Bryce Freeman can be described in many ways, but three words best capture his essence: determination, motivation, and dedication. These traits, along with many memorable milestones and strong family values, have guided Freeman on an impressive journey that has led him far from the place he once called home.
After growing up in Ames and going to Iowa State University, Freeman now finds himself a thousand miles away, living in Columbia, Maryland, working for Procter & Gamble (P&G). But after talking with him about his successes, it’s clear that no matter where his career takes him, he will always carry with him pieces of his Iowa roots.
Determination at a young age
For some college students, the first years of school are spent exploring different classes and careers. Freeman, on the other hand, found his calling early.
Attending school in Ames provided him with many life-changing events that he says led him to where he is now. No, playing for the state basketball championship with Fred Hoiberg was not the biggest defining moment of his past. But Freeman does consider it to be unique, and something he says he won’t ever forget.
We have to go back to his middle school years, where Freeman says he had that one, significant moment that set his course. “I had a very positive experience at career day in seventh grade. That’s where I heard if you like math and science, then engineering is a good career path,” explains Freeman. During career day, he was matched up with a career mentor from the Iowa Department of Transportation. After seeing first-hand the work of an engineer, he was hooked.
Determined to become an engineer, Freeman began considering which field would be best. That revelation came to him while he was in high school. Thanks to a “tremendous chemistry teacher,” his love for chemistry grew until he knew chemical engineering was in his future.
These experiences were coupled with parents who Freeman says have been the most influential people in his life. A father who taught math and science encouraged his love for the disciplines, and his mother’s work educating patients about diabetes as a registered nurse showed him the importance of being a strong leader. “I have really admired my parents for what they do and who they are, so they have had a huge influence on my life,” he says.
Motivation at Iowa State
As a freshman at Iowa State on a full-ride scholarship, Freeman remembers he was eager to enrich his college experience with other activities. “I am forever grateful that I decided to go to Iowa State,” Freeman says. “No other campus offers the tremendous balance of a great education, particularly in engineering, and all the student leadership opportunities.”
Freeman was diligent with his classwork and was also involved in activities across campus that he knew would benefit his career some day. Groups like the Student Alumni Association (SAA), Senior Class Council, Engineering Senator of the Iowa State Government of the Student Body, and FarmHouse Fraternity (with which he has continued his involvement after graduation), helped Freeman build on the leadership his mother demonstrated, adding to his already strong character.
He also studied in Europe at University College London through the college’s travel abroad program. Freeman says the cultural experience of the trip was unlike anything he could have found in the states, adding that the coursework was great, but the cultural surroundings were indescribable.
After his sophomore year, Freeman interned at two big-name companies. He spent his summer in Houston working at Exxon, and then took the following fall semester off to intern at Dow Corning in Midland, Michigan. Freeman says he learned a lot about the industry working for both companies, realizing that he preferred production work to doing R&D.
With a foot in the door at Exxon, Freeman’s initial plan after graduation was to return to Houston with his then fiancée and now wife Laura Beane Freeman. But things quickly changed his senior year after his SAA adviser encouraged him to visit the P&G booth at the Engineering Career Fair. “I had great conversations with everyone at the booth and found out it was exactly the kind of work I wanted to do in terms of a strong mix of technical and leadership work with a business focus,” says Freeman.
When December 1996 rolled around and Freeman graduated from Iowa State in the honors program, he and Laura packed their bags and traveled east instead of south. The couple was headed to Iowa City, where Freeman would begin his career with P&G as a process engineer.
Dedication to career and family
In 14 years with P&G, Freeman has created a name for himself by improving manufacturing capability and product quality.
His beginnings in Iowa City had him working to increase throughput, reduce scrap and waste, and improve change over time for hair care products, such as Pantene, Head and Shoulders, and Herbal Essences. At the same time, his wife was building her career, earning a masters and doctorate in Epidemiology from the University of Iowa.
Seven years later, the couple moved to Columbia, Maryland, where Freeman managed the liquids supply chain and operation at P&G’s Hunt Valley Cosmetics Plant. His career continued to flourish in Maryland as he was promoted to site quality assurance leader, managing the plant’s regulated products and reducing quality related losses. In 2007, he was selected as the P&G Global Beauty Care Quality Leader of the Year.
Freeman is now the operations manager at Hunt Valley, where he is responsible for improving flexible manufacturing capability to produce P&G cosmetics brands such as CoverGirl and Max Factor. He says the most difficult thing about working with cosmetics is trying to keep up technologically with the high pace of change in new beauty products for women. The Simply Ageless swirl foundation endorsed by Ellen DeGeneres proved to be one of his greatest challenges. While the product was a number one selling foundation, Freeman says optimizing a dual-stream, hot-fill technology with nearly perfect aesthetics was a significant engineering challenge.
As he continues to excel in his career at P&G, Freeman’s seven-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, along with his wife, are a huge priority for him. “I view my most important job as being a husband and a father,” Freeman professes.
To maintain a healthy balance, Freeman and Laura, who works at the National Cancer Institute in Washington D.C., focus on evenly splitting family responsibilities right down to the “pick-ups and drop-offs” of their children. Freeman says spending time with his family and connecting with them is a priority, enjoying each dinner or story time they share.
Freeman also finds balance through community volunteering as well as training for marathons and triathlons. One of his favorite volunteering experiences was with Big Brothers Big Sisters while he was living in Iowa City, where he mentored a ten-year-old boy, Sam, until he moved to Maryland. “I got so much out of our friendship. It was really life enriching and definitely better prepared me for fatherhood,” he says.
The journey ahead
Freeman isn’t sure where his path will take him, never knowing for sure when one of those life-changing moments will happen and what will happen next. He does know that he wants to continue working in manufacturing. “I definitely picture myself staying with P&G. I wanted to find a company that I could work for until I retire, and it’s just a fantastic company to work for,” Freeman says. He also will work hard as a father, whether coaching little league teams or driving the kids to karate, and keeping his life in check with training for upcoming races.
In October, Freeman will return to the Iowa State campus to be presented with a 2011 Outstanding Young Alumni Award on the weekend of Homecoming. He and Laura are excited to come back and hope to watch the football team take home a victory.
Although it has been many years since Freeman left Iowa State in his rearview, he has taken with him an abundance of knowledge and experiences that he continues to reflect on today. Most prevalent of them all is a quote by M.J. Riggs that he used to pass by while walking into the Memorial Union: “We come to college not alone to prepare to make a living, but to learn to live a life.”
The life Freeman learned to live has been guided by strong purpose and willingness to take on new opportunities. While he can’t know what’s in store, his fortitude to do the best in all that comes his way will continue to take him to new places.