Category Archives: Alumni News

Maize and Blue recipient, cheerleader, and sorority sister lands incredible opportunity at PWC: September’s aMAIZEing Alumni

By Alexis Menard On September 26, 2019 11:20 am

Olivia Norfolk, BBA April ’18 in Accounting

Alumna, Olivia Norfolk, graduated from UM-Flint’s School of Management with a BBA in Accounting in April 2018. During her time at UM-Flint, Olivia received the distinguished Maize and Blue Award and the Plante Moran Outstanding Accounting Award in her graduating class. She also was involved with Greek life and a proud member of Sigma Sigma Sigma and Order of Omega. Olivia currently works for one of the Big Four auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, as a Risk Assurance Associate. Only one year after graduating from UM-Flint, she received her MBA and CPA certifications. As our featured Alumna, Olivia answers questions on why she chose UM-Flint, her path as a young businesswoman, and advice on how to pursue a career.

Why did you choose UM-Flint for your BBA?

UM-Flint gave me the smoothest transition from an out-of-state school as an incoming junior into the SOM. They worked with me to be able to stay on track to graduate in four years, and of course the Michigan name!

What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint?

Going through sorority recruitment and meeting some of my best friends

Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?

I kind of fell into it. I had a high school teacher that thought accounting would be a good field for me because I’m very structured and disciplined. I declared it as my major as a freshman and somehow never went back!

What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?

Definitely passing all four parts of the CPA Exam while simultaneously completing my MBA.

What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in Management?

It’s okay to not know what exactly you want to do or where you want to work, but it’s not okay to sit back and hope that an opportunity magically lands in your lap. If you don’t know how to get to where you want to be, ask someone. You (or your financial aid) pays a lot of money to have a pool of resources at your feet that can make you successful. Use them! If you think your resume sounds dumb because you’ve never worked a “real job,” ask a professor or someone in the career services office to help you. Ask your newly graduated friends what different fields or jobs are available at their workplace. Utilize your resources and take advantage of the connections you might not even realize you have. 

Fun Facts!

I just moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida

I was a cheerleader for three years of my college career 

I was a bartender for five years before starting my professional career  

An Entrepreneur within a Corporate Setting: July’s aMAIZEing Alumni

By Alexis Menard On July 19, 2019 11:15 am

Madison McCrum, BBA ’18 in Business Management with a focus in EIM.

Alumna, Madison McCrum, graduated from UM-Flint’s School of Management with a BBA in Business Management with a focus in EIM in 2018. Madison was involved with the Entrepreneurs Society and the Hagerman Center during her undergraduate studies. At the age of 22, Madison now works for a Fortune 500 company and has moved out of the state to work in North Carolina and Florida. She credits her decision to concentrate in entrepreneurship to her strong-willed personality. Having the go-getter attitude has impressed employers she has met. As our featured Alumna, Madison answers questions on why she chose UM-Flint, life after college, and advice for students interested in management. 

Why did you major in BBA Management with a focus on Entrepreneurship?

I chose a BBA with a focus in Entrepreneurship because as a strong willed individual I knew I would need the knowledge to one day pursue my own company. As a recent graduate however, employers have commented on how they love grads with an Entrepreneurship focus because they are impressed with our confidence and willingness to be a self starter! 

Why did you choose UM-Flint for your BBA? 

Initially, I would have to say I chose UM-Flint because my mother is a nursing professor there. However, what made me stay was how much I was challenged, particularly in the Entrepreneurship Society, Business Law class, and the multitude of business competitions I participated in, which later on impressed employers. 

What is one of your favorite experiences at UM-Flint? 

One of my favorite experiences I would have to say is just the day to day banter I could have with professors on an academic and personal level. They helped me achieve awards (Hagerman’s Zillion Solutions: University Improvement) and question why I was choosing the path I chose. Was I going to be challenged or become bored? Where did I see myself in 5-10 years? How do I better others by bettering myself?

Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?

 I chose to work supply chain in corporate retail because I worked full time in retail all throughout college. I am given pretty much free reign of how I want to own my departments and manage my staff. I have to make the calls on inventory management, product shipment windows, and seasonality time frames. My boss calls it, “an entrepreneur within a corporate setting.”

What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?

So far, my proudest accomplishment is not the fact that I have landed an amazing corporate job at 22 years old at a Fortune 500 company, nor moving to NC and FL for improving my career. My proudest accomplishment is that I can still call my favorite professor on campus, Dr. Witt, throw a scenario at him, and get his opinion. It’s the ties I have back home that make me most proud, that and Urban Meyer retiring. 

What advice would you give students that are thinking of pursuing a career in Management? 

My biggest words of advice would be to stay humble and hungry. No matter what goes on in your career, don’t burn bridges -including in college. Also, pursuing a management degree is phenomenal if you are willing to work very hard for it -stay hungry! You will only get what you put in for it. UM-Flint has more than enough opportunities for you to succeed. 

Fun Facts 

Since graduating, I have moved to North Carolina and Florida. I have adopted two black labs and love to go hiking! I am currently living in Florida and snorkel, go kayaking with manatees, or play beach volleyball with friends any chance I get! The coolest professor on campus is still my mom, Toni L. LaRocco (2nd place goes to Dr. Witt)! I am truly grateful for the memories I made UM-Flint -Go Blue! 

Alumni Visit – Jan. 26, 2019

Ziad Lajnef visited the School of Management to talk about his experiences working in the internal audits industry. He graduated from UM-Flint in 2002 with a BBA in Accounting with a Finance concentration. Shortly after, Lajnef went on to complete his MBA in 2003. During his undergrad at UM-Flint, he participated in a study abroad trip to Russia and visited the GM plant in Togliatti and the GM headquarters in Moscow. He is currently the Internal Audit Director for General Motors and oversees annual risk assessment and execution of the audit plan for North and South America. Lajef opened his presentation by giving advice to current students by encouraging them to reach out to their professor for their guidance. Lajnef said “Students at UM-Flint have a unique advantage. At a bigger school, you don’t have as much contact with your professors. Here you have direct access to ask professor about whatever you want. Use them to guide you for what you want to do in the future. Use their experience to your advantage to get the most out of your education.”

In his presentation, The Foundational Pillars for Establishing Trust with Internal Audit Customers, Lajnef elaborated on three principles of internal audits. First was to deeply consider strategies to use. Second principle is to think about the talent and diversity of the team. Lastly focused on the outlook on short-term and long-term for tactical planning and processing. Later in his presentation, Lajnef spoke about the importance of analyzing data and knowing the market you are in. His advice was to, “Become date savvy. The more you’re involved and knowledgeable in the market, the better off you’ll be.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Lajnef’s past experiences as a chef or his journey into the business world, he was featured in the fall 2018 SOM Business Magazine as the alumni spotlight! Click the link and go to page 9 to read more: https://go.umflint.edu/BusinessMagazine2018

If you’re interested in being an alumni speaker or volunteering for our upcoming events, please email Anna Swartz at annas@umflint.edu to find how you can give back to the UM-Flint community!

UM-Flint School of Management Launches Alumni and Mentor Group

 

Teresa Lindhurst speaking at the ESA Dinner

On April 4, UM-Flint School of Management alumna Teresa Lindhurst launched the alumni group – Entrepreneurs Society Affinity. Held in the Northbank Center Grand Ballroom, guests of 150 included current School of Management students, alumni, and members of the Flint business community joined to celebrate the unveiling of the Entrepreneurs Society Affinity (ESA). Click here to read full article.

Lunch with an Entrepreneur featuring Steve Whitener

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Steve Whitener, University of Michigan-Flint Alumni and entrepreneur, spoke to students on Dec. 1 about the importance of entrepreneurship.

 

More about Steve Whitener 

Started Real Estate Company as a UM-Flint Student
In 1973, while attending UM-Flint, Mr. Whitener purchased an apartment building. Upon graduating in 1977, he went on to acquire several additional rental properties. While managing several real estate holdings, he led a highly successful career in sales. This led to Mr. Whitener founding National Systems Installers.

Became a Technology Entrepreneur
In 1993, he founded National Systems Installers (NSI), a company that provides infrastructure cabling services to corporations. Six years later, he formed Nuspire Networks, which designs and offers monitoring and security systems. His business works with Fortune 500 companies and has 300-plus retail operations. He is Chairman of the Board for NSI and is a former Chairman of Nuspire, a multimillion dollar company he recently sold.

SOM Alumna Michelle Goff Named CFO of the Year

The School of Management congratulates alumna Michelle Goff, BBA ’83, the CFO and senior vice president of R.L. Polk & Co., for being awarded CFO of the Year – large private company by Crain’s Detroit Business.

Goff received her BBA from UM-Flint in 1983 before continuing her education on the Ann Arbor campus. Since receiving her MBA in 1986, she has held a number of senior finance positions for large companies.

In her role as CFO and senior vice president of R.L. Polk & Co., Michelle Goff oversees more than 70 employees and a $19 million dollar budget. Her team is responsible for mapping out the future of the company’s financial operations, including risk-management, securities, real estate, insurance, taxes, accounting, assets, banking, credit, and treasury activities.

The Crain’s Detroit Business decision to award Goff the CFO of the Year recognition stems largely from insights she provided Polk in 2009, and the leadership role she flourished in when actions were taken based on those same insights.

In 2007, R.L. Polk & Co. invested an undisclosed sum to acquire a substantial stake in RoadToData, a Swiss automotive price and specifications data supplier with operations in 10 countries. Soon after the acquisition, Polk found itself dumping cash into RoadToData when the auto industry nearly collapsed during the economic recession. With profitability projections sliding into the distant future, Goff and other senior executives called for divestiture and a refocus on Polk’s core operations.

Although there were a variety of viewpoints amongst Polk leadership team on which direction was the best option for the future, the difficult decision was made, and Goff was called on to conduct the financial and legal aspects of the RoadToData closure in 2009. “It was a great decision in hindsight,” said Goff, as Polk’s profitability from core operations increased 31 percent between 2009 and 2013, and projects to perform even higher in 2014.

R.L. Polk & Co. assembles comprehensive automotive sales and forecasting data. The company also provides vehicle recall services for auto manufacturers, presents annual awards and has a diversity marketing services arm. In 2012, Polk generated $401 million in revenue.

Michelle Tolin, BBA Alumn, Receives Scholarship Award

Michelle Tolin, a BBA alumn was presented with the Detroit Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors Scholarship Award. Qualified candidates submitted a three-page essay on the following topic: Discuss the benefits of using social media in the internal audit process and provide specific examples.

Michelle is the first student from U-M Flint to submit an essay. Michelle received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in Accounting and a GPA of 3.81. She is the national reporter for Beta Alpha Psi and will be the incoming Treasurer. She is also a member of Beta Gamma Sigma. She also volunteered with VITA and various food banks.