire team for 2019 Collaboration Brew Day. I can’t believe Emily did this all herself in years past! As I began to collect photos of the brew day, I looked at the consistency of the smiles, teamwork and passion for brewing in every photo. It literally gave me goosebumps and moved me to put together a slide show sharing the global effort of strength, unity and empowerment illustrated by the women of Pink Boots Society. Having gone through the process this year, I’ve documented what worked, some great ideas shared and what could be improved upon. I will make sure it’s available for participating breweries well before Brew Day 2019. I am very honored Emily and the entire Board of PBS put their confidence in me to lead this fun project for next year!

Sue w/ Andrew Fowler, LA Ale Works

A Little Insight Into My Dream Job & the Serendipitous Cycle

Krones has very few females in the field globally. I feel nothing but support and optimism from my Krones family. They are upbeat professionals who encourage me and my participation in Pink Boots Society. My job description is very unique within Krones in the fact that I’m the first hire in the world with the title ‘Sales & Market Segment Analyst’. This newly created job was based on my technical background, brewing knowledge and their need for a business development-type role. My ultimate responsibilities are a hybrid between sales and marketing. To keep my efforts focused, the Krones management team narrowed my day to day activities to breweries in Southern California and Arizona. I collect brewery operations and production data to see if there are noticeable trends and document our strengths and weaknesses in each region.

Krones Canning Machine

Yes, I get paid to engage in conversations about beer, and sometimes sample the product. I know, right?…as I smile. I was hired to keep the Krones big picture in mind with respect to their product lines and various beverage related market segments. In doing so, then recognize synergistic opportunities that arise out of being present in a conversation. Krones has an extremely large product line, but narrowing it down to the brewing industry, they manufacture brewhouses and tanks from 5bbl on up, canning and bottling lines, automation software and systems integration. I am so fortunate to have landed a job with such a reputable company, work with wildly intelligent people and have a boss who believes in my abilities and wants to see me succeed. I absolutely love what I do.I challenge myself to make change where change is needed, I don’t pass up once-in-a lifetime opportunities and I push myself out of my comfort zone. In doing so, it naturally leads me toward prodigious people who, in turn, challenge me to be a better, stronger person. It’s what I call a serendipitous cycle.

About the Author

Escape from Alcatraz 2018

Sue was destined for the beer industry. At the age of 10, she collected beer cans and wore a Budweiser t-shirt. Originally from Iowa, Sue lives in Manhattan Beach, CA where she raised 4 kids, one still living at home with her. She attended Arizona State University, received a degree in Microbiology and now sits on the LA/ASU Leadership Council. To officially immerse herself in the brewing industry, Sue commuted from LA to San Diego to attend UC San Diego’s Brewing program. Eager to learn how to brew, Sue set up her 1.5 bbl brewhouse in a garage in Tempe, AZ equipped with a walk-in cooler and a mini lab to come full circle with her micro background. When she is not out talking to breweries and crunching data for Krones, pinning Google Maps for Pink Boots, or seeking out a fresh IPA, she can be found in the pool or ocean, on a spin bike or out running along the strand. Sue is a veteran spin instructor of 19 years, and has completed multiple races, including Ironman Arizona and just this month, her second Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.



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