When Brittney Lewis got a dream job offer from Apple Inc., she got ready to say goodbye to her home state. Then Bluewater Technologies came along with something even better than California dreaming. The 245-employee (and growing) company creates event and trade show displays and moving live event and technology experiences for strong brands including General Motors Co., Samsung, Key Bank, Quicken Loans and many more heavy hitters across an array of industries.
“This is so collaborative, so organized, so raw. I could not wait to dig my hands into it to help,” says Lewis, 31. “It’s a place where I felt I could make a big impact. I could help improve people’s day- to- day lives, help ideas flourish, and deliver the clients’ vision.”
Four years later, Lewis isn’t the only one making an impact at Bluewater in Southfield, Michigan. She has helped recruit and hire 10 more employees with Northwood ties, including a pair of current interns.
“It’s kind of become a joke: ‘Oh, there’s another Northwood alum working here. Aren’t there other universities out there?’” laughed Lewis, who is director of the Project Management Office.
Lewis has brought on four women who, like her, were members of the Alphi Chi Omega sorority.
“A lot of people who went to Northwood are referred to here as rock stars,” she said. “There’s a difference. There’s a differentiating characteristic with an NU alum. It’s a mixture of gumption, tenacity, and vigor all rolled into one that makes an amazing employee. They all bring something amazing to the table that is paramount to the success we are having as a company right now. And the exciting thing is we just started pushing the accelerator. We have big goals and the right people along for the ride.”
It’s the kind of work Lewis honed as events chair for the Northwood University International Auto Show and as vice president of communications and membership for Alpha Chi Omega. She has a 2008 bachelor’s degree from Northwood in marketing, advertising and management and a 2013 master’s degree from Walsh College in Troy, Michigan.
“Whenever I see people interview here, they say the people here are so cool, it feels like family,” Lewis said.
“Once you start working at Bluewater, you hear things like, ‘This is so different. I can’t believe you guys thought of that. Wow, that was a ride. How did you pull that off?’ Most of our projects are not daisies and butterflies. They’re a challenge. We’re trailblazing. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and dig in and take a crack at something new, this is exactly where you need to be.”
Having interviewed numerous hires over the years, Lewis said the Northwood students stand out in the best way.
“When Northwood students interview, it is obvious they are a caliber above the rest, from the way they carry themselves to the manner in which they answer and ask questions,” Lewis said. “They’re polished, and they’re practiced. There are no fillers. It’s succinct.”
Northwood’s classrooms — where students interview in front of the class and accept critiques, ask insightful questions and review realworld scenarios with professors — help prepare students for job interviews.
“The presentations and projects seem so stressful in the moment, but the experience and the feedback you gain carries you miles further than other candidates for the job,” Lewis said.
“I chose to stay here in Michigan,” says Lewis. “The opportunities to make a positive impact are endless. I love the challenge and opportunity to help our area because of the powerhouse it once was and more. Bluewater is the place enabling me to do that. I never have the same day here, ever. There is always something different going on. It’s an incubator for creativity and improvement. You have people who listen to you, agree to take on your ideas, help them, and make them become a reality.”
Header photo caption: Northwood President and CEO Keith A. Pretty (center) presented Bluewater Technologies with the university’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. Pictured from left to right are Nicole Gabridge, Victor George IV, Andrew Hanagan, Hannah Hayes, Melissa Phillips, Brittney Lewis, and Andrea Hlavaty.