Denise Savoie, '80
At Whitman, I began to really appreciate how powerful logical, critical thinking could be when applied to working situations for which I had no experience — something that has stayed with me through my entire career. I started using this way of thinking about new experiences as a resident director, especially as I was given added responsibilities in the housing office. Critical thinking skills were an important focus of the small, liberal arts college that I attended at the University of Michigan (the Residential College), much as they are at Whitman. My time at Whitman allowed me to develop those skills in a real-life environment while still con-tinuing to study for the pure joy of learning.
At Whitman, I also learned how valuable well-articulated communication is when working with other people, especially smart, motivated individuals. As an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley high-tech startups, this has been extremely important to me. My experiences at Whitman gave me a lot of self-confidence about facing the world, and made me aware that it's okay (more than okay!) to say, "I don't know but I can find out."
— Denise Savoie, '80
For Denise Savoie, '80, Whitman was a second collegiate home. A graduate of the University of Michigan with an economics degree, she came to Whitman to serve as a resident director, and along the way earned a second degree, this time in art. With a practical mind and an artistic heart, she went on to 18 years of creative success in the field of technology.
Savoie was manager of systems and procedures for DHL Cargo early in her career and then held management posts at NetExpress, including director of software application development and director of ATM development. She
co-founded Whitetree Network Technologies, Inc., and served as vice president of business operations and CFO. In January 1998 she co-founded Turnstone Systems, Inc. Based in Santa Clara, California, the company produces systems that enable local exchange carriers to deploy and maintain high speed digital subscriber line services over existing copper telephone lines.
Savoie, who took the company public last June, has recently stepped down as vice president of business operations and CFO to stay at home with her two children.