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Parkites on the Job

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Excerpts from Park University Magazine, Spring 2011


Celebrating alumni business success

Leaders, directors, marketers, managers, vice presidents, entrepreneurs.

Park University School of Business alumni are leading extraordinary careers across a spectrum of industries — from travel, technology and manufacturing to retail, transportation and health care. We celebrate Park’s successful alumni as they reflect on the changing business world through the lens of their own career paths and offer lessons learned along the way.


Mary Hudson Smithson, ‘04

National Sales Manager
Anchor Hocking
Estes Park, Colo.
B.S. Management
My sales career became increasingly competitive, and bottom line, I needed a degree to progress. Today, I represent one of the largest glass manufacturers to major retailers, including Pier 1, J C Penney, Kroger, Hobby Lobby and Costco. A great deal of planning goes into determining product mix, price points and packaging. It’s rewarding to finally see products arrive in my clients’ stores. I also use my business training from Park as the co-owner of two retail gift boutiques in Estes Park, Colo. (Mary Jane’s opened in 2005 and J. Stevens opened in 2010). When we noticed customers becoming more value conscious, we changed our product mix to offer lower price points. Despite a struggling economy, we had the most profitable year ever.


Eric Allum, ‘02

Texas Children’s Hospital
Manager, Business Operations/Perioperative Services
Houston, Texas
B.S. Management
Initially, I didn’t realize how my business degree could be applicable in the health care industry. Yet today, I manage operations for the largest pediatric hospital in the U.S. My role includes staffing and training, as well as monitoring revenue capture for every procedure and service related to surgery. In the Air Force, I often worked directly in foreign countries to coordinate supplies and equipment. In a sense, I was directly involved in international business. At the hospital, we’ve hosted dignitaries and doctors from Saudi Arabia to South America, and serve patients from all over the world. The world is getting smaller and smaller, and a global perspective is more important than ever.


Brian Belmont, ‘93

Executive Vice President, Brand Expansion and Development
Denver, Colo.
B.S. Management
From real estate to construction, I manage the growth of the Quiznos brand. Since I joined the company 10 years ago, Quiznos has experienced rapid growth, from 500 to 4,000 franchise restaurants around the world. My degree from Park has been extremely valuable because of the real-world business expertise of my professors, many who held senior-level positions in major corporations. Case studies were particularly valuable. From my experience as a logistics officer in the Marines, I was interested in logistics from a business perspective and did a case study on Walmart’s distribution systems. For retailers and manufacturers, success boils down to the ability to execute by doing “routine things routinely” to build an operation disciplined for growth.


Shirley Cooper, ‘06, MBA ‘09

Hallmark Cards Inc.
IT Service Delivery Director
Kansas City, Mo.
B.S. Management/Computer Information Systems
Master of Business Administration
With my professional and undergraduate experience mostly technical, Park’s graduate program challenged me to think from a business perspective. The opportunity to develop strategies and plans based on consumer trends and preferences has increased my value to my company and my career. At Hallmark, I manage all IT operations to ensure our employees and business partners can perform critical daily tasks. Essentially, I help “keep the lights on” from a business execution standpoint. Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed how technology has removed barriers to global business operations. Few companies can exist today without an international perspective. Today’s business students need to view the world as connected rather than divided by water and cultures.


Brian Quinn, ‘03

Expedia Inc.
Senior Director of Service Delivery for Global Customer Operations
Bellevue, Wash.
B.S. Management/Finance
I grew up wanting to be a sales guy. Today, I oversee the sales experience provided by more than 3,000 agents in call centers around the world. Expedia helps travelers plan and book trips, while I make sure we’re delivering on key performance indicators, such as customer satisfaction scores and sales conversion rates. While earning my degree in the Air Force, I had the opportunity to experience various cultures. Blending military leadership training and travel with a business education is ideal for business success. Some of the best business leaders I’ve met have military backgrounds. I’ve seen too many Americans work in foreign markets without fully understanding the culture. More than ever, business people need to learn and respect other cultures.


Angela Fickess, ‘07

Three Dog Bakery Inc.
Multi-Channel Marketing Manager
Kansas City, Mo.
B.S. Management/Marketing
I reached a point in my career where I needed a degree to move to the next level. Park’s accelerated evening program made it possible. After leading marketing campaigns at Hallmark Cards, I’m now managing digital marketing for Three Dog Bakery —the original all-natural bakery for dogs with more than 40 stores in the U.S., Japan, Canada and Hong Kong. Since I started last year, the company has experienced double-digit growth on the e-commerce side. Many people don’t realize that the pet industry is experiencing tremendous growth despite the economy. It’s fun managing all aspects of marketing, from social media to product development, as well as the company’s foundation, which raises funds to help dogs in need. And yes, I get to take my dog to work every day.


John P. Burton, ‘78

Vice President, Yield Management
Con-way Freight
Ann Arbor, Mich.
B.A. Business Administration and Mathematics
Although I was just recently named vice president, I’ve been targeting my new position for nearly four years by networking in the transportation industry. When the opportunity came up, I was at the top of the list. I’ve never experienced a hiring process that went so quickly. Early in my career, a boss told me to only focus on excelling at my current position and the next job will come. But I’ve learned it’s important to set a direction and carefully plan where you want to go. My double major in math and business was an ideal mix for my career. Math is a black-and-white world — you identify and solve a problem. Yet my business degree taught me to think strategically and critically analyze a situation from multiple angles.


Deb Taylor Arbo, ‘93

Elite Events and Incentives
Kansas City, Mo.
B.S. Management/Finance
I’ve turned a ballroom into a rainforest, organized golf tournaments in Bermuda and hired Faith Hill, the Counting Crows and Jay Leno. For the past 20 years, I’ve coordinated more than 300 special events, including grand openings, sales incentive trips and seminars. I’ve worked with
Fortune 500 companies to produce events for 50 to 2,500 guests in both the U.S. and abroad. People think event planning is creative and fun — and it is! But many don’t realize the myriad of details involved, such as insurance liabilities, security and contract negotiations. My work is far from a typical 9-to-5 career. When you’re on site at an event, you’re always the first one up and the last one to go to bed.


Jaime Stauffer Kronenberg, ‘03

L-3, Command and Control
Systems and Software
Project Manager
Lexington Park, Md.
B.S. Management/Human Resources
I’m proud that my work improves the quality of life for people around the world. Currently, I’m managing the technical implementation of a 911 command and control center in Amman, Jordan. In communicating directly with the Jordanians, I’ve learned how important it is to understand and respect cultural differences. It can make or break a project. Recently, I was elected president of the Project Management Institute-Southern Maryland Chapter. Many people do project management every day and don’t realize it. Project managers ensure things get done by carefully monitoring a project’s budget, scope and schedule. To formalize the career, PMI is setting standards and best practices for the growing profession.


Christopher J. Cribb, ’04

Marquee Selections
General Manager and Managing Director
Kansas City, Mo.
B.A. Business Administration
I run an international wine operation dedicated to providing consumers a global portfolio of wineries that use green, organic, biodynamic and sustainable winemaking practices. For two years in a row, our wines have been listed among the top 100 wines by
Wine & Spirits magazine. With thousands of wines to select from, it’s an honor to be in the top 1 percent. My work involves international collaboration on an everyday basis. As an importer and exporter, I’ve seen how the world is becoming more “flat” as the traditional boundaries of countries, languages and cultures are being brought down. As an entrepreneur, I think that those who are most successful in business see the changing global environment as an opportunity for growth.


Megan Kros Dillinger, ‘99

Target Corporation
District Team Leader
Des Moines, Iowa
B.A. Business Administration/Management
When most people think of retail, they often think of cashiering, bagging groceries or stocking shelves. But there’s so much more to it, especially at Target. When I started at Target after graduating from Park, I quickly discovered a phenomenal company the difference. Today, I oversee 10 stores with 1,800 team members in my district. There’s so much more to retail than most college graduates understand. Retail is a competitive industry that demands the highest level of business acumen and can offer tremendous opportunity for career growth. I enjoy the constant change of the retail world and the continual challenge to ensure a great shopping experience for guests and a positive culture for my team.


Herb Williams, ‘05

SS Water Supply Corp.
General Manager
LaVernia, Texas
B.S. Management/Human Resources
The military encourages earning a degree, but it wasn’t until my 28th year in the Air Force that I decided to go for it. Despite my 30 years of engineering experience in the military, I knew a degree was a prerequisite for managerial positions in the civilian world. With my degree, my confidence soared along with job offers. Today, I ensure potable water for more than 20,000 people. When I started, infrastructure was deficient and I was told improvements weren’t possible without loans. When I’m told I can’t do something, I like to prove people wrong. So I forged new operating tariffs to collect capital improvement fees from developers building subdivisions in our area. Ultimately, my company made $10.5 million in improvements without borrowing    a dime.


Kristi Kratzer Suderman, ‘06

Senior Advisor, Customer Relations
Kansas City, Mo.
B.A. Business Administration
I remember sitting in a statistics class and  thinking I’ll never need any of this. As it turns out, I monitor statistical reports every day to identify issues, resolve complaints and determine where to focus strategies to ensure customer satisfaction and regulatory compliance. I’ve learned that numbers are the bottom line and matter quite a bit in the real world. When I’m not pouring over the data or responding to customer needs, I deliver presentations on energy efficiency to community groups and government agencies. I was fortunate to gain experience working part time at KCP&L as a customer care advocate while attending Park, and ultimately move into a full-time leadership role.


Jason Mittendorf, ‘98

Cerner Corporation
Engagement Leader
Kansas City, Mo.
B.A. Business Administration
From hospice to skilled nursing facilities, I’ve led the successful implementation of Cerner’s health care software for more than 40 home care clients. Each project is definitely a lot of work, from initial consultation to planning and training. Fortunately, Cerner is a highly collaborative environment with a strong work ethic. Our clients are dedicated to very important work that impacts the lives of millions of people. That’s why it’s rewarding to lead teams in providing innovative software that help clinicians and staff better serve patients by more efficiently capturing and tracking patient data. Managing software implementation — or any major project — is a complex process that demands clear, measurable goals and constant communication to make sure everyone involved is on the same page.



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