NEA Women in Business: Suzanne Allen

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 477 views 

Suzanne Allen
Camfil, Director of Finance

Residence: Jonesboro
Education: B.S., accounting, Arkansas State University; M.S.E., educational leadership, ASU; Ed.S, superintendency, ASU
Professional background: Allen has been the director of finance for Camfil Air Pollution Control since 2017. Prior to that, she served as the city of Jonesboro finance director and worked for the Hoxie School District.

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

Growing up, my love of animals prompted me to dream of being a veterinarian. However, my disdain of needles changed my mind by the time I became college bound!

What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far?

I manage multi-million dollar budgets for a living, but the most fulfilling accomplishments come from using my financial knowledge to do good for others. Writing and receiving competitive grants for the public school system was always rewarding because the results were so tangible. I wrote grants that helped schools refurbish libraries, build tornado shelters, install playgrounds, add accelerated math/reading courses and obtain physical education equipment. Knowing that you have made an impact to better the lives of children is a rewarding feeling.

What advice would you give young women who are at the beginning of their careers?

Don’t underestimate the power of connections. Take opportunities to network with peers and get to know your community. You never know when a door may open. Don’t forget to look beyond your front porch. There are so many job opportunities in the world that you may not have even thought to explore. Reach out to career counselors and explore internships. The possibilities are endless.

Suzanne Allen.

Of all the mentors in your professional career, who has been the most influential and why?

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin taught me about not just managing finances but negotiating with people and managing the world that goes along with finances. He shared successful business strategies that he learned throughout his life and taught me the importance of keeping a positive attitude through the most stressful times. Mayor Perrin had a way of turning complex issues into a simple analogy that just made sense.

How do you spend your time away from work? What are your hobbies?

There hardly seems to be such a thing, but as my kids have moved to college, I have returned to my passion of horse riding, and of course spending time with my extended family.

What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to know about you?

I am a country girl at heart. I was raised riding horses, wading creeks and spending time with whatever animals we were raising at the time.

Can you share what you have learned about your business from the COVID-19 pandemic?

It’s possible to be productive in a virtual environment. We not only have endured COVID but lost our entire facility to the March tornado. Great focus can overcome many problems.

What’s your favorite app at the moment?

Duolingo and Sonic — always half-price drinks.

If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it?

Retire to a Barndominium, enjoy a long vacation on a Montana ranch with beautiful sunsets, [and] live long enough to see my grandchildren graduate high school.

What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on?

I am very fortunate to work at Camfil, a large, global company whose mantra is “Clean Air: A Human Right.” Top level management not only believe in caring for the earth, but also the people who inhabit it. With that being said, my next career challenge would be to stay within the company and take on a more global role.

What character traits do you feel have benefited you in your success?

Work ethic and determination. My dad expected me to work as soon as I became old enough and taught me a strong work ethic. I begin to set goals and work toward them with a fierce determination to succeed.

What’s your biggest passion and why?

Solving problems for both my job and those I care about is something near and dear to my heart. Whether it is maneuvering a path to achieve a budget or setting objectives for my college age children, identifying issues and finding solutions continues to be a strong passion.

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