Dana Gerle Clemens

MBA '97

Vice President of Operations
PodPonics

What do you do professionally?

I am the V.P. of operations at PodPonics, LLC. We offer a distributed approach to growing fresh produce year-round at or near the point of consumption using hydroponics technology and monitoring and optimization technology. Our proprietary system reduces cost, improves quality, and creates local jobs while answering the strong and growing demand for locally-produced natural whole foods.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Because there is so much opportunity for growth, change and improvement is constant. The implications for me are that with very little effort, I can implement major change that has significant bottom line impact.
 
What is the biggest challenge you face?

Technology is easy compared to managing people and customers. My biggest challenge is finding the right people to grow with the company at the right time. The biggest challenge our company faces is communicating that we really are better. Over 90% of lettuce in the U.S. is born in California. This means for east coasters, your lettuce spends five days marinating in a truck. Our product tastes like it was grown in your backyard…because it really was. 

PodPonics photo PodPonics photo

What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?

The most interesting place I've been exposed to since my time at PodPonics is the inside of a water tank. We recirculate our water, and sometimes it is necessary to go inside the tank and investigate issues. Seriously though, I expect travels to Dubai, Japan, and Oman as we expand.
 
What is the best professional advice you've received?

"Build your network when you don't need it, so it can catch you when you need it." My classmate and friend David Sibilsky shared this wisdom.

Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?

The same job, but with fewer hours, at a more convenient time, predictable, without surprises, and faster. On second thought, would that be boring?

What do you like to do outside of work?

That's easy.  I want to spend every extra hour with my amazing four-year old, Austin. Being a mom is the most important job I've ever had. It is way easier to go to work than to stay at home and raise a future Fuqua Scholar on a full-time basis.

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?

I did not come from a sports family, so basketball games were new to me. I remember watching several basketball games and noticing how the basketball team would rally around Coach K, and listen intensely as a team. The learning is that it is more important to build a team, than to recruit strong individuals.

Who was your favorite professor?

J. B. Mazzola was our Operations professor.On the first day of class, he just walked in and didn't introduce himself. So I asked him "What would you like us to call you?" His response, "J.B." To me this is another example of Team Fuqua, it isn't about titles, it is about learning. Everyone respected him. You earn respect through your actions, not through your title.

What is your favorite Fuqua memory?

When Fuqua Vision played a prank on the school and filled the burritos with Velveeta cheese (nothing else), and filmed peoples' reactions. 

What does Team Fuqua mean to you? 

I learned just as much outside the classroom as inside the classroom. Learning is about both the process and the knowledge. We gained knowledge in the classroom, but learned about how it really worked from our teams.