April 28, 2017
Spencer Ferguson grew up in Martinsburg, West Virginia. He was one of five brothers and had four step-sisters. And to say the 2004 graduate of the MBA program in the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics understands the meaning of community is an understatement.
“I have a really large family, and that’s what really shaped who I am today,” he said. “Growing up in West Virginia, everyone was friendly to everyone. You could talk to anybody and just having that closeness [was important.] Once you move somewhere else, you’re starting all over, you’re starting from scratch. I think that ability to just be able to communicate and be friendly, that’s really what it amounts to. It helps you transition when you move from place to place.”
And that sense of community has been his driving force. Today, Ferguson lives in Minnesota and is a general supervisor for General Motors in Hudson, Wisconsin. He is responsible for inventory control and business risk management for the facility.
But the Hudson, Wisconsin, facility is not Ferguson’s stop with General Motors. He has enjoyed a 19-year-long career with the automotive company, beginning with a processing facility as a contractor in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in 1996 and moving into a permanent role in 1998. He then spent some time in Columbus, Ohio.
“We had an ACDelco facility in Columbus, Ohio. It was a little bit of a different operation than the processing center, but basically the same setting,” he said. “We ship to service dealers in our region. I did inbound and outbound and inventory control functions and business risk.”
But while working with General Motors at the Martinsburg location, Ferguson, a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in economics, made the decision to further his education and earn an MBA.
“I was just looking for some more training, some more education. The field that I was actually in – economics, accounting and finance – there is some aspect of that in General Motors,” he said. “What I was doing at that time, it didn’t really relate to it. I wanted more of a business background.”
Ferguson said the MBA cohort program at WVU was the right fit for him, saying he gained valuable knowledge not only from his professors, but also his classmates.
“You start and finish with the same group of people, so you’re able to get to know the people in your class. It was a cross-functional group of people that were working toward this degree. You had people from all different walks and careers. You had one that was an attorney. One that was a general manager of a Budweiser distribution center. One was a plant manager at a manufacturing company,” he said. “And you actually had to share your current work experiences because there were a lot of times we would sit down and discuss – ‘How do things work at your job or within your company?’ and some of those experiences and some of those types of interactions are very valuable.”
After years of dedication to the automotive company, Ferguson considers this current point in his career to be his greatest professional accomplishment. He was named Supervisor of the Year during his first year as a supervisor in 1999. He also believes his education has pushed his career forward with GM.
“Most of the general public knows General Motors went through the bankruptcy, and those were trying times for a career. With the skillset that I had and the background and education – when it came time to look at who you’re going to keep when you start downsizing, it was good to have all that stuff behind me,” Ferguson said. “I made it through a plant closing and made it through a bankruptcy, so I would like to think that my experience and my credentials, being my education, were the things that kind of helped keep me valuable to the company.”
But more importantly than his education, Ferguson credits his mother with his triumphs, saying she set the best example and really laid the foundation for his life.
“My mother has had a real great impact on my life. She was a single parent, and all five of us brothers graduated with undergrads and graduated with master’s degrees, which is pretty tough. So, she’s really had the biggest impact on me,” he said. “Seeing some of the things she went through in her career kind of helped me make the decisions that I made when I was actually going to school and picking out a job.”
When he’s not at work, you can find Ferguson golfing, traveling and spending time with his wife, Heather, and their two sons, Owen and Carter, whom he considers to be his greatest accomplishments when it comes to his personal life.