Dagny Bloom Palmer ’21 is bringing her passion for sustainability and social responsibility to one of the biggest sportswear companies in the world

Although she had long been passionate about working in the outdoor industry, Dagny Bloom Palmer ’21 was unsure exactly the direction she wanted to take with her career when she first began as an undergraduate student at Lees-McRae. That changed when she took a course on corporate social responsibility during her junior year. At that point Palmer, who majored in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Outdoor Recreation Management, said her entire perspective shifted.

“When I took the class, we learned about the ethics of business. We were talking about all the impacts that businesses have on the environment and how every choice you make has some outcome, whether it be good or bad. I was learning about the impacts that these companies like Nike have on the environment, and I knew I wanted to be part of the change. That class really just changed my whole perspective on business,” Palmer said. “After my junior year I knew I wanted to do corporate social responsibility in business, and then I saw that there was this design program at SCAD that had a sustainability focus.”

After graduating from Lees-McRae, Palmer immediately enrolled in the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and began studying in their Design for Sustainability MFA program. Not only was the program a perfect combination of Palmer's love for the outdoor industry and the business and marketing expertise she had gained throughout her time at Lees-McRae, but it expanded on the principles of sustainability and responsible community that she gained while at Lees-McRae.

As one of the four Core Strategies in the college’s strategic plan, INEXPRO 2030, the concept of “responsible community” is a vital part of the education students gain while at Lees-McRae. With that foundational knowledge and a passion for improving the world around her, Palmer has been able to realize her dream of making the world a better place. As she heads into the professional market, she plans to use this expertise to help improve business practices and spearhead more sustainable strategies.

While at SCAD Palmer completed an internship with Salomon, a French sports equipment manufacturer. There she worked as a bag designer and did trial runs and lifestyle analyses of vests and bags that the company sells to their primarily European market. Now, with her newly minted MFA and the foundational knowledge she carries from her time at Lees-McRae, Palmer is already integrating her new design expertise into her professional playbook and using her unique combination of skills and experience to work toward her dream career as a product line manager.

The product line manager role bridges the gaps between the design, commercial, and marketing aspects of product-based businesses, combining each of Palmer's areas of expertise. Similarly to Palmer's academic career, this role also has a sustainability focus. Through her trial runs of different materials and products, Palmer helps companies better understand the way their products and business practices impact the environment.

Prior to interning with Salomon, Palmer said she had no idea what a product line manager was, but now having that experience under her belt and understanding the ways the role combines sustainability, design, and marketing, she knows that she is prepared thanks to her academic background in both business and design. By having experience and training in both aspects Palmer said she has an edge in the job market.

“My business degree helped me a lot at SCAD, because a lot of designers don’t really have that business background to see the practicality of their designs. It helped me bring a fresh perspective to that,” she said. “Designers have to work with the commercial side and marketers to help convey the product to the consumer, and if you have someone who sees both sides and can bridge that gap to help tell the story of the product, then they’re going to get the job every time.”

Palmer has already begun to reap the professional benefits of seeing both sides by landing a post-graduate internship with Puma at their motorsport department headquarters in Germany. Throughout the internship Palmer will work directly under the company’s product line manager as an intern, an experience she plans to turn into a full-time job with the company once the six-month internship position is complete.

While the course that first opened her eyes to corporate social responsibility helped lead her down the path toward her current career, Palmer said there were many more players in her time at Lees-McRae who helped her strengthen her self-confidence, knowledge, and professionalism, and gave her the tools to succeed in graduate school and beyond.

“Lees-McRae helped me grow up and become a professional. The school and the professors have been mentors and I constantly talk to them. Them rooting for you from the day you’re a freshman and years beyond, even after you leave Lees-McRae, and being your biggest supporters is the biggest thing I have taken from Lees-McRae.” Palmer said. “This applies to everything in life, but especially at Lees-McRae, you’re always going to get out of it what you put into it. I think I put all the right things into it because it continues to help me even now. All of them truly want to see you win, beyond getting good grades and seeing you graduate. They want to see you do well in life, which is really special.”

By Maya JarrellJune 06, 2024