Monthly Archives: July 2021

Accounting (MS) Alumni Transitions from Student to Future Instructor: July’s aMaizeing Alumni

Alumnus, John Schlaack, received his Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) in 2019 from the University of Michigan-Flint. John currently works in the IT/Accounting field in the automotive industry for the last 30+ years and is now starting his journey on his “second career” as a university instructor. He is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program. As our featured Alumni of the month, John comments on how his MSA degree will influence his future teaching career, advice for students or recent grads interested in the accounting field, and more!

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A:  Master of Science in Accounting (MSA), 2019

Q: Pursuing another degree?
A: Currently enrolled in a DBA program.

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? What is your job like day to day?
A: I am employed at Martinrea International as the Global IT Director. I have been employed in this position for the past 2 1/2 years.

I am responsible for the implementation, development, and support of Global ERP systems. This includes the creation of new functionalities to meet company or customers’ requirements.

Q: Describe your career path.
A: I have worked in the Accounting and IT functions in the automotive industry for over 30 years. Earlier I had the opportunity to teach at the university and am now completing my doctoral program in accounting to start my “second” career.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A: Always favored subjects that were analytical and have enjoyed the opportunity of being on global projects implementing financial systems.

Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree?
A: After graduating, I enrolled in a doctoral in accounting program. This MSA at UM-Flint and this doctoral program will help me prepare for my second career as a university instructor.

Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint? What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint?  
A: The need to interact with faculty and classmates to get a fuller picture of the subject matter.

Q: Who influenced you most during your time at UM-Flint and why?
A: Each professor was excellent and added to my education.

Q: Share your best college memory.
A: Each class initiated coursework online, and filled in the blanks when I got to attend class time and interact with instructors and fellow classmates.

Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare you for what you are doing today?
A: After graduating, I enrolled in a doctoral in accounting program. The MSA program at UM-Flint and this doctoral program will help me prepare for my second career as a university instructor.

Q: What is one of your favorite events you attended or classroom experiences at UM-Flint? Why?
A: In the Accounting Systems course, the professor gave an overview of setting up databases needed for the course final project. I was missing a few important steps. After sitting through his instruction, a light bulb went off!

Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself?
A: As I near completion of my first career in manufacturing accounting and information systems, I am finalizing my preparation for my second career in teaching the skills I have learned over the past number of years.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A: Completion of my MSA at UM-Flint, and the attendance of my family at the graduation.

Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
A: Having a strong understanding of accounting and system logic (i.e., database management) is crucial in all fields of business. Understand that education does not stop when you graduate. Continuing education and skill development never stops!

Q: Fun Facts!
A: Favorite vacation was a trip to Arizona for college and Cactus League baseball!

SOM Student Club recognized as 2021 Outstanding Student Organization at UM-Flint

While the past academic year was full of challenges and unknowns, a student organization at the UM-Flint School of Management rose above these obstacles to meet their goals in a virtual environment and received recognition at the University of Michigan-Flint.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) UM-Flint student chapter received two awards at the 2021 Celebrating Wolverine Excellence ceremony on Thursday, April 8, 2021. 

The ceremony is hosted by the Department of Student Involvement and Leadership and recognizes the contributions of a student organization that exhibits strong leadership skills, mission fulfillment, and quality contributions to the campus. 

SHRM received the Outstanding Student Organization Award. The co-advisors for SHRM, Brian Blume, Professor of Organizational Behavior & HR Management, and Gerald Knesek, Lecturer IV of Management, were awarded the Outstanding Student Organization Advisor(s).

Brian Blume (left) & Gerald Knesek (right)

The former SHRM President, Alexis Menard, BBA ‘21 in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management and Marketing, reflected on how SHRM built up to their success in 2021. 

“In Fall 2019, we focused on building a foundation for SHRM and in February 2020 we hosted our largest in-person event with 40 attendees at the Unconscious Bias in the Workplace event with Dr. Luke, Director of the Intercultural Center. Students from across campus came together to identify how bias and the processes of the unconscious mind can impact your decision-making,” said Menard. 

“This was the moment where we realized how much of an impact a student organization can have and we found a niche to fulfill at UM-Flint,” said Menard. 

SHRM’s mission is to help students at UM-Flint by providing educational, networking, volunteer, and leadership opportunities to their members. SHRM also assists all UM-Flint students with resumes/interviewing, offering student professional development, and more to help students efficiently prepare to get an internship or career opportunity while in college.

“One of the goals of SHRM is to help students make connections and advance in their professional/personal development. SHRM has the best faculty advisors helping us meet our mission. I’m delighted Brian and Gerry received the Outstanding Advisor Award because they really deserve it. They are both educators who go above and beyond to support students in and outside of the classroom. They are great mentors and I have been inspired and impacted by both of them,” said Menard.

The organization hosted seven monthly events in the 2020-2021 academic year, ranging from networking, panel discussions, speaking engagements on hot topics, and resume improvement. UM-Flint students and SHRM members also participated in their first SHRM case competition at SHRM UMICH and Greater Ann Arbor SHRM chapters. 

“Although COVID-19 has impacted many student organizations at UM-Flint, I strongly feel as though more people that weren’t originally able to commute to the campus have now been able to be involved,” said Blume, SHRM’s co-advisor. “SHRM has new members from around the nation and have seen engagement from students that lived one or more hours away from campus joining our virtual events.”

The SHRM officers will continue to cater to all members of the UM-Flint community when the University returns in-person in the fall. The organization also has more plans to engage online with members at the UM-Flint campus. 

SHRM Treasurer, Erik Johnson, BBA ‘23 in International Business and Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management, is working on an all-inclusive podcast that will anonymously interview people of all occupations about their careers in a tell all format. SHRM will use the stories of students and alumni to help guide members of the UM-Flint community. 

Another SHRM officer, Secretary, Elayna Moore, BBA ‘23 in Marketing and Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management, made great strides to improve SHRM’s online presence. She worked with the Office of Online & Digital Education to create a Blackboard group so the organization can collaborate and connect with each other in between meetings and offer more networking opportunities. In fall 2021, they plan to roll out more planned content such as discussion boards, videos for new members on the missions of SHRM, and post recorded events or meeting notes. 

“Overall, we were able to accomplish a lot being remote. We hosted our first annual HR Alumni Panel and invited UM-Flint alumni to present their experiences. We had two alumni present from out of state in California and New York and that’s something we couldn’t have done without the technology resources the campus has provided us,” said Menard. 

The SHRM faculty advisors, Brian Blume and Gerald Knesek, actively give the responsibility to the students in the organization for the daily operations, such as lining up speakers for events or advertising. The co-advisors give freedom to the members to pursue what interests them, but they also provide ideas or suggestions based on their combined expertise. 

In previous years, SHRM members would host a Rapid Resume event where SHRM offers detailed critiques and comments on resumes before career fairs. Blume suggested SHRM members host the event virtual during the Winter 2021 semester. The SHRM officers previously mentioned along with Vice President, Allison von Daggenhausen, BS ‘21 in Communications and minor in Human Resources Management, devised a plan to review resumes for two weeks in March 2021 with the help and guidance from Antonio Riggs, School of Management Career Planning Counselor. The SHRM officers reviewed 31 resumes of UM-Flint students from all disciplines and directly supported SHRM’s initiates that students are career-ready. 

In addition, Gerald Knesek suggested that SHRM officers attend a Civility Project session to see if this would be a good fit to bring to UM-Flint. The Civility Project features two journalists with opposing viewpoints on how to be more civil in your own life.

“The idea behind SHRM is to create better workplaces where all employees thrive. The Civility Project is a forum for modeling respect for each other and opposing viewpoints,” said Knesek. This turned out to be the largest SHRM event of the year to conclude the 2020/2021 academic year. 

“We had a great year thanks to the leadership provided by Alexis, the officers, and great participation from all the members. It really is the students that make the club successful,” said Blume and Knesek reflecting on SHRM accomplishments.