Top 10 Experiences During My Time in the Crosby MBA Program

Kevin Nielson graduates from the program in December 2014.  Currently, he is studying abroad at the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands.

As I prepare to graduate — having said goodbye a bit early because I am abroad during my last eight weeks in the program — I wanted to share some of my favorite experiences from my time in the Crosby MBA program.  These are just a few of the things I enjoyed over the past year, and they are in no particular order.

Students get together outside of classes.

Making new friends

I can’t pinpoint one experience, but I have enjoyed getting to know so many smart and motivated people.

We all have the drive to be successful but know how to enjoy our time off as well.

Study abroad

It’s taken a lot of preparation, but I am very excited to be studying abroad at Maastricht University for the second half of the semester.  MU’s partnership with a top-tier institution in the Netherlands allows me to take eight weeks of classes here.

I plan to visit Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, and Cologne.  I already know this will be an experience of a lifetime.

Case study for capstone

During capstone, we were split into teams and did a case study on an Anheuser-Busch subsidiary Metal Container Corporation (MCC).  This included recording a presentation of recommendations to help MCC move forward with business plans and determine what strategy would benefit Anheuser-Busch most.

Students attended the game against Auburn University at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

SEC Championship game

My first semester in the program, the Tigers reached the Southeastern Conference championship.  Three cars full of MBA students took to the road for the big game. The team didn’t win, but the trip will always be a fond memory.

Working with real clients

I was fortunate to work in teams that completed consulting projects for Nasopure and Zuke’s, which is a company that makes all-natural pet treats.  These projects allowed me to apply the skills I have learned to real-world situations.


The nerves of a new program and making friends dissipated after the first days of orientation.  The program’s weeklong orientation eases nerves and inspires collaboration.

The Big Oak Tree is located southwest of Columbia, near McBaine.

Enjoying Columbia

I can list countless moments I have spent enjoying everything the city offers.

Columbia offers a variety of unique dining experiences.  And, situated in the middle of Missouri, it makes access to the tastes of Kansas City and St. Louis easy, too.

If you’re more interested in the outdoors than city life, Columbia boasts trails and The Big Tree.

I have hiked many of its nearby state parks.

Football tailgates

I was on campus for two football seasons.  MU’s home football games were always fun, especially when I made time to socialize at the MBA Association’s tailgates.  These events provide great opportunities to get to know other students.

Alumni speakers

The Crosby MBA program has 50 years of graduates, and the Trulaske College of Business just turned 100.  Both maintain impressive lists of alumni, with numerous executives who remain active with the university.  This means there are always great guest lectures and networking events as well as an effective mentoring program.

Kevin Nielson worked at the GE Capital offices in Moberly.

GE Capital internship

Many companies recruit at MU, and I was fortunate to land an internship with GE Capital.

The company has an office in nearby Moberly where I spent 12 weeks working with the Office Imaging Finance team.

I enjoyed my time and was able to gain valuable experience with that organization.

Kevin is studying abroad at Maastricht University with fellow MBA student Olivia Harrison. Check here for updates from Kevin and Olivia’s time in the Netherlands as well as other stories from students’ international experiences.

Humanities Degree Helps with Business Studies, Job Search

Roxanne Biggar grew up in Bonne Terre, a small town in Southeastern Missouri.  In 2008, she received a bachelor’s of arts degree in history from Washington University in St. Louis, where she also minored in art history.  She graduated from the Crosby MBA program in May 2014 with a concentration in management.  While in the program, Mrs. Biggar was the Intramural Chair of MBAA as well as a Crosby Ambassador and member of the Association of Trulaske Businesswomen, for which she designed the logo.  She now works in Kansas City as a pricing manager at YRC Freight.

A cornerstone of my interview preparation process involves trying to anticipate the questions an interviewer might ask.  I had an advantage over many of my friends because I knew there was one question I would get every time, “I see you majored in history, why?”  I loved this question.

Roxanne Biggar graduated from the program in May 2014 and now works at YRC Freight in Kansas City.

Historical events, places, and people always fascinated me, and it seemed only natural for me to pursue a degree in that field.  But when I declared that major my sophomore year, I had no idea just how valuable what I learned would become.  Although I learned a lot about history, the most valuable lessons did not come from texts or lectures.

During the four years I worked after college, I realized I was looking at business problems the same way I had tackled history papers, using analytical skills to sort through piles of documents to separate the worthless data from the information that would help earn an A — or win a bid.  I could think critically, identifying problems and synthesizing information relevant to solving them.  Incredibly, my history degree made me better at doing business.

I’d always liked business.  I made and sold little sleeping bags for Beanie Babies — which were the hot toy for grade-schoolers — at craft fairs in fifth grade.  I convinced my mom to go into business with me part-time after I graduated from college.  We still
design and sell T-shirts to help promote educational and community groups in my
hometown.  And when my aunt decided to expand her gardening business, I created her record-keeping and invoicing system, designed her logo, and made T-shirts for her to wear at farmers’ markets and worksites.

Still, I never thought about pursuing business academically.

Then, after four years at the same desk, I realized I needed something different.  I liked my work but couldn’t find a similar job with my credentials.  I considered working part time on an MBA but quickly realized that wouldn’t work because every evening program I explored felt very procedural.  These programs missed the academic aspect I sought.

Then I found the Crosby MBA program.

There were technical classes, but there were theory classes, too.  It sounded perfect.  I wasn’t confident I could succeed pursing an MBA full time, but I arranged a visit anyway.  I spoke with the staff about my non-traditional background.  The admissions adviser assured me that it would be to my benefit because of my research and writing skills.  These would also benefit the program because I would bring a new perspective to discussions and group projects.

She was right.  When we discussed a Harvard Business School case in class, I could bring up points and connections others had missed because I saw things differently.  Whenever I did a company valuation for finance classes, I dug into the firm’s history to help me contextualize its place in the global marketplace.

Two years after that first meeting, I prepared to start my final semester and was deep
into the job hunt.  Every interviewer asked me about my non-business undergraduate degree, and I proudly spoke about how the lessons of my undergraduate studies had enhanced my experience in the business program and bolstered my credentials.  Still, few seemed to buy it.

Then, I had a lunch interview with a Crosby MBA alumnus who also had earned an undergraduate degree in a non-business field.  During the meal we talked about how valuable such studies had been to our current pursuits.

I was refreshed and energized to see that someone else understood, and it helped that he offered me a job a few weeks later.  I accepted and now work as a pricing manager at YRC in Kansas City, where I apply the skills I learned in the humanities and the MBA program.

Consulting Students Estimate Economic Impact of MU Athletics

Students Parker Leppien and Heather Webster present the findings of their consulting group.

Crosby MBA students in Gregg Martin’s consulting class work on teams to analyze situations confronting real-world organizations.  Teams have worked with MU’s Athletic Department over the years, building and developing a model to estimate the effect of the university’s sports programs on Columbia’s economy.  Recently the team from the Spring 2014 semester presented its findings.

The stakes were higher for Crosby MBA students Parker Leppien and Heather Webster this fall than they were for a typical presentation.

Others in Gregg Martin’s consulting class field questions from a few managers in quiet conference rooms.  At a news conference, Leppien and Webster faced an audience eager to hear the results of their team’s semester-long project.  They had worked on a model to estimate the economic impact of the university’s Athletic Department, assessing the effect construction projects and sales of Tiger gear have on the city.

Their findings were big.  The total impact of the MU Athletic Department approaches $250 million, driven in large part by fans attending home games.  Restaurant and hotel bills and ticket sales accounted for about $140 million of the team’s estimate for 2013, which was up about $25 million from the previous year.

“It was fun being on the other side of the podium for something like this,” said Leppien, a broadcast journalist whose graduate assistantship involved covering sports and producing videos for the Athletic Department.

Leppien said he had seen internally how the department operates and who it helps.  He was eager to undertake this project to “see how it impacted the external community.”

He said it was to prepare for opportunities like this that prompted him to pursue an MBA.  Leppien said he has always been comfortable speaking before people — or cameras.  That, now coupled with his business knowledge, helps him clearly and confidently present information to decision makers.

While Leppien expanded an existing skill set, Webster, a part-time student who works as an optometrist, said the project helped her develop a completely new one.  She said analyzing survey results and conducting personal interviews was not something she had done before.  More than that, though, she said she appreciated the personal dimension of the qualitative component of the research.

“The numbers are just the numbers,” Webster said.  “How they impact people was the bigger part for me.”

Leppien said getting the construction companies to respond proved challenging because answering their questions was not high on their long to-do lists.  Once they got the results, though, Leppien and Webster said they were enlightening.

“It was really cool to see how all of these construction projects really made a difference in the lives of fellow Missourians,” Leppien said.

Webster, who has family members who work in construction, said having a project like the stadium renovations that is “so big for so long” can make such a difference in their lives.  According to Webster, supervisors said morale increased, and they saw that employees were more invested in their work.

“People told me that their work (on the stadium) gave them a spot in the middle class,” Webster said.  “They wants their kids, and their grandkids, to come (to MU).”

Beyond MU, Leppien said the Chamber of Commerce will use the information for its initiatives and that MU’s Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin would like to do a similar project to assess the economic impact of MU as a whole.  Leppien also said Director of Athletics Mike Alden would “love” to see the model used at other schools within the Southeastern Conference.

Parker Leppien graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in 2011 with a degree in broadcast journalism and from the Crosby MBA program in May 2014.  He now works for the MU Athletic Department, producing segments for Mizzou Network.

Heather Webster graduates from the program in December 2014, completing an MBA while attending classes part time and running the optometry practice In Vision Eye Care Center.

The team also included Ben Becker, Lauren Himmelberg, Ryan Leer, Nathan McCormick, and Aaron Senne.  Senne appeared on Tiger Talk to discuss the findings.