Though Bathsheba Sams (BSCHE 81) is not heavily using the chemical engineering degree toward her current position as a human resources director for International Paper, she wouldn’t be in that position without it.
Sams is the HR Director-Packaging for International Paper in Memphis. Her responsibilities include providing strategic human resources leadership for more than 100 facilities and more than 15,000 employees across the globe including the United States, Canada, Latin America, and in partnership with the HR directors in Europe and Asia.
Sams joined the forest products industry 23 years ago after graduating from the University of Mississippi with a BS in Chemical Engineering. She has held various positions in engineering, manufacturing, training/organization development, staffing, diversity and affirmative action/EEO.
“I was a process engineer for 2 years after graduating and moved to a manufacturing/operations position…. a natural career path,” Sams said. “I transitioned from a manufacturing /operations position to HR after progressing through several leadership positions in manufacturing.”
Sams said it was a personal decision. She had been constantly on call for 8 years and wanted more time with her family. When she made the transition, Sams was pregnant with her second child. She accepted a corporate level position in training and organizational development.
“They were looking for someone who had practical experience, not necessarily HR experience,” she says. “I’ve only looked back once. My engineering and manufacturing experiences have been tremendous assets to me over the years in my HR roles. I haven’t gained any more time with my family. I’ve just learned how to balance.”
For the past five years Sams has lead human resources for various business groups in International Paper, including serving as the HR director for the European region where she was based in Brussels, Belgium for two and a half years.
In addition to living in Brussels, her experiences have given her the opportunity to travel to: Singapore, Malaysia, India, Australia, Canada, Russia, Finland, Amsterdam, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Poland, France and Spain.
Sams is an alumna of Leadership Memphis, 2004, and currently serves as a mentor for Leadership Memphis’ “Seeking to Serve” program. In addition she is a mentor for NEXUS, a program sponsored by Second Presbyterian Church. Mentees are identified through MPACT.
“Ole Miss is a great institution and I owe a lot of my success to Dr. Anderson who believed in me and taught me the meaning of perseverance and ‘never give up’”, said Sams. “The information I receive as a member of the Alumni Association helps me to stay current with what’s happening on campus and with former classmates.”
Sams spends her free time with her family, husband and two sons in Collierville, Tenn.