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Startup Weekend in Yuma Successful for Area Student Entrepreneurs

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


Department of Business and Administration’s 2018 Student of the Year: Shelsy Pavon

Meet Shelsy

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.

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

MGBA Information
For more information about the MGBA program or to review the class schedule, visit our site here or contact Dr. Alex Steenstra at



NAU Department of Business and Administration Alumni Career Insights: Angel Liu

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!


Department of Business and Administration’s March 2017 Student of the Month: Kiana Knost

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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!

Department of Business and Administration’s December 2016 Student of the Month: Gabriel Montero

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 080416PM2December 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!

NAU Department of Business and Administration Alumni Career Insights: Lindsay Callaway

Lindsay Callaway is our featured alumna for this edition of the NAU Business and fullsizerenderAdministration 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.

Department of Business and Administration’s August 2016 Student of the Month: Jerri Hargrove

On behalf of the Department of Business and Administration, please join me in congratulating Jerri Hargrov080416PMe for being selected as the Student of the Month for 080416PM2August 2016.  Jerri was proudly nominated by Professor Jeff Blake, who has been a mentor to her during her time at NAU. Professor Blake said, “Jerri is an excellent student with a very positive attitude.”

After completing the summer term, Jerri will graduate with her Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Management. Jerri lives a busy life.  In addition to taking two to three courses per semester, she also juggles her family life, and her many hobbies. Jerri is currently eight months pregnant with her second child and is moving across the country with her family to Charleston, South Carolina.  Her many hobbies include arts and crafts, traveling, staying active, and being with her family.  She is always up for new challenges.  When discussing how Jerri manages her school and daily life, she said, “I really enjoy learning and see it as an opportunity and a privilege. Sounds corny, but it’s true.  I find that I am able to perform well in online courses because I am self-driven and I am dedicated to learning something along the way, not just finishing.” She is an inspiration and many students can benefit by adopting her approach.

After graduation, Jerri plans to raise her children, explore their new surroundings in Charleston, and then return to the workforce.  She has experience in the dental field as a hygienist, but may also use her degree to do something different in the dental industry such as managing her own office. It is clear that Jerri will be successful in whatever career path she chooses after graduation.

When asked what Jerri likes most about NAU, she says she enjoys the commitment of the professors to the students. Jerri said, “I enjoy when they take the time to get to know students in an online setting. It really brings the course and the college experience to life.” She also enjoys the flexibility of online courses.  It allows her to continue her education while working and maintaining her family and social life.

Congratulations Jerri on being the Student of the Month for August 2016! #NAUSOTM #NAUBBASOTM

NAU Department of Business and Administration Alumni Career Insights: Barbara Atkinson

BarbBarbaraAtkinsonara Atkinson is our featured alumna for this edition of the NAU B & A Alumni Career Insights blog. Barbara graduated from NAU-Extended Campuses with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree.  In her own words, following is Barbara’s career story and insights.

I am currently employed as a contractor “Business Analyst” for an Arizona municipality. I left the information technology field in 2004, when my youngest child, then age 19, moved away from home. I left as a Senior Manager and Enterprise Oracle Database Administrator managing database administrators in 6 data centers in 5 countries. I could not be promoted above Senior Manager because I didn’t have an undergraduate degree. That added significant pain to the excessive unpaid overtime.

When my youngest moved away from home, I didn’t need to make that kind of money anymore, and I wanted a life, so I left. Flash forward to 2008. I had been working in alternative asset investments, which was an education into the bowels of finance and economics that you can’t get in any school. When the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy brought economic activity to a screeching halt, my business dissolved. Plan B was to return to IT, but the rules had changed.

In 2006 when I needed a paycheck, I had a well-paying consulting job in 11 days. In 2008, in 6 months of submitting resumes, I only had 2 telephone interviews. In both interviews, the interviewer said that my experience was exceptional; however, without at least an undergraduate degree I couldn’t be considered. So now I have an undergraduate degree in business administration from NAU.  Although I had been out of the IT arena for more than a decade, armed with my undergrad I was able to secure a well-paying consulting position.

My formal title is Lead Business Systems Analyst. I was originally brought on board to facilitate resolution of a very poorly implemented mission critical system. It didn’t take long to realize that the project I was brought on to complete would be completed in a fraction of my contracted time. More projects were added to my workload, and I am typically quite busy with a wide array of tasks that exercise my knowledge and skill sets well. My current workload encompasses a procurement system, a customer service delivery system, business intelligence implementation, and organizational process improvement.

I don’t really have typical days. Today I am working on completing the business requirements and design for an enterprise-wide procurement analytics cube. This will allow users to analyze spend against contract, spend by product category by department by vendor to potentially consolidate vendors, identify vendors with contracts with multiple departments so contracts can be consolidated for optimized pricing, and identify vendor names with multiple vendor numbers for cleanup.

Most days have meetings of some kind. Today there was a meeting with the core IT group to resolve production deployment process problems. Tomorrow morning I’ll be facilitating a meeting between users and developers that uses constructs of the Rapid Application Development (RAD) model that was prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s. I was able to get buy-in from stakeholders that this would be a worthwhile exercise. As the facilitator, I will document the changes and the change priority agreed upon by the developers and the users. I expect the exercise to be very successful.

There is somewhat of an expectation that I will apply for a permanent employment opportunity that is being created. Should I receive an offer for permanent employment, I will have to get an MBA to move up. The thought of going back to school again kind of makes me want to cry, but the municipality footing the bill helps ease the pain. If I do return to school to pursue my MBA, I hope that I can do so at NAU.

Regarding insights about resume writing, it is important to match verbiage and keywords in job requirements. Most employers, including contracting agencies, retrieve stored resumes using keywords. In the technical arena, most recruiters, whether they are in-house or agencies, don’t understand technology and technical skills. When they select a resume to be forwarded to a hiring manager, they do so based on the resume skills and experience matching the skills and experience in the job requirement.

When I begin a job search, I always like to interview for a few positions I would likely never accept. This takes the pressure off me while I re-sharpen my interviewing skills so when I do interview for a job I do want, the interview is relatively flawless. It’s also important to remember that an interview goes both ways.

Congratulations Barbara on earning your BBA degree, your career success and on being our featured NAU B & A alumna.

NAU Department of Business and Administration Alumni Career Insights: Adam Wong

Adam Wong is our featured alumnus for this edition of the NAU Business & Administration Alumni Career Insights Blog. Adam graduated from Northern Arizona University with a adam-2Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Spring 2011. Since graduation, he has advanced his career at TTI Success Insights (TTISI), an organization that researches and applies social and brain science to create a customized suite of behavioral assessments that help organization hire, develop, and retain top talent.

Adam is currently the Vice President of TTISI. In his role, Adam leads the areas of sales, training, customer service, and new products. He “spearheads efforts to further improve TTISI’s technology, which is known for consistently staying ahead of the marketplace, while creating the world’s best science-based assessments and technology.”

When asked which courses helped him prepare for his career, Adam mentioned that all of his BBA courses contributed to his education and preparedness for his career. Three courses did stand out to him, and they were:

  • BBA 490c, Strategic Management with Professor Jim Latham
  • “I don’t remember the exact course number…[but it was] a course with Dr. Miller-Leister, which I had to present on a topic of my choice. I’ll never forget she gave me 124 out of 125 possible points!”
  • BBA 450, Leadership with Professor Stewart Segall

When asked how the BBA program prepared him for his current job, Adam believes the program gave him a general level of comfort and knowledge regarding everyday business terms and applications. “The amount of group work and presenting really helped me prepare for ‘the real world’”. When asked to compare the corporate world to what he learned in school, Adam mentioned, “it’s like comparing night and day.”

Regarding conducting a job search, Adam mentions that he strategically leveraged his internship to reach his current position. With determination and hard work, he sought to leave no doubt in the minds of the organization that he was the right person to hire.

Regarding interviewing, he mentions the following points: “Research the company you’re interviewing with and be able to intelligently speak about the position. Listen extremely well to the questions the interviewer asks, and make sure to answer the question. This sounds obvious, but many people are so nervous that they continue to talk, talk and talk without ever truly answering the interviewer’s question. Lastly, dress accordingly and arrive a few minutes early.”

Regarding networking, Adam emphasizes, “Do it! It’s much easier to get a job when you have an internal advocate. Aside from just networking, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY. You never know where an opportunity will take you!” Congratulations Adam on your career success and on being our featured NAU Business & Administration alumnus.