Nicole Johnson: Creating Opportunities for Success

Nicole Johnson has had an interesting journey here at Mizzou.  After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology Engineering, Nicole enrolled in the Crosby MBA Program.  “I chose the Crosby MBA Program because I knew they had a very strong, yet affordable program,” she says.  After graduating in May 2011, Nicole took a job working in Technology consulting with Protiviti, an Internal Audit and Risk Consulting Firm in Kansas City.

While working with Protiviti, Nicole helped the organization start a new practice, social business consulting. “We help clients best engage with their stakeholders through social technologies while taking the proper steps to mitigate the risk associated with these technologies,” says Nicole.  After transferring to Chicago, Nicole continued to work on the social business practice, but she also expanded her focus by joining another team.  “I currently split my time between the SharePoint Solutions practice, where I help architect and improve user experiences on intranets/extranets/websites and the social business team.”

With a background in IT, Nicole came into the MBA Program with a unique skillset; however, she still gained important new skills within the Crosby MBA Program.  In fact, she says “some of the most valuable skills I learned from the program were the intangible ones such as creating a good work ethic, learning how to work with teams and in group settings, thinking outside the box, and the value of getting involved both inside and outside the classroom.  Today I use all of these skills on a daily basis.”

When asked what advice she would give to current Crosby MBA students, Nicole says, “Get involved.  The MBA program is what you make it.  Join different clubs, attend the social and philanthropic events.  Meet and network with as many people as you can.  Take advantage of the workshops, seminars, and business development experiences.  All of these will help you become a more rounded person in your life and in your career while making the MBA program a more enjoyable experience.”

Through her role with Protiviti, Nicole has had had the opportunity to travel all across the country and see many organizations and industries. “I have learned the more opportunities you take to say yes, the more opportunities you have to be successful and get the unique opportunities.  Luck is not handed to successful people. They work hard to be put in lucky situations.”


Nate Kelly: From MBA Lessons to Executive Decisions

After studying Kinesiology in his undergraduate program and subsequently working in health organizations and a start-up company, Nate Kelly, Crosby MBA ’05, pursued a MBA to become a more effective business leader.

While choosing which graduate school to attend, Nate visited Columbia to learn more about the Crosby MBA Program at Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business.  “Having attended college in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN for my undergraduate degree, I never really knew what it felt like to study in a “college town” like Columbia. The fall colors, a Mizzou football game, and a trip to Shakespeare’s Pizza were pretty compelling.  The reason I chose the Missouri MBA program, however, can be attributed to the MBA staff I met while I was visiting. Their personal approach, the opportunity for me to help grow the program, and the city of Columbia all factored into my decision to enroll at the University of Missouri.”

During the summer between Nate’s first and second year of the program, he interned with Cerner Corporation, a global health care technology company based in Kansas City, MO. During that time, he was recruited to join the organization full time in a Business Analyst position. Eight years later, Nate has worked in a number of business development and strategy development roles, each with increased scope of responsibilities.  “At each step in my post-graduate journey I have found success applying the concepts and skills I learned in the Crosby MBA program”, says Nate.  Some of those skills include team building, negotiation tactics, group-based problem solving, leadership techniques, operational modeling, emotional intelligence, marketing strategy, and the importance of building an effective network.  According to Nate, “all of these are skills I leverage nearly every day in a general manager role.”

When asked what advice he would give to Crosby MBA students, Nate emphasized the importance of working well in groups.  “Learn to meaningfully contribute to a diverse team,” he says, “Business problems are complex and the best answer is almost always cross functional… Failure to collaborate could lead to a sub-optimal solution, a broken process, or lack of needed downstream adoption.  Working with successful teams, on the other hand, will be some of the most rewarding and valuable moments of your career.”

Even though he has been out of the program for nearly a decade, Nate says “in many ways I feel the Crosby MBA program is still shaping my career…I try to mentor current students and I always learn from those relationships.”  He added “I am proud to be a Tiger and living on the Kansas side of Kansas City I quite literally wave my University of Missouri flag…often.”  Nate is currently an executive with General Management responsibility for Cerner’s Workforce and Capacity Management solutions.

For more information about Cerner, please visit, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

Abhinav Airy: Ready for a Change? Enhance Your Career with an MBA

Coming back to the classroom after working full time in an industry can be a fulfilling and valuable experience for an individual looking for professional growth. Abhinav Airy (Crosby ’13) always knew that he wanted to pursue an MBA at some point in his career. After working as an engineer for several years, Abhinav spoke candidly with his manager and decided that pursuing higher education would ensure a fast-paced growth rate in his career. “Coming back to the classroom allows people to equip themselves with solutions and answers to problems that they have faced in the real world,” says Abhinav. “Therefore, I decided to go ahead and take the next step.”

When deciding on MBA programs to pursue, Abhinav began utilizing the many resources available through online servers as well as The MBA Tour. “Eventually, it came down to ten schools, and I applied to six of those. Then I used a spreadsheet to evaluate the best option for me,” Abhinav states. An MBA is an investment, and he knew that he had to determine what he was going to be investing in a program, as well as his return on investment. After running many calculations in worst, average, and best case economic scenarios, Abhinav decided that the Crosby program at the University of Missouri was going to provide the best return on investment for his career growth.

Once he entered the program, Abhinav decided to pursue a business generalist degree instead of a specific area of concentration. “I took classes that interested me or, in some cases, the ones that I felt I needed because of my lack of experience in that particular area,” says Abhinav. In today’s dynamic market setting, the needs of an organization are constantly changing and an MBA graduate should be capable of adapting to various roles and situations. Abhinav explains that he chose the generalist degree because it would help him build these capabilities. “[I believe] for a corporate/business/management strategy role, it is important that one has a well-rounded profile rather than a specific concentration.”

Abhinav currently serves as the Manager of Customer Services at DISH, in which he oversees the deployment of the customer service agents as well as all customer interactions. He was offered the job after a summer internship experience with DISH, where he worked with the direct sales operations team and took on multiple projects within the company. In regards to advice for current or future MBA students, Abhinav suggests, “Think about the bigger overall goal every once in a while, but look towards the milestones that will help reach that overall goal.”