Northern Arizona University and Arizona Western College co-sponsored a 3-day event, March 23-25, that focused on providing professional guidance to area students interested in developing skills and expertise in creating entrepreneurial businesses. Over 70 area students from Mexico, Yuma, and California participated in the activities.
Students were encouraged to register for the event by including a skeleton proposal for a “startup” business. These ideas were presented to the group on Friday evening. Participants then voted to highlight their favorite business proposals. Twelve potential business propositions were selected. Teams were formed that initiated the effort to define, substantiate the need for, and assess the public and financial support necessary to create a functional business enterprise.
Presentations were given by John Courtis, Executive Director of the Yuma Chamber of Commerce, Bosco Noronha, Senior Plant Engineer, Arizona Public Service, Margie Dallabetta, Associate Broker of Long Realty of Yuma, and Arturo Morales, Senior Director of Business Development for APA Federal Credit Union of Yuma. These keynotes provided unique perspectives as to how prospective entrepreneurs can and should develop and validate ideas relating to business goals and paths forward.
Mentoring and coaching to support the student teams was provided by academic faculties of NAU and AWC, and also by volunteers from local businesses. The expertise successful commercial leaders proved to be an exceptional asset appreciated by all student team members. Teams met as groups Saturday and part of Sunday with mentors to discuss and resolve issues ranging from environmental concerns, financial constraints and forecasts, social and educational implications, and data collection involving target customers and evaluation of concepts such as minimum viable product.
Sunday afternoon was the culmination of the weekend as teams were given the opportunity to present their ideas of business development to a group of judges, Tom Rush, Niraj Kohil, Michelle Sims, Joseph Moser, and Jim Adler, who listened and questioned participants regarding their proposed business structure.
Unknown to the students, local businesses sponsored monetary prizes for the top 4 teams. First prize went to team Netwoon. Their business proposal involved the concept of designing a video game for use on a cell phone to identify user interaction with chemicals. Second place was awarded to a team that promoted VetBot, an app created to provide medical assistance for pets. Third place was earned by a group called bRingItOn. Their idea was to develop a personal manager app that could be coded into a ring worn by users. Honorable Mention was designated to Plume which was organized to promote music and art residence in local communities.
Organizers of this event are appreciative of the support of the many sponsors including the Yuma Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation, 4FRONTED, the AWC Small Business Development Center, the NAU Yuma Business Innovation Accelerator, the Matador Business Incubator, and entrepreneurship programs from Mexican educational institutions including CETYS, Universidad Politecnica de Baja California, and Universidad Techológica de San Luis Rio Colorado.
The success of this event was due to the combined efforts of many volunteer community leaders, but special acknowledgement should be afforded to Dr. Rakesh Pangasa, Dr. Mike Sabbath, and Dr. Alex Steenstra of NAU, and Randy Nelson, Dr. Linda Elliott-Nelson, and Shahrooz Roohparvar of AWC, for their efforts in coordinating this event.
Written by and photos by Dr. Frank Kidd, NAU-Yuma
Shelsy Pavon was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona. While attending classes at Arizona Western College she learned about the NAU-Yuma campus and chose Northern Arizona University (NAU) to continue her education. Shelsy is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree with an emphasis in global management and plans to earn her Master of Global Business Administration (MGBA) degree from NAU-Yuma. She said, “NAU has offered me the opportunity to stay in my home town while I continue to work on my degree.” Since her first day at NAU, Shelsy has dedicated herself to long days and nights studying to succeed on her academic journey.
Today on behalf of the Department of Business and Administration, please join me in congratulating Shelsy Pavon for being selected as the Student of the Year for 2018.
Describe your experience as a student at NAU.
While attending classes at Arizona Western College, I was searching for an institution that offered a degree in business that was affordable. I learned about NAU-Yuma and applied to continue my education. My experience at NAU has been a unique practice of day-to-day learning that I will never forget. The professors at NAU-Yuma have made my experience so memorable. The learning environment is great and the professors are flexible and attentive. The small classroom size made it easier for me to connect with the professors and other students who are pursuing a degree in the same discipline.
Congratulations on being selected as Student of the Year (SOTY). That is quite an honor, what does it mean to you?
Being selected as SOTY for 2018 has been an honor for me. This award means a lot to me and my family because it demonstrates that my hard work was not overlooked, and it has paid off. I am very thankful for being selected as SOTY. Words cannot explain the pride I feel and how lucky I am to be able to share with others one of greatest accomplishments in my academic journey.
What academic achievement are you most proud of and why?
Every achievement received has been very important to me. Being recognized for my hard work and for excelling has helped me push myself even further. One important lesson I’ve learned so far is to never stop working and to try harder every time because it takes many long nights and a lot of effort to be successful.
Who has been the most influential person regarding achieving your academic goals?
The two most influential people regarding achieving my academic goals are my parents. My parents have always supported me and pushed me to be better and to do better. My parents have been with me throughout my academic journey and they always provide me with motivation to try harder than the day before.
“…yes, you can and you will be there soon.”
Who are your role models? Who impresses you most in how s/he lives his/her life and why?
Several people are important to me and to my academic journey, but when referring to role models I will once again say my parents, Frank and Connie. They impress me with their manners and lifestyle. They are always caring for other people and are always giving and loving to others. They have molded me into the responsible female I am today in both my personal and educational life. They have also taught me the meaning of respect and responsibility. According to my parents, “Be good and positive and success will soon knock on your door.”
What values are most important to you? How have they helped you on your academic journey?
Balance and faith are the most important values for me. Balance has helped me in my academic journey because it’s a reminder that there is a time for everything and that there has to be a balance between enjoying life and working hard for the future. Balance has kept me focused on working hard to finish my undergraduate degree too. Faith has helped me in my academic journey because it has kept me from giving up on myself and helped me to keep on going.
Outside of your classes, what activity has been the most important in terms of your personal growth?
Outside of my classes I am an active person and I love to run, hike, and lift weights. Anything that includes working out has always been an important activity for me. Without health it is hard to enjoy life. Personal growth has also come from improving my community through my church such as, aiding in the coordination of community events and volunteering in local events including: harvest festivals, Easter events, and youth events.
How do you define a good leader? How will you aspire to be a good leader in your professional and/or personal life?
A good leader to me is someone that can motivate, inspire, and have a positive impact on others. I aspire to be a good leader in my personal life and professional life by doing just that, motivating, inspiring, and impacting peoples’ lives in a positive way. Understanding others and developing good communication skills is the key to becoming a good leader.
What are your post-graduation plans and where do you see yourself in five years?
After graduation I want to work for a global business company. Additionally, I am interested in investing in and flipping residential real estate. Generally speaking, I would like to work for a company that will help me enrich my knowledge and encourage me to apply what I have learned in my studies.
In five years I see myself as a successful, positive, and optimistic woman. I will probably be working for myself, flipping and selling homes and commercial properties in a variety of states. I also see myself learning from my good and bad experiences and turning every struggle into a positive learning opportunity.
What tips would you give to other students to help them achieve their academic goals?
A tip I would give to other students is to find the balance between having fun and staying focused on your academic and personal goals. Successful students should create goals, make school a priority, take responsibility, participate, attend classes, and ask questions when needed. It is important to prepare yourself in every possible way so you can develop into that successful person you want to be.
Christina was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona. While still in high school, she learned about NAU-Yuma through Arizona Western College (AWC) in Yuma where she was taking English classes. Christina applied to NAU and was awarded a Lumberjack Scholarship. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree through a combination of taking classes at the NAU Flagstaff campus, at the NAU-Yuma campus, and online.
NAU’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Degree
Christina said she started thinking about her major when she was a freshman in high school. She did extensive research on what she wanted to study after high school graduation and narrowed it down to business and specifically marketing. Christina knew she wanted to have a well-rounded education that she could apply anywhere and that’s why a degree in business with an emphasis in marketing made sense.
When asked what advice she could offer students who are considering the NAU BBA program, Christina said, “The best advice I have, not just for the BBA program but for any program, is to get to know your professors.” One of Christina’s professors, Dr. Frank Kidd, wrote a recommendation letter for her that helped her land the job that she now has as a sales coordinator for the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau (MCCVB).
Dr. Kidd truly inspired her. Christina stated, “I really liked his philosophy on teaching the best.” He believed in hands-on work and in-class discussions rather than the usual quizzes or tests and he liked to see the whole class work together as a team to achieve one goal. Dr. Kidd was also a great mentor to her and was always more than willing to share his knowledge with his students.
Christina said that her degree has helped her immensely in her new position. She used tips from her computer information systems classes, marketing classes, and even her strategic management class. She said, “Sometimes the smallest tips make the most impact.” As examples, building her LinkedIn profile for networking purposes and using Excel to organize pending business leads has helped her tremendously.
While Christina was pursuing her degree, she had several part-time jobs. The most impactful to her at the time was her job at the Yuma Sun Newspaper. She started working as a customer service representative and later was promoted. She then transferred to the classified department as a classified sales executive. She stated, “That job helped me get the job I currently have!”
Christina’s Journey After Graduation
Christina currently works in the beautiful city of Monterey, California, as a sales coordinator for the MCCVB. She said, “I can honestly say I love my job!” Christina always wanted to move to California and since her family and boyfriend worked in agriculture and spent a large part of the year in Salinas, California, relocating to Monterey after graduation to be closer to them made perfect sense.
After graduation, Christina applied for several jobs including part-time jobs; however, nothing panned out for her. She decided to take a leap of faith and with no job lined up, she packed her bags and moved to California. She stayed with family and within two weeks living in Monterey, she received an email from the MCCVB. She had initially applied for an administrative coordinator position, but was offered the sales coordinator role instead because it just became available and the position was a better fit with her degree and experience. She stated, “I was ecstatic to be offered this position and to this day it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity.”
Searching for a job out of state can be challenging. Christina conducted her job search online by looking at multiple websites daily and signing up for multiple newsletters. She would check for new openings and constantly worked on improving her resume and cover letter. She tailored her cover letter to the job she was applying for. Christina stated, “I looked everywhere and checked every day.”
LinkedIn is another resource that Christina used for her job search. In her digital marketing course, Christina mentioned, “Dr. Paige Leister gave us such great pointers on how to improve our LinkedIn profiles” and Christina said she still uses those tips quite a bit today. “It was through LinkedIn that I learned about my current job. It is honestly a great tool for both applying for jobs and networking afterwards.”
A Typical Work Day
As a sales coordinator, Christina has plenty of job responsibilities and every day is different. She likes to think of herself as the assistant to all the sales executives. MCCVB has multiple regional sales executives (RSEs) in different regions of the United States. They also have one tour and leisure travel sales executive. The RSEs focus on group sales, that is meetings, conferences, retreats, etc., and the tour and travel sales executives deal with a lot of international business. Her job is to help them be successful. The job of the sales team is to sell their location and ensure that businesses come to Monterey County.
Specifically, her responsibilities include communicating with hotels to receive booking confirmations to secure catering for certain events and even determining the logistics to get travel agents from China to Monterey. The MCCVB works very closely with Visit California and ultimately wants the whole world to know that Monterey is here, and they want their business. “Heads in beds is what we like to say” she said. Ultimately, tourism provides more jobs for more people and makes a huge economic impact for the county. “My job is a lot of hard work, but it is also a lot of fun. I get to go to restaurant grand openings and to wine tasting rooms as part of my job.”
Into the Future
In the next five years, Christina continues to see herself in sales for the hospitality industry. She would love to still be working with the MCCVB because it is truly a wonderful place to work and has a great management team. She hopes to climb the career ladder and work as a sales executive for the MCCVB or possibly for a different organization like Visit California. She can also see herself as a sales manager for a hotel in the future.
“A lot can happen in five years and I do not know where life will take me, but I plan to work hard and hopefully achieve greater things in the future. As cliché as this sounds…this is just the beginning.”
Congratulations, Christina on your career success and on being our featured NAU Department of Business & Administration alumna.
Department of Business and Administration’s October 2017 Student of the Month: Elizabeth Benitez, MGBA
Please join us in congratulating Elizabeth Benitez for being the October Student of the Month. Elizabeth is the first graduate of the new Master of Global Business Administration (MGBA) degree program in Yuma. She also works for NAU-Yuma in an administrative role.
Elizabeth moved to the United States after finishing high school in Mexico. She learned English when she started college. She enjoys volunteering and helping with community events. She was the Student Body President of Bien Hecho, a NAU club, and has been the recipient of scholarships, and numerous awards including the NAU Gold Axe Award.
Why NAU-Yuma’s MGBA program?
As soon as Elizabeth finished her Bachelor’s degree, her goal was to obtain a Master’s degree. She chose the NAU-Yuma MGBA program because of the competitive advantage it provides in getting a job nationally and internationally. She really liked the emphasis on global and believes the MGBA to be a very unique program.
The MGBA Program Experience
“I loved all of the classes and I learned exceptional skills and knowledge in each one of the classes in the program.” She went on to say, “Global Economics with Dr. Alex Steenstra was very engaging as we learned about economics around the world. We analyzed each country and learned about their strategies to increase market power.”
When asked about the faculty, Elizabeth shared that they were very accessible to all of the students because the class sizes were small. The faculty had office hours; however, if she had questions, they would stay after class to explain concepts or activities she did not understand. In addition, she would send emails with questions and they would be answered quickly. Elizabeth felt that every professor in the program had something unique and inspiring to offer. One professor, Dr. Rakesh Pangasa, inspired Elizabeth to believe that she can accomplish anything and she could go beyond her dreams!
“I am very pleased with the outcome of the program. The
classes are small and the faculty are always available to help with
different projects and assignments.”
Beyond the Classroom
Elizabeth has been able to take what she learned in the MGBA program and translate it to her current administrative role at NAU-Yuma. In her position, she coordinates unit budgets which she studied in her Accounting and Financial Decision Making classes in the program. She also works effectively with a diverse population of students, using skills that she learned in the Global Leadership class.
When asked how the MGBA from NAU-Yuma made her competitive in the workplace she said, “I believe the MGBA program makes me competitive because I have developed exceptional business administration skills, unique global skills, and the ability to create innovation and efficiency in the workplace.”
In the next five years Elizabeth sees herself pursuing a doctoral degree and being a business owner.
“I highly recommend the Master of Global Business Administration degree (MGBA) – it only took me one year to complete the program.”
Congratulations, Elizabeth on being the October Student of the Month and for your incredible achievement!
NAU–Yuma Master of Global Business Administration (MGBA) degree program offers students:
- Flexibility and affordability
- A strong theoretical background, global skills and insights directly applicable to your work
- Real-world assignments
- Faculty with experience beyond academia
- Career advancement, tailored to your goals
To prepare graduates for a significant career in business, specifically with an emphasis on border business issues. You will learn business with a border focus within the context of broad global business ideas which reflects the need of educational opportunities in a growing and global world.
- Small, student-focused class size
- Faculty with strong academic and professional world experience
- Focus on student learning outcomes
- Cost effective program delivery
For more information about the MGBA program or to review the class schedule, visit our site here or contact Dr. Alex Steenstra at Alex.Steenstra@nau.edu.
Why did you decide to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree at NAU?
I am still trying to find a concise answer to this question as I am asked it every time college graduation comes up in casual conversation. The term business can be argued as the core of our existence. We live in a business-oriented world where many encounters and exchanges are of a professional manner. It is wise for an individual to have an understanding of how a firm operates and the part it plays in global markets. This is important as many individuals will be a part of a business for the majority of their lives. Understanding the components of business operations such as marketing, finance, management, manufacturing, human resources, and the law enhances a person’s ability to make successful business-related decisions.
There is a business for most types of demands; therefore, it is possible to use business skills in a variety of fields. My career path was undecided when I enrolled in college. I had (and still have) many interests in various fields. I did not truly understand my strengths and weaknesses yet. I wanted to pursue a degree that I would not have regrets about later on, like not being able to find a job. During the course of my education, I became enamored by the various components of business and took a liking to technology implementation, enhancing systematic processes, and strategic management.
Were there any professors that truly inspired you?
I enjoyed working with Dr. Cordova, as she was motivating and very creative. During the last semester, the workload increased for both college and my occupation. She broke down concepts very well. I also appreciated the Management Information Systems instructor as he used very relevant articles and videos to teach his course. He limited the amount of textbook work, which is an industry of its own, as much as possible.
Did you have a job or participate in an internship while you were pursuing your degree?
At one time I had two jobs during my college career. Youth sure does have its benefits. I did not participate in an internship, but instead received hands-on paid learning through my job. I was a department manager for 17 employees and my specialty was implementing systematic and programming solutions. Recently, I took a leap to another career path with a sustainable and scalable company. There is more opportunity for learning and growth.
How has networking and obtaining your degree helped you in your career? Were there any classes that were the most practically applicable?
I am a proponent of those who surround you will determine your quality of life. Networking has helped me become acquainted with others who can offer something specific to me, and in turn I can offer the same to another. Networking has also helped me secure my new position. As mentioned previously, business is everywhere. I often use the communication and business writing skills I learned in college. This was particularly helpful while preparing and hosting meetings. Employment Law, Compensation and Benefits, Global Finance, and Business Finance were courses that were the most practically applicable for me.
What kinds of hobbies did you have while working on your degree? How did you manage to juggle work, school, family, hobbies, etc.?
While leisure time was limited in school, I mainly focused on my exercise regimen. I was able to maintain my running and lifting routine. I participated in several races and a half-marathon. I try to reach 30 miles a week which became exhausting with the increase in workload. Now that I have graduated, I will resume my guitar playing and leisurely reading. I was able to juggle work, school, family, and hobbies by staying organized and keeping a tight schedule. There seems to be more hours in a day when they are used wisely and there’s always time for a little music and snacks with friends!
What advice do you have for students who are considering the NAU BBA program?
Though it may not be solid yet, have a plan. Figure out what you like to do, what interests you, and consider your strengths and weaknesses. College is a great way to improve upon your weaknesses. While studying, obtain a strong grasp on the material. That will help you get where you want to be. Signing up for courses can be tedious and nerve wracking. Chose courses that are relevant to your overall goal. Many of the professors are business owners, entrepreneurs, and just fascinating people – take advantage of their time.
What advice do you have for students as they are approaching graduation and after graduation?
Stay organized. Use this time to hone your skills and meet others. If you have debt, formulate a plan to pay-off your loans. If you do not have a solid career path, set a game plan for your next steps to get a job in business. If you are in an enjoyable and stable organization, figure out your next steps for professional growth. Stay diligent and develop your research skills and analytical abilities throughout life. Most importantly, take some time to breath and congratulate yourself on graduating!
Congratulations on graduating Rochelle and best wishes in your career!
Why did you decide to pursue a BBA degree?
When I started college, I was going to school for nursing. After volunteering at a hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), I decided it wasn’t for me. I knew that I wanted to finish school and that business was a part of any career, so I chose to join the NAU BBA program and attend classes at the NAU Paradise Valley Community College campus.
Did you have a job while you were pursuing your degree?
I was working part-time at a medical device company that is headquartered in Scottsdale. I started in the customer service department as an aide. As I learned more they started to give me more work. Since I had a flexible schedule, I started filling in for employees who were out of the office. My position became quite versatile.
Did you complete any internships?
I had two internships at the same organization. I requested an internship at Cayenne Medical and they created a program for me in the marketing department. I enjoyed it so much that I completed another internship with the same company in the sales and operations department working with a business analyst. I learned so much by working in multiple departments. Don’t hesitate to try and create opportunities for yourself!
Where are you now – where do you work & how did you get your job? Tell us about your journey.
I currently work for a small recruiting firm, QFR Solutions. We specialize in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industries. A recruiter reached out to me through LinkedIn and initially I was unsure about it because I was applying for positions at larger companies. After meeting with the interviewer (my current boss) for a successful first interview, I returned to meet the rest of the staff. The company expressed such great interest in me becoming a part of their team that they extended an offer I couldn’t turn down. I declined the two other offers I had pending, and it’s been a little over a year now and I am very glad I joined this team. The time I spent working at the medical device company helped me understand the medical sales industry more which has helped me become successful in my job.
What advice would you give BBA students?
- When you’re looking for a job, it’s okay to be nervous during the interview. Research the company and go to the interview prepared with responses to questions that may be asked. Also just be yourself. Just as a company is seeking a candidate to be the right fit for them, remember that you are interviewing the company to see if they’re the right fit for you.
- Participate in any extracurricular activities that interest you. Volunteering is a great piece to add to your potentially light resume if you are fresh out of school with only a little bit of work experience. Getting involved in your community with volunteer work can also be a good addition to graduate school admissions applications, scholarship applications, and job applications. I look at resumes every day and when I see volunteer or community service listed, I tend to think that the individual is proactive about making a difference in the community.
- Networking is so important. Having connections help get your foot in the door, so get out of your bubble and get involved. Join business clubs, volunteer in your community (members of your network may even write a letter of recommendation for you), talk to professors (they may connect you to companies or their peers), have conversations with existing relationships (I got one job lead through my neighbor), and keep in touch with recruiters and hiring managers. You may not have been the right fit for the job you interviewed for; however, you may be the perfect fit for another position in their network.
- Build your LinkedIn profile and stay active. The recruiter who reached out to me for my current position contacted me through LinkedIn. Recruiting specialists have different features on their accounts where they can narrow their searches for candidates (e.g., school, graduation year, skills, previous work experience, etc.). Develop every area you can on your profile to increase your visibility in searches.
If you could change one thing about your NAU experience, what would it be?
If I could do this all over again, I would probably not rush to graduate and I would have taken more classes in person. I took more online courses than in person courses and missed out on the classroom environment. Online discussion boards can’t really be compared to classroom discussions where you get to share ideas and opinions in real time. If there is availability for you to take in person courses, I would definitely recommend fitting them into your schedule.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Married, successful, and possibly with a child on the way. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, but I am not quite ready for motherhood just yet. There are a few things I need to accomplish first and places I want to see. The ultimate goal is to be happy and healthy.
I see myself as a positive person and try to be optimistic. I don’t want to see some of my mistakes as losing an opportunity or me failing. Instead I choose to see them as experiences to learn from.
Congratulations Angel on all of your successes!
I would like to introduce Nathaniel Hunter or Nate as he prefers. Nate is our featured alumnus for this March 2017 edition of the NAU B & A Alumni Career Insights blog. Nate graduated in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree (BBA), Marketing emphasis.
While attending school, Nate worked for AZ Sports 92.3 KTAR promotions. He also obtained a sales internship from June to August 2016 with Daktronics. Daktronics is the world’s industry leader in designing and manufacturing electronic scoreboards, programmable display systems, and large screen video displays. Upon completion of his internship, Nate was offered a full-time position with the company which he accepted. He is now in Inside Sales for the Western Region. He is corporate-based, but has the privilege of working out of his home. He has teams in Wyoming, Hawaii, and Northern California (commercial sector) that are all under his direct supervision.
While attending NAU, there were two courses specifically that he feels helped him prepare the most for his current career. Those courses were BBA 305W Business Communications and BBA 313 Personal Selling. He stated that what he learned in the business communications course he uses daily. He said it helped him to be more concise with instructions to his teams. It also helped with knowing the proper format for a resume. With this knowledge, he secured his internship. As for the selling course, Nate stated that what helped him the most in this course were the role play activities where one person would portray the customer while the other was the sales representative and you had to figure out a way to resolve the situation so that both parties were satisfied with the outcome.
One of Nate’s instructors, Professor Latham, stands out from the rest as it was Professor Latham who took notice of how Nate was excelling with the material and that he showed great interest in it. Professor Latham suggested that Nate should apply for the internship with Daktronics as he felt Nate would be a good fit. Nate stated that the thing he enjoyed the most while at NAU was the small class sizes. He went on to say, “the small class sizes allowed for a better interaction between professors and students. Without it, I may not have been recognized for the internship opportunity which has since become my career.”
As a person, it is often difficult to accept advice from someone else. Especially, if they are not going through or have recently experienced the same thing as you. As one of the final questions for Nate, he was asked for his best piece of advice for current NAU BBA students and this is what he said, “INTERNSHIPS!!! If you haven’t already gotten one, go find one!”
So there we have it, advice from a very recent NAU BBA graduate stressing the importance of an internship. There is an old saying that the worst advice is the advice not taken! Don’t let these words of wisdom escape you, let them sink in and engage and participate in class. Next thing you know, you could be working at a Fortune 500 company in no time, doing exactly what you love! Thank you for your insights Nate and we wish you the best in your professional career with Daktronics!
On behalf of the Department of Business and Administration, please join me in congratulating Kiana Knost for being selected as the March Student of the Month (SOTM). Kiana was chosen because of the strong skills she demonstrates in leading online teams which includes taking the initiative to structure group projects, proposing a plan of action, motivating the team, and verifying that everyone is on track. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree (BBA) with an emphasis in Management and plans to graduate in Spring 2017.
Although she is a full-time student, she spends her free time hiking and going on walks with Mikey (her dog), traveling, hanging out with friends and family, and developing her skills to one day own a cosmetics line. “One of my biggest passions is makeup, because it allows me to express my creative side,” says Kiana. This passion grew when she started to practice the tips she learned from YouTube beauty gurus who became entrepreneurs. Discovering the many opportunities to turn a simple hobby of applying makeup into a job venture continues to increase her desire to be her own #girlboss.
Why did you choose NAU?
I went to the University of Arizona for my freshman year. I was working toward a degree in marine biology and planned on transferring to a school in California, but while working at my previous job I was exposed to business. The experience inspired me so much that I wanted to work toward a business degree. I earned my Associates degree from Pima Community College (PCC). A friend introduced me to online classes and I explored it further. I kept taking more online courses and really enjoyed them. I also liked that they were flexible. What brought me to NAU was a letter I received in the mail about the 2NAU program and specifically that I could earn my degree online. Also the tuition was affordable at NAU and I had experience with online courses at PCC and enjoyed them.
Why is getting a higher education important to you?
Getting a higher education is important because having a degree and knowledge in business allows me to be better prepared to use it in the business world. With business knowledge, I am also more credible. Many classes I have taken already have expanded my mind about topics that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Getting a higher education has broadened my perspective.
What attracted you to your degree? Since high school I dreamed about owning my own cosmetics line. I knew there would be more doors opened for me if I had a business degree and once I got some experience working in the beauty industry, I was persuaded to pursue my BBA degree.
Which teacher influenced you the most?
Professor Jason Myrowitz and the Negotiation and Conflict Management course influenced me the most. He provided comforting advice when I had questions or needed help. He was also able to provide me with reassurance if I had any doubts or issues with assignments as well as provide helpful, genuine feedback.
Where would you like to be in 4 years?
I hope to be working for a cosmetics company at a corporate level and to gain some more experience in management. I would also love to be a beauty Influencer on Instagram. I love photography and beauty-related things and Instagram is the perfect medium to blend the two. Eventually I would like to create my own cosmetics line. Ultimately, my goal is to have my own cosmetics company that is vegan and cruelty-free, so four years from now I would love to have my first product released.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is isn’t about money. It’s about being with the people you enjoy being around and care about. Mainly, it’s about happiness and being healthy so you can do what you love and enjoy every day.
What is the most important characteristic you believe will get you far in life?
Being genuine. People remember what you do, so it’s important to be genuine. You never know who might be the one to help you in the future. I have always felt that doing good and being kind to others will get you far in life.
“…stay organized so you don’t overwhelm yourself.”
What advice would you give incoming BBA students attending our program?
The best advice I would give is to stay organized so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Having a planner and planning which assignments to do each day will make things a lot easier. Write down every due date and then write down when you’re going to complete each assignment. That way you’re able to work at a steady pace and don’t end up cramming to complete assignments at the last minute. I’ve found that cramming doesn’t help. As much as possible, keep a balance including leisure activities too. Stay organized, pace yourself, take breaks when you need to, don’t cram, and don’t be afraid to ask your professors for help. They’re there to help.
What will you take away from your experience at NAU?
How to work as partners and in teams. I gained experience in leading online teams and I think I could translate that to the working world. In most of my classes I was the one to take the initiative to lead – to get the team organized and make sure everyone was focused on the same goals. I would also check in with everyone through group texts in order to make sure everyone was on track to complete their part of the project. In groups, you’re with different types of personalities and I found it important to allow others to share their thoughts and make suggestions; it’s a great way to explore and expand ideas.
What does it mean for you to be the Department of Business & Administration’s SOTM and recognized for your leadership qualities?
When I was younger, I never really imagined myself as a leader. However, as I’ve gained experience in the workforce and through what I have learned at NAU, it has been exciting to look back at how I’ve developed and grown. A leader should be able to direct, encourage, and listen to what others have to say. NAU has helped develop my leadership skills and now I have been recognized as Student of the Month. I feel honored.
Congratulations, Kiana, on being the March Student of the Month!
On behalf of the Department of Business and Administration, please join me in congratulating Gabriel Montero for being selected as the Student of the Month for December 2016.
Gabriel is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at NAU-Yuma. He is striving to graduate in Spring 2018.
In addition to being a full-time student, Gabriel enjoys playing golf, reading fiction, photography, and spending time with his family.
Gabriel was one of twelve students selected to receive the Southern Arizona Logistics Education Organization’s (SALEO) annual scholarship. When asked how he felt about winning the SALEO scholarship, he said, “I was very happy when I heard the news about winning the scholarship. I couldn’t wait to tell my family after receiving the news! I have twin daughters graduating from high school this year, so the news was very encouraging for them. If their father earned a scholarship, maybe they can too (they are far better students). Financial help is available, but students must be willing to put in the time to seek them out and apply. I am very happy and thankful to the SALEO organization for the award.”
Gabriel Montero (center) receives scholarship presented by SALEO President Mike Valencia and Dr. David Parmenter from NAU
Regarding his career plans after graduation, Gabriel is planning to continue to graduate school at NAU. He is also “looking forward to having opportunities open up in the manufacturing planning process. This is an area that I would enjoy working in which requires this degree.” His advice for other students pursuing a logistics degree or career is, “I love the logistics field because it’s the type of degree that will open doors to many diverse areas of business. Many people think logistics is just transportation; however, it is much more than that. The field is very broad since it covers many areas such as procurement, internal logistics, and the outbound process to customers.”
When asked which courses made an impact on him, Gabriel highlighted Sarah Richardson’s Business Communication course which he took this semester. “The course was very well structured and the feedback was excellent. The course has had a positive impact on my job.”
When asked what he believed is the secret to success, Gabriel stated, “I believe that the key to success is to work hard. Work hard and smart to overcome roadblocks; do not be discouraged when it gets difficult. Difficulties and problems should be seen as opportunities that contribute to personal and professional growth.”
Congratulations Gabriel on being the Student of the Month for December 2016!
Lindsay Callaway is our featured alumna for this edition of the NAU Business and Administration Alumni Career Insight Blog. Lindsay graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in May 2010. Since graduation, she has advanced her career at Penske Automotive Group, an international transportation services company that operates automotive and commercial truck dealerships that distribute commercial vehicles, diesel engines, gas engines, power systems and related parts.
Lindsay is currently the E-Commerce Manager of Penske Automotive Group, Arizona Market. In her role, Lindsay oversees their entire web presence for Arizona’s dealerships and related businesses which covers about 21 brands and 16 dealerships in addition to their collision center and rapid repair. She stated, “I am responsible for what our customers see on the websites, including the internal website maintenance. I’m also in charge of our online reputation and social media accounts, online/digital marketing, vendor analysis/performance, and our online inventory photo team. As well as managing a team of 10 employees.”
When asked which courses helped her prepare for her career, Lindsay mentioned that her BBA 305W Effective Business Communications course was a huge asset. She said, “being able to communicate effectively in a variety of platforms is important, especially when working with a large group.” She also mentioned BBA 480 Business Plan Development and added knowing strategic issues and operations of new and existing businesses inside and out to be helpful. “My emphasis was on small business while in school, and obviously now I am definitely not with a small business, but I feel I am able to apply what I learned in that course to the bigger picture now. In all honesty, I have a hard time remembering some of the specific courses, but overall I felt well prepared with my education to perform my job today.”
Lindsay believes the BBA program helped her feel qualified and confident. She said, “I didn’t expect job hunting to be so tough though. I definitely had some blows to my ego when I didn’t get return calls or interviews for jobs I felt I was perfect for. When I was first hired with Penske, it was an entry level position that didn’t actually require any degree. When I accepted the job, I knew I was going to a great company that supports and promotes from within so that was huge for me. However, I was disappointed I wasn’t hired into a ‘big girl job’ right out of school. I remember telling myself I’m going to show them what I’m capable of and advance quickly. Luckily I did and was able to earn my first promotion after just five months. I feel the program gave me the knowledge and resources to be a great employee and advance within an organization.”
Regarding conducting a job search, Lindsay mentioned the advice she received throughout school which was to start job hunting early on. She commented, “Unfortunately, I didn’t listen. I had a lot going on academically, personally, and work-wise that I truly couldn’t put the effort in while in school. I didn’t start job hunting until after I graduated. I searched the typical job search sites and would spend hours looking for jobs. I reached out to a couple long time family friends that were in the fields I was interested in to see if their companies were hiring and I cold called local companies I wanted to work for.” Ultimately, for Lindsay it came down to networking and getting the word out. She got her job through a friend who knew someone who had just put in a two-week notice. She contacted the company and was interviewed before the job was even posted online.
When asked about the difference between the corporate world and what she learned in school, she mentioned hands-on experience. She said, “Being put in situations and having to problem solve or work through them and not necessarily having the textbook scenario to do it. You can go through a lot of scenarios in classes, but I really didn’t feel that it prepared me for the real deal. I’ve found that I have to be insanely flexible professionally. Time management is key and prioritization is a daily occurrence. When I start my day at work, it rarely ends how I expect it to. I think school is very here is a task, complete it by the deadline while I found that in my professional world I need to have a lot of fluidity.”
Regarding interviewing, she makes the following suggestions:
- Take a deep breath and relax.
- Conduct research about the company.
- Research the company beyond just the basics.
- Prepare your own questions to ask the interviewer.
Regarding networking, Lindsay emphasizes, “Do it! Get started while in school and continue on throughout your career. Always have business cards ready.” In addition, Lindsay also attends conferences to keep her up to date in her industry. She also said, “You will meet a lot of people along the way and it’s helpful to have those networking connections. Treat everyone you meet with respect because you never know when you may be working together.” Congratulations Lindsay on your career success and on being our featured NAU Business & Administration alumna.