By Jennifer Erb
Jim Saurborn came to WVU thinking he would become a lawyer. Since WVU didn’t have a pre-law program, Jim decided to pursue an engineering degree. Originally he was thinking about Electrical or Mechanical Engineering, but chose Industrial Engineering since it seemed more practical.
Jim comes from a blue collar family and had to work two jobs to afford college. Even though he had a .80 GPA his first semester sophomore year, he never doubted his ability to be a successful engineer.
When Jim graduated, he discovered that some starting Law School graduates made less than starting engineering graduates. He abandoned his Law School plans and sought a job in manufacturing.
Jim’s career got off to a rocky start. He got laid off three times due to struggles in traditional manufacturing. But one of these jobs gave Jim the opportunity to work under a great mentor. “This was where I learned a lot about how to get things done,” Jim says.
Jim’s career moved from manufacturing to retail as a result of the changing national economy. Over the next 10 years, Jim worked for well-known retail establishments such as Kmart and Sears. It was at Kmart where he got a lot of leadership experience and was able to design his own engineering organization.
At Burlington Stores, Jim has a number of responsibilities including supply chain engineering, strategy, analytics, reporting, financial planning, and procurement of everything Burlington buys that is not actually sold in the stores (e.g. utilities, bags, advertising, even the corporate jet.)
Jim sees a great opportunity for engineers in the retail industry. “We need the analytical thinking skills and work ethics that engineering graduates have.”
James Saurborn is an experienced executive in the retail sector of the American economy. In his current position, Saurborn has responsibility for indirect procurement, supply chain engineering, strategy, analytics, reporting and financial planning.
Prior to his current employment, he worked for Sears Holding, Limited Brands, and Kmart.
Saurborn began his career in manufacturing holding jobs with Kayser-Roth, Lenox Crystal, and Masland Industries.