Angela O’Rourke earned her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Operations Management and Finance from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2020. Currently, she works at Mid Michigan Pride (MMP) Painting as an estimator. Every day she’s doing something different from looking at blueprints, working with customers, or on-site to evaluate the conditions of a project. As our featured alumni of the month, Angela explains why she choose UM-Flint, how her education prepared her for her current job, and shares her love for the outdoors!
Q: Degree(s) and graduation year: A: Bachelors of Business Administration in Operations Management and Finance
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 currently work at Mid Michigan Pride (MMP) Painting. I am an estimator and have been with them for about 9 months now. I look at blueprints all day and do what we call a takeoff. Which is figuring out the square footage of walls, ceiling, steel bracing, columns, floors…really anything that can be painted, epoxied, or have a wallpaper or covering put over it, I have to measure it. Once I have all my measurements, I have to put them together and figure out what surface gets what covering and how much that would cost.
In between doing the takeoffs, I deal with filing away daily paperwork and downloading new jobs, and getting them in files. I return phone calls and emails to customers about any questions they have reached out with. I also take care of submitting product samples and data sheets to be approved before we can use them on sight.
Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in? A: Honestly, this career fell in my lap. I had no idea it really existed to the extent of what it is. I went into my interview to become an administrative assistant and walked out hired as an apprentice estimator. Now that I am in it, I am choosing to stay in it because it’s something new every day. It keeps my brain stimulated and doesn’t get boring. Some days I am in the office looking at blueprints and some days I might be on a job site looking at the condition.
Q: Why did you choose to attend UM-Flint for your degree? A: U of M was the school I had always dreamed of going to as a kid. I ended up taking a different path and attended Central Michigan for my first year of college. It wasn’t a good fit and I came home to get my associate’s at Mott Community College. Then once I was ready for my bachelor’s I decided to give U of M a try and applied. Once accepted I started towards a teaching degree before quickly realizing that it wasn’t what I wanted to do and switched to business.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint? A: I learned that you always have to keep striving to do better than you did yesterday. Sometimes you have to pick up the slack for others because there will be times that you need someone to do the same for you.
Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare you for what you are doing today? A: I learned that you had to find a way to get the work done no matter what obstacles might be in the way. That it is ok to ask for help and admit if you don’t understand something. It prepared me to know when I need to take the lead and when I to give someone else the lead. That you have to speak up to be heard.
Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field? A: That it is a harder job than it sounds. There is so much more to it than meets the eye. I will actually be going to estimating school in the next month or two before training under a second estimator. This way I can learn many different ways to do the job and find what is comfortable for me.
Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself? A: Long term goal of my position would be to become head of the estimating department.
Q: Fun Facts! A: I have two favorite vacations to date. One with just my husband when we went to Peru for our honeymoon. We got to eat dinner and sleep in a pod on the side of a mountain that we climbed. We got to do a day hike on the Inca trail to see Machu Picchu and then see the sunrise over Machu Picchu the following morning. We got to see rainbow mountain ad stay in the Amazon forest for 3 days. We held a sloth and anaconda while there and fished for piranha (which tastes very good).
My second favorite was our family vacation when we got to take our two kids and my brother out west for almost two weeks. We camped in the mountains and saw many historical sights. We also did a lot of hiking and found an ice cave that the kids loved.
Q: What is something people may not know about you? A: I love to go backpacking, and I mean in the sense of carrying everything I need with me and sleeping under the stars in a hammock. Most people are shocked to hear that.
“The Flint & Genesee Chamber is a determined network of community members. Its efforts bring a wide range of valuable resources to individuals and businesses in Genesee County, all for the purpose of supporting our local economy and community members. The Entrepreneurs Society and School of Management are delighted to work with the Chamber to amplify this effort,” said Dr. Michael Witt, PharmD, JD, University of Michigan-Flint, Entrepreneur in Residence and Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Business Law.
The Chamber is one of four divisions of Flint & Genesee Group, which supports the region through its commitment to developing business, talent, and place. The organization – which also includes Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance, Flint & Genesee Education & Talent, and Explore Flint & Genesee – envisions Genesee County being a top-five community in Michigan based on jobs, talent, livability, and equity by 2040.
The University’s partnership with the Chamber kicks off this collaboration with a new video and podcast series, Genesee County Visionaries.This series focuses on the role local business and non-profit leaders play in growing the Greater Flint area.
“This series is a great way to recognize the business leaders in our community and learn more about their visions and what drives them to succeed,” said Andrew Younger, Executive Director of the Flint & Genesee Chamber.
The first episode, launched on March 8, 2022, highlights Dick Skaff, CEO/President of Skaff Furniture Carpet One. A member of the Flint & Genesee Chamber, Skaff is renowned for its catchy family-orientated TV commercials and high-quality furniture and flooring products. Moderated by Witt, the pair discuss the over 100-year-old company’s roots in Michigan and its extensive philanthropic activities in the Flint Community. Skaff has raised over $180,000 through their Save and Share program to support local charities, which include the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Carriage Town Ministries, Whaley Children’s Center, and Communities First.
Genesee County Visionaries can be found on Anchor, Spotify, Youtube, and Facebook with future plans of being released on Apple Podcast and Google Podcast.
“The series will also highlight the many opportunities available for our talented young professionals to grow and have a successful career here in Genesee County,” said Younger.
“The Genesee County Visionariesseries is just the beginning,” Witt continued. “In the near future, we want to invite hundreds of UM-Flint students to Flint & Genesee Chamber career fairs to keep top talent in the region, expand areas for student memberships, coordinate expert UM-Flint faculty presentations for Chamber members, and much more. We see this as a win-win for everyone, especially for our students. They are the future leaders of Flint.”
About the School of Management The School of Management, established in 1975, is the oldest professional school on the Flint campus. The school is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. AACSB International accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in management education. The School’s mission is to deliver innovative high-quality programs, intellectual research contributions, high standards of integrity and ethics, and engagement in local and global communities.
About the Entrepreneurs Society The Entrepreneurs Society is an official academic student organization at the University of Michigan-Flint School of Management, founded in 2008 by Dr. Michael Witt, PharmD, JD. The Entrepreneurs Society seeks to offer guidance to students to help transform their creative ideas into productive, new ventures.
About the Flint & Genesee Chamber Flint & Genesee Chamber, a division of Flint & Genesee Group, is a premiere business advocacy entity that helps local business owners and entrepreneurs grow their network and visibility, develop their employees, influence public policy, and works with its partners to foster a strong business climate in Flint and Genesee County. For more information, visit flintandgenesee.org, and check us out on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Alumnus, Lee Allen, earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2014. During his time as a student, he was involved with Greek Life, Black Student Union, and studied abroad in China. Lee is the owner of Bau-house located in Downtown Flint and a business analyst at General Motors. Through entrepreneurship, he is able to express his creativity in fashion and educate others on brand development. As a role model within the Flint community, he was selected to be featured in the Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male at the Flint Institute of Arts. As our featured alumni of the month, Lee explains his passion for two industries – fashion and automotive, his life as an entrepreneur and working at GM, gives advice on the importance of internships during college.
Q: Degree(s) and graduation year: A: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) 2014 Organizational and supply chain management (M.S) from another institution
Q: Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars during your college experience? If so, what organizations/clubs? A: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., NPHC, and Black Student Union
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 currently a business analyst at General Motors located at our headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. I have worked at General Motors for almost 7 years holding a variety of positions. I’m also a proud entrepreneur within downtown Flint, operating a brick-and-mortar space: Bau-house. Bau-house is a lifestyle retail store that focuses on curating streetwear, sneakers, and art. The store also places a heavy emphasis on fashion and design education through our brand development workshops.
My job as a business analyst is to review and manage budgets for US manufacturing facilities. As it relates to day-to-day tasks, crunching numbers is the name of the game to find cost-saving opportunities for GM manufacturing sites. I love my 9-5, I work on a diverse team, and I get the opportunity to travel.
Once my day has ended with General Motors, I feed my design and retailing passion! Bau-house allows me to express my creativity and indulge in the world of fashion. It brings forth the opportunity to support my city from an economic development standpoint as well. Currently, the store is under renovation, so I am painting walls, designing clothing, selecting fixtures, planning interior layouts, and sourcing products in preparation for a soft opening in April or May of 2022.
Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in? A: Growing up I had a passion surrounding two industries – fashion and automotive. At one point in my life, I stated that I would not work in the automotive industry because everyone in my family worked for General Motors. I had my mindset on working for a fashion house or a global retail chain. I made the decision based on where I landed my internship for my senior year of college. My internship at Inteva products LLC fueled my drive towards the automotive industry and introduced me to General Motors. Once I became confident in my position at GM, I set my sights on fulfilling my love for fashion and retailing by opening my own space. It is my vision that this space will become a creative hub for design enthusiasts.
Q: Why did you choose to attend UM-Flint for your degree? A: My family always thought that the University of Michigan offered the best level of education. I originally selected UM-Flint as a steppingstone to get on the campus of Ann Arbor. After about two years of attending classes at UM-Flint, I had a change of heart related to leaving. I was won over by the amazing culture surrounding student life, the support of professors, and the administration alike.
Q: Share your best college memory A: My best college memory and life experience was going to China. My original major was international business, and it was a requirement to either secure an internship or study abroad. I had already landed an internship, but I wanted to travel and see the world. Going to China was a life-changing experience for me because it taught me how to appreciate my culture and country. Plus, I had the opportunity to travel with one of my favorite cousins, LaTresha Reed. She is a proud graduate of UM-Flint School of Management as well.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint? A: One of the most important things I learned at UM-Flint is that real-life experience is the true professor. No matter what class I attended within the school of management, each professor stresses the importance of applied work experience. Projects were always geared towards real companies and solving active problems within those companies. The hands-on experience via internships and projects helped me to develop professional skill sets and business acumen that course textbooks could not teach. I learned that the more work experience I gained the better equipped I’ll be for my future career.
Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field? A: My only advice would be to gain as much hands-on experience as possible via internship and/or co-op opportunities. I cannot express enough the importance of real-life work experience during a student’s undergraduate journey.
Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far? A: One of my proudest accomplishments thus far in my life is becoming a father and husband. My daughter drives my motivation for success in everything that I do. Recently I was selected to be a part of an exhibit within the Flint Institute of Arts titled, Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male. The FIA was the first museum I was introduced to as a child and to have my picture hanging on the walls, I was left speechless. It was an awesome experience to be able to share that moment with my family. As it relates to my career, it would be landing a role at General Motors headquarters.
Q: Fun Facts! A: I went to elementary school, high school, and college in Flint. I am a proud graduate of the Flint educational system, a true Flintstone =) !
The School of Management (SOM) at the University of Michigan-Flint received continued accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International, the premier accrediting body for business schools worldwide. Institutions that earn accreditation confirm their commitment to quality and continuous improvement through a rigorous and comprehensive peer review. With reaffirmation, the School of Management is celebrating more than 30 continuous years of accreditation by AACSB International.
AACSB International accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in business education, and it aligns with the School of Management’s mission of continuous commitment to improvement through the delivery of innovative high-quality programs, intellectual research contributions, high standards of integrity and ethics, and engagement in local and global communities.
Since the five-year continuous improvement review, the School of Management has introduced online availability of the following programs: Master of Business Administration, MS in Accounting, MS in Leadership and Organizational Dynamics, and Bachelor of Business Administration programs. In addition, UM-Flint’s Online BBA degree, ranked #1 in Michigan for 2021 and 2022 and top 40 in the country by U.S. News & World Report, is now much more affordable for out-of-state residents. The online bachelor’s program, with a lowered out-of-state tuition now just 10% above that of in-state, represents one of the best values in Michigan and across the country. Reflecting market trends, the School has also created new undergraduate programs by introducing a two-course special topic on Business Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, adding a new Business Analytics minor, and developing a joint (4-1) BBA/MBA program where qualified undergraduate BBA students can complete an MBA degree with up to 21 fewer credits than if the MBA degree were pursued separately.
AACSB International credits the School of Management with strongly supporting students in their pursuit of international experiences. SOM has developed its own relationship with international institutions which lead to two new student exchange programs in France and Germany in addition to the other partnered universities in Belgium, Croatia, Turkey, Taiwan, Poland, Romania, and Sweden.
The School of Management has expanded the online availability of professional development and networking opportunities, in coordination with the undergraduate career development requirement aimed at differentiating UM-Flint’s BBA program and enhancing students ‘career preparation.
AACSB International found that the School of Management actively supports young interdisciplinary entrepreneurs’ ambititions by offering a general education course on introduction to entrepreneurship and offers many programs and activities through the Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation such as an idea pitch “Zillion Solutions” competition and the Summer Entrepreneurship Institute for high school students. The Center works closely with the Entrepreneurs Society student organization which has its own entrepreneurship speaker series.
School of Management Interim Dean Yener Kandogan and faculty members Mark Simon, Cathy Miller, Keith Kelley, and Scott Johnson were critical to the successful completion of the continuous improvement review report. We thank everyone involved for their time and the AACSB peer review team that evaluated the School.
Alumnus, Mahmood Al Madan, graduated in 2017 from UM-Flint’s School of Management with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Finance and Accounting with a minor in Economics. During his time as a student, he was a member of the Financial Management Association and worked part-time as a Research Analyst at the UM-Flint’s Office of Research and Economic Development. Mahmood is an Operation and Accounting Manager at Vision Transport Logistics where he handles the supply chain of the trucking company.
As our featured alumni of the month, Mahmood gives advice on how to push through public speaking fears, talks about choosing UM-Flint because of the personal, smaller classroom settings and his career path from sales assistant/merchandiser to where he is now and how team projects at UM-Flint helped him prepare for his career.
Q: Degree(s) and graduation year: A: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Finance and Accounting with a minor in Economics, 2017
Q: Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars during your college experience? A: Financial Management Association
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: Currently working as Operation and Accounting Manager at Vision Transport Logistics. I have been working here since 2019. With a dedicated fleet of 15 trucks, Vision Transport Logistics, offers flexible and efficient drayage services.
Working in a trucking company and being part of the supply chains, which acts as the veins of the economy, makes our daily routines different and exciting. My team and I work closely with our fleet drivers to make sure the containers get delivered to warehouses in a timely and smooth manner. We solve different problems that arise every day with truck drivers, railroads, and equipment providers. Monitoring the arrival time of containers and arranging delivery schedules with warehouses. Also, keeping a watchful eye that each driver is following the department of transportation working hours efficiently and maximizing their productivity while following safety standards. Making sure, with top priority, our customers get updated on their shipment delivery and invoicing in a timely manner.
Q: Describe your career path A: The first job in my career path was after I finished my English program in Canada for two and half years which was a Sales Assistant and Merchandiser at Kimberly-Clark. I was visiting many Supermarkets checking the inventory and talking to customers and warehouse teams. Working hand in hand with the sales, accounting, and finance team, I had built curiosity, I had the desire to start college and be able to work in the professional Accounting and Finance sector.
During my third year at the University of Michigan-Flint, I worked part-time as a Research Analyst at the UM-Flint’s Office of Research and Economic Development. During this position, I worked with a team in gathering data on businesses developments and economical needs in the thumb region of Michigan. We also were a part of asset mapping to identify regional assets and evaluate each asset’s impact on that region. After graduating, I had taken on a few jobs as a bookkeeper and Uber driver which have both helped me become more social and gave me practice becoming familiar with handling books for businesses, which lead to my current job in Vision Transport Logistics.
I was hired first as a Bookkeeper after the books were left for months without being managed. I have taken on the role and cleaned up the bookkeeping and brought things up to date. Taking on a role like that has helped me understand every aspect of bookkeeping and more specifically in the business. With that being said, I have been able to oversee day-to-day costs and be able to reduce the cost of the business most specifically during the pandemic. After being able to manage to reduce the cost, I was assigned as Operation Manager/Accounting Manager.
Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in? A: Working at Kimberly-Clark as my first job and talking with others from the accounting and finance team had built interest in this career path.
Q: Why did you chooseUM-Flint for your degree? A: I was originally advised by an academic agent overseas of the University of Michigan-Flint being a regional campus of the University of Michigan. Attracted to the living cost being cheaper in the Flint area. Being on a smaller campus makes the classes more personalized and instructors can give more attention to students on a personal level. This made it possible to build relationships with some of the instructors and get different types of advice and wisdom which has helped my personal and academic level.
Q: What is one of your favorite events you attended or classroom experiences at UM-Flint? Why? A: One of my favorite classes I have taken at UM-Flint was a class called First-Year Experience. It was a course that examines real-world problems from a multidisciplinary perspective. In that, we were given many assignments that genuinely helped me understand and respect the difference in people who came from different social statuses, religions, economical levels, races, etc. I would say this class has helped me stay reasonably constant throughout life.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint? A: I have learned many things at UM-Flint that have had a large impact on who I am today along with my career path. The two most important would be public speaking and team projects. In many of our business classes, we were assigned to give presentations as assignments. At first, I hated it because I had glossophobia, but after having to do it for a few classes it certainly helped me overcome my fear. These group assignments reinforced these skills that are relevant to both group and individual work. Many of these skill sets I still rely on in my current work such as strong communication skills.
Q: Who influenced you most during your time at UM-Flint and why? A: My family and friends along with some of the instructors.
Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare youfor what you are doing today? A: Many of my business classes have given me the knowledge and fundamentals of accounting which I use in everyday operations from financial statements and cash flows. Group projects and presentations helped me become more confident and a better team leader by improving my public speaking skills.
Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field? A: If asked to give any advice from personal experience it would be socializing and building a network. When you socialize regularly in college, you tend to develop deep and lasting relationships. Studying abroad may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a college student. Last, but not least, seek internship opportunities!
Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself? A: My long-term goal when I was a student is completely different from what it is right now, and I am also sure it will be different in a few years from now. However, the opportunities are endless, and my goal is to continue to grow.
Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far? A: Studying abroad and owning my own business.
Q: What is something people may not know about you? A: In my spare time I enjoy cooking and spending time with family and friends. I love going on road trips or traveling with my wife and exploring different countries, cultures, music, and food.
Alumnus, Raymond Pirouz, graduated with honors in May 2021 from UM-Flint’s School of Management with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and was awarded Most Outstanding MBA Student from his graduating cohort. During his time as a student, he founded a graduate/alumni social network for SOM students. Raymond is an Instructor at the MSU Broad College of Business in the Marketing Department where he’s able to share his passion for learning with others continuing their education. In 2021, Raymond earned four teaching awards including the MBA Faculty of the Year award by the Broad College of Business.
As our featured alumni of the month, Raymond gave insight on what led him to begin teaching, why he chose UM-Flint for his MBA, his favorite classroom experiences, and how his UM-Flint education impacts the courses he teaches as marketing faculty at MSU.
Q: Degree(s) and graduation year: A: Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing and Innovation Management, 2021
Q: Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars during your college experience? A: I founded http://www.UMF-SOM.net, a social network for graduate students of the UM-Flint School of Management. Even though it was an unofficial initiative, it was recognized by the School of Management and is currently listed along with other student organizations.
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 currently a Broad College of Business Instructor in the Marketing Department at Michigan State University. I have taught at MSU Broad now for a little over three years, though I have been teaching for a little over 25 years at a number of universities including the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California (Irvine) and the Ivey Business School at Western University (London, Ontario Canada) among others.
I love my job because I love learning and I love sharing what I am passionate about with others. So, I get to share my excitement with young people (well, younger people than me for the most part) who are on a journey of growth and advancement.
Q: Describe your career path A: My undergrad was in Graphic & Packaging Design and I began work as an Art Director in an interactive ad agency during the Dot Com Boom (early dinosaur days of the internet). After a year in advertising, I left to write a few books and became a published author who had the opportunity to speak at conferences and be interviewed on the radio. One thing lead to another and I started teaching (which is something I always wanted to eventually do even when I was a student in design school). A little over 25 years later and I finally had the chance to earn my MBA after spending so many years teaching other MBA students.
Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in? A: Teaching is a passion to me. It’s one of the rare occupations in life where I know I am making a positive difference in the lives of other people, no question about it. I also love the idea of higher education: One of the few opportunities we have created as a human species wherein people of various socioeconomic and other backgrounds willingly come together in peace and harmony for the pursuit of self-improvement. There are few things in this life that reach that level of authenticity and purity in my opinion, and I want to be a part of that.
Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field? A: I actually don’t think that teaching is for everyone, and I doubt most MBA students want to go into teaching. For those who do, however, don’t be like me since I definitely did not follow the prescribed path for a career in academia, nor is my role as Instructor necessarily esteemed within the ivory tower. I am not a Ph.D. researcher, but that is what I recommend young people pursue if they are serious about academia.
Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself? A: I am happy to continue teaching for the next 15-20 years before I retire.
Q: Why did you chooseUM-Flint for your degree? A: I appreciated UM-Flint SOM’s flexible modality that enabled busy professionals like me the opportunity to learn remotely while also having the opportunity to attend in-person sessions during weekend residencies.
Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare youfor what you are doing today? A: My experience at UM-Flint was a deep-dive ethnography of the MBA student experience, which has been invaluable to my role as a marketing faculty at Michigan State University, teaching MBA and undergraduate students. The experience enabled me to literally put myself in the shoes of my students and to appreciate their trials, tribulations, expectations, wants, needs, and desires firsthand. One can not put a price on such insight.
Q: 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: What is one of your favorite events you attended or classroom experiences at UM-Flint? Why? A: One of my favorite classroom experiences at UM-Flint SOM was during my final year where I was in a team that competed against other teams in our capstone strategy class, managing an international sneaker retailer brand through an online simulation. The experience afforded a roller coaster of emotions, but we did manage to come out on top and I learned a lot from the team dynamics.
Q: Who influenced you most during your time at UM-Flint and why? A: During my time at UM-Flint, I was most influenced by my peers and friends in the program. We laughed, struggled, and learned from each other and they remain people I can connect with today if I needed to.
Q: Share your best college memory A: Meeting other MBA students during weekend residency and hanging out in-between and after class.
Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far? A: After 25 years of teaching, I miraculously earned the following teaching awards in the same year as I graduated with my MBA:
MBA Faculty of the Year, 2021 Broad College of Business, MSU
Instructor of Excellence, Undergraduate Required Courses, 2021 Michigan State University
Instructor of Excellence, Undergraduate Electives, 2021 Michigan State University
Instructor of Excellence, Full-Time MBA Program, 2021 Michigan State University
Q: What is something people may not know about you? A: As an undergrad, I took advantage of an exchange term opportunity with a now-defunct Swiss campus of my design school. I spend a few months in one of the most expensive and beautiful countries on this planet, touring Switzerland on its pristine and on-time trains. It remains among the highlights of my life.
The University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women (CEW+) will be honoring a UM-Flint School of Management student at the 2021 Center for the Education of Women Virtual Awards Celebration. The event will be acknowledging 85 scholarship recipients and 10 graduate fellows from the three UM campuses including Reva Spikener, who is receiving the Margaret Dow Towsley Scholarship.
The 2021-22 cohort being recognized are student parents and primary caregivers, students who are returning to the classroom after a prolonged interruption, students who are underrepresented in STEM fields, first-generation, international students, and students who have overcome great obstacles in order to achieve their dream of earning a degree in higher education.
Margaret Dow Towsley, one of the named scholarships being awarded at CEW+, has opened countless doors for women and children by paving the way for equality for women. She was the first woman elected to the Ann Arbor City Council, one of the first persons in Ann Arbor to acknowledge the special needs of children and working mothers, a major force in creating a gender-integrated Ann Arbor YMCA, and helped establish the Women’s City Club.
Spikener is widely known as a committed servant leader on the UM-Flint campus, in her church, and as part of her sorority. She consistently inspires others and demonstrates “strong will, determination, and follow-through.”
Spikener became pregnant with her fourth child while completing her bachelor’s degree. She also took on additional caregiving responsibilities during this time. Despite these life changes, she persisted with her education and would frequently bring her daughters with her to class and exams to make it work. She graduated cum laudewith a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in mathematics from Marygrove College.
Over the next 10 years, Spikener worked several jobs to independently support her children. She attempted to return to school in 2015, but lacked the necessary childcare support to complete the program.
Spikener has such determination and persistence at her current employer that she earned four promotions within six years. She one day aspires to reach a director-level position. While working full-time as a human resources manager, Spikener is earning her master’s degree in Leadership and Organizational Dynamics (MSLOD) at the University of Michigan – Flint and is an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
“I believe with God all things are possible no matter the odds, no matter the circumstances, no matter what others believe. Our lives have a great purpose,” said Spikener reflecting on her experiences.
Recently, Spikener was approached to be a board member of the Black Defense Force. This organization aims to provide legal services for black individuals in the community with low socioeconomic status. She is proud to lead by example for her children as a lifelong learner and difference-maker in her community.
CEW+ is proud to name Reva Spikener a Margaret Dow Towsley Scholar. The Margaret Dow Towsley Scholars will be recognized on Thursday, November 11, 2021, from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Zoom. The ceremony will include readings of short excerpts describing scholars’ academic or personal journeys, and break-out rooms to celebrate each scholarship.
Alumnus, Trumaine Patrick graduated from the UM-Flint School of Management in 2014 with his BBA in Accounting. He continued his education at UM-Flint and received his Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) in 2020. During his time as a student, Trumaine was the Beta Alpha Psi Vice President, Assistant Coach of the UM-Flint Club Football, and volunteered in the UM-Flint Tax Preparation Service (VITA).
Trumaine currently works as an Accountant Associate at UM-Flint Department of Financial Services & Budget and has over six years of accounting experience and banking experience. As our featured alumni of the month, Trumaine gives insight on why he chose UM-Flint and accounting for his degrees, the professor that impacted his education the most, and helpful advice for students interested in pursuing a career in Accounting!
Q: Degree(s) and graduation year: A: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting, 2014 Master of Science in Accounting (MSA), 2020
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’m currently working at the University of Michigan – Flint as an Accountant Associate. I’ve been in this position since May 2021. Prior to this position, I worked at CS Partners as an Accountant for 6 years.
My job on a day to day basis consists of creating, reviewing, and uploading journal entries; working on weekly and monthly financial reports for specific departments, and meeting with the specific departments to analyze and discuss the monthly financial reports.
Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in? A: I chose to go into the career path of an accountant because I have always had a great interest and love for accounting. I enjoy working on budgets, completing monthly reports, and dealing with numbers and figures on a daily basis. During my time working at JPMorgan Chase Bank, I realized that I enjoyed being a part of working on the weekly financial reports, auditing each teller to make sure that their cash drawer balanced, and assisting customers on how to budget and manage their accounts. Because of experiences like these, I decided to attend UM-Flint and pursue accounting. I felt and believed that by receiving an accounting degree from UM-Flint, doors would be open for accounting opportunities.
Q: Why did you choose UM-Flint for your degree? A: I always wanted to attend the University of Michigan as it is one of the top universities in the country. The university prides itself on being the Leaders and Best, and I wanted to be a part of its tradition. In addition, there were a few factors as to why I chose to attend UM-Flint. First, UM-Flint has one of the top business programs in the country. Second, UM-Flint offered flexible class options and schedules where I was able to take classes while still continue to work. Third, the campus of UM-Flint was closer to home which made the drive from home or work to the campus manageable.
Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare you for what you are doing today? A: My education at UM-Flint has prepared me tremendously. Since receiving my Bachelor’s Degree from UM-Flint, I’ve been working in the field of accounting. Because of the excellent teachings from each professor along with the required courses taken, I’ve been able to apply all of the knowledge and training received from UM-Flint to my work experience which includes CS Partners for 6 years and currently here at UM-Flint.
Q: Who influenced you most during your time at UM-Flint and why? A: During my time at UM-Flint, I was highly influenced by Dr. Keith Moreland who was the Professor of Accounting. I learned so much from him as he would challenge me in his classes daily to prepare, study hard, and work hard. I gained so much knowledge as Dr. Moreland was extremely knowledgeable and had a great passion for his profession. Seeing and experiencing those traits inspired me to always have a thirst for learning more and gaining knowledge about my career along with having a great passion for my profession and purpose.
Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far? A: One of my proudest accomplishments so far is completing and receiving my accounting degree from UM-Flint and applying the degree to my current occupation as an Accountant Associate at UM-Flint.
Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field? A: My advice for current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in accounting would be to inquire and learn more about the field of accounting which would include actions such as meeting with a former and/or current accountant at an accounting firm, talking with your professors at UM-Flint, and speaking with an alumni who is currently working as an accountant or working in the field of accounting. By performing these types of actions, not only would you gain a better understanding of the field of accounting, but the potential meetings and conversations could lead to gaining a mentor and/or open doors to internships. As for talking with your professors, it would be great to develop a rapport with them. When outside of class time, inquire and ask more in-depth questions about the field of accounting.
Q: Fun Facts! A: I’m a big sports fan especially with football. Also, I’m a big Michigan sports fan as I want each individual and team to excel in every sport from football to softball. However, I’m a huge football fan as I have a passion for Michigan football!
Danielle Mauter earned her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing with a minor in graphic design from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2014. During her time as a student, Danielle had multiple internships, was a co-founder of the Marketing and Advertising Student Professionals club, and participated in other off-campus activities like coaching for a high school color guard squad and competing in the Genesee County Fair open exhibit classes. Danielle is currently the Chief of Marketing and Communications at the Huron-Clinton Metroparks which serves five southeast Michigan counties. She oversees marketing staff, improves media relations and partnerships in the region, and implements future-facing goals for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. As our featured alumni of the month, Danielle describes her career path, her favorite memories as a student, why she went into the marketing field, and gives advice for those who want to pursue a career in marketing!
Q: Degree(s) and graduation year: A: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing with a minor in graphic design, 2014
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 currently the Chief of Marketing and Communications at the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. I have been here since February 2019 (2.5 years). One of America’s premier metropolitan park systems, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks have served the people of Southeast Michigan since 1940. Managed by the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, the Metroparks are made up of 13 properties in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties.
As much as I hate a cliché – it’s true that my job is different every day. I manage a small team and together we are responsible for promoting the Metroparks brand and communicating with the public and partners about activities, programs, events, and the general park experience. We maintain all the social media and web presence as well as communication pieces in print, digital, TV/Video, radio, and out-of-home spaces. Some days I spend time with my graphic designs reviewing and brainstorming ideas for ad artwork to fit our brand identity and then I shift to answering media phone calls, completing interviews, and writing press releases. Then other days I spend time in our parks capturing photos and generating content. Still other days I may spend with our organizations’ leadership team creating the “big picture” ideas of where the organization needs to be or go in the future and putting together our budget and ideas for the upcoming year. It is a truly rewarding job that always keeps me on my toes.
Q: Describe your career path. A: My career path started while I was still in college. I consider the five years I spent working part-time at Menards during school to really be the start of it. I was a shy kid in high school, but working in retail forced me to talk to customers and brought me out of my shell. I saw how merchandising worked and developed sales pitches to help customers finish their home improvement projects.
From there, all but one of my positions have been the first of their kind. I have stepped into roles that organizations have just created and have spent the majority of my career building brands and campaigns for organizations that created marketing departments or roles to help grow their business.
At the end of my second year of business school, I scored an internship with a small local business that organized and promoted fine art and craft shows and was looking to grow into new types of events. This was my first real-world experience in marketing where I was responsible for managing business social media accounts, booking and creating ad campaigns, organizing event details, and helping with bookkeeping. There were times that I was doing a lot of self-teaching, but it was a job I loved and really excelled at. I ended up staying with the company part-time for about 2 years.
After my first year with the show promotion company, I applied for and was offered a second internship at Nexteer Automotive completing marketing research for their future engineering department. It was a new role at the time and I was being supervised by engineers to find the possible market share for a possible future use of their technologies. It was a very self-guided project that resulted in me actually presenting my findings to members of their board. The presentation was a success and they continued to work on that project for a couple of years (as far as I know) after I left the organization. This is where I determined that marketing research wasn’t the only thing I wanted to spend my days on. I needed a mixture of marketing tasks to keep me happy.
After graduation (well actually slightly before), I took my first full-time position in marketing. I was the marketing professional at Wolverine Fire Protection Co. – a specialty contractor that designs and installs fire suppression systems across the country. I was the very first marketing staff person they had hired in their history. Here I had the chance to rebuild a brand from scratch. I took their existing logo and built a much more modern identity around it that includes a website overhaul, new letterhead and templates, new report and RFP style and format, building social media presence, new trade show materials, etc. I did spend a lot of my time working on proposals to win new projects because this is a B2B business. It was a great experience, but I quickly discovered I wanted to get back into the B2C world and a role where I was working on ad campaigns and more traditional marketing channels.
That is when I found the posting for a Marketing Specialist at Genesee County Parks. In this role, I was able to come in at the front of a brand refresh project in a B2C organization. I was able to work through updating all branded brochures, social media presence, and website AND create true marketing campaigns. I managed a marketing budget and a small staff of 1-3 (1 full-time and 1-2 interns at a time). I also got to do some event organizing and marketing utilizing the skills I earned in my first internship. I was hooked on the field of parks and recreation after my first six months there, and although I wasn’t the first person in that role, the role offered a lot of room for modernizing and making it my own with a fresh start.
I was at Genesee County Parks for almost 4 years when I took on my current role. It was a shift from a county park system to a regional parks system and managing a larger staff with more responsibilities. At the time I took my position at Huron-Clinton Metroparks, the role of Chief of Marketing and Communications was new and the Metroparks hadn’t had a consistent and organized marketing plan in over 30 years. I once again had the opportunity to come in and rebuild a brand starting with the brand refresh process and working through updating the brand identity and then working to build brand campaigns to improve brand recognition in Southeast Michigan and increase attendance. Additionally, I’m working to continually improve media relations and partnerships in the region and focused on public-facing storytelling to get our brand message across. As part of the executive leadership team, I also have the opportunity to be a part of the team the develops and guides the future-facing goals and plans for the organization.
Q: Why did you choose to attend UM-Flint for your degree(s)? A: I originally started college with a much different career path in mind. I chose UM-Flint at the time because I wanted to complete my prereqs while I worked toward transferring into UM-Ann Arbor’s Architecture program. While I did accomplish that – after two years at UM-Flint and one semester in Ann Arbor’s Architecture program, I decided it wasn’t actually making me happy and that I needed to change majors. When I did, I decided to come back to UM-Flint because the smaller campus was a much more personalized experience for me. The teachers were able to give individual students more attention and I felt like it was a better place for me to gain the education I needed to prepare for my career while still being more affordable than other big universities.
Q: Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars during your college experience? If so, what organizations/clubs? A: I was a co-founder of Marketing and Advertising Student Professionals at the time. Was involved in other activities off campus including coaching for a high school color guard squad, riding four-wheelers, and competing in the Genesee County Fair open exhibit classes and queen pageant.
Q: How did your education at UM-Flint prepare you for what you are doing today? A: In my business classes I had a diverse set of students. Unlike some universities where everyone is fresh out of high school and living in dorms, my classes were a mix of “traditional” college students, older return-to-learn students with careers and full-time jobs already and students from abroad. Being paired up in group projects and discussions with those unique perspectives allowed me to think differently and really discuss what we were learning in class. That combined with the internship and hands-on experiences that I gained through the career center and the student org we started helped propel me into realizing what my career could be. I’ll admit I didn’t really know what type of marketing role I wanted to be in while I was in college. It was really helpful to take two very different internships over the course of my four years. The first one was in event marketing and allowed me to use my creativity and graphic designer minor and I loved being on the B2C side. The second was in marketing research which I thought would make more money and I would love the numbers side. I discovered that I didn’t love it as much as I loved creating B2C campaigns and using my creative side. That helped me determine that I ultimately wanted to end up the head of a marketing department somewhere.
Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in? A: I weaved my answer to this into my career path answer. It had a lot to do with my experience at each role I’ve had in showing me the pieces I did and didn’t like in each of my roles.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint? A: I would say that the most important thing I learned during my time at UM-Flint is the benefit of applied experience. I had teachers and internship opportunities through campus resources that allowed me to work on real-world projects. That type of experience can’t be read in a textbook. Those hands-on experiences allowed me to apply what I was learning in class (and do a little research and self-teaching along the way) and propelled me further into career options that I never expected. Had I not taken the chance on those opportunities, I don’t think I would be as far in my career as I am today. I learned that you have to put the work in, but when you do, everything starts to click and it makes it all worth it.
Q: What is one of your favorite events you attended or classroom experiences at UM-Flint? Why? A: I remember my classroom experiences more than events, and it’s hard for me to pick one. I actually have a few that stick out in my mind. I had professor Laurence for organizational behavior and I always found his lessons really interesting. It really brought the concepts of inter-office relations and management into a realistic perspective. He was also always willing to help outside of class or give advice and he wrote me a great letter of recommendation that helped me land my first job. I also really enjoyed my international business class (although I don’t remember my professor’s name). At the time, I thought I wanted to end up in an international business and his lessons often brought a hands-on component. One specific time is when he brought in silkworms for us to eat. I originally felt I could be brave and try it, but ultimately ended up chickening out. But it was still a really impactful lesson for other cultures.
Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field? A: I have a couple pieces of advice. First, treat every job like a great opportunity. What I mean is open your eyes and ears and soak up as much experience as you can. A lot of students don’t consider their part-time retail jobs as “experience” on their resumes and in interviews, but it is! When I’m talking to students I remind them to think about those jobs differently and decide what those jobs have taught them that they can carry into an organization. Maybe it’s communication skills or sales skills or merchandising ideas from someone who has actually had to stock shelves before. It’s all valuable in different ways.
Also, graphic design experience today is really important. Even if you can’t do it yourself, you should have an understanding of the principles, terminology, and technology used. In my role, I supervise graphic designers, but in previous roles, I’ve had to be both the marketing person and the graphic designer. A lot of companies are looking for dual roles and even if they aren’t, you need to understand the principles of what works and looks good to consumers when your reviewing and approving billboards vs print ads vs social media content. So I recommend taking some graphic design courses while you’re still in school or in some other capacity after school. It will make you more marketable in the job force.
Q: What is a long-term career or professional goal you have for yourself? A: When I think a few years back, my long-term goal was to become a chief marketing officer (CMO) somewhere. I had no idea that I would have the opportunity to realize that goal by the time I was 30. Now I’ve been so busy building that role for 2.5 years and through a pandemic that brought record attendance to parks everywhere, that I haven’t really stopped to think what my next long-term goal should be in my career. My goal is always to continue growing and improving the organization I work for. Professionally, in the parks and rec field, there is a certification called CPRP (certified parks and recreational professional). I do have a goal for myself to obtain that one day and to stay in the parks and recreation field.
Q: What is something people may not know about you? A: In the professional world people tend to see a petite, fair-skinned, young, blonde woman and generate certain assumptions about me. However, I have often surprised people when they discover my hobbies include riding four-wheelers, and side by sides, getting dirty, fishing, hunting, photography (I even had my own business for a short period of time) and all things outdoors. My honeymoon trip to Alaska was my absolute favorite vacation. I listen to all types of music from rock to hip hop to country, I’m a dedicated dog mom and I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and help with projects of all kinds including tending to my small flock of chickens and home renovation projects at my husband and I’s house in the country or cabin in the woods.
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!