Bridget Coffing (BS 1976, Consumer & Family Journalism) addressed the crowd at the UW-Madison Corporate Open House last month as the event’s keynote speaker. The open house was a day-long event designed to create opportunities for companies to connect with campus units and departments and explore potential collaborations and industry partnerships. Bridget was happy to be back at her alma mater as she shared with the attendees, “This campus has been a huge part of my life and my career.”
Bridget has been at McDonald’s for most of her professional life but remembered the company being a big part of her personal life while growing in Wisconsin and attending college here. In fact, the Quarter Pounder was introduced as a product when she was a freshman at UW-Madison, the first Ronald McDonald House debuted during her sophomore year, and breakfast showed up on the menu (and the first drive thru was built!) when she was a junior. Although she has lived in the Chicago-area for over thirty years now, she wants to reassure us all that she is still a Packers fan.
As part of her role, Bridget is also the Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations. She has a lot of experience building partnerships with higher ed institutions and had some advice for the crowd. She wants to flip around the old adage “knowledge is power” and make it “Power is knowledge shared.” She encouraged the companies and organizations in the audience to collaborate and partner up with campus teams to make positive, meaningful changes that are not only profitable but also meet the challenges and needs of our society – changes that help communities.” She sited the example of McDonald’s working with partners to bring healthier items to their menu. Did you know that McDonald’s is now the largest purveyor of apples?!
Bridget advised companies and organizations to have a long-term mindset and to continuously deepen their relationships with the university. She warned against partnerships that are just technology transfers. On the contrary, she thinks ” . . . ideas and innovation come from the relationships that transform partners in ways they didn’t even imagine.”
We were delighted and proud to have a SoHE alumna representing all that the university has to offer in potential partnerships. After all, she believes UW-Madison ” . . . produces students who are well-prepared and can hit the ground running.” We tend to agree with her.