Clearing the Path to Career Success
Wisconsin Evening MBA student Chris Sinutko (MBA ’15), product sales manager for SPX Corporation, wanted to learn about the career paths and experiences of alumni in similar technical management positions, so he applied to the Evening and Executive MBA programs’ newest career acceleration initiative—Alumni Career Connections.
Created in 2014 by students and program office staff, Alumni Career Connections pairs Wisconsin Evening and Executive MBA students with WSB alumni willing to share insights about their jobs and industries.
“My adviser works in product design in the consumer products industry and has held technical positions with other companies in other industries,” says Chris about his mentor Casey Klock (BS ’07, MBA ’12), global new product development manager for Spectrum Brands.
Chris and Casey connect via email and in person about once a month. “Chris and I are at similar points in our career development and progression,” says Casey. “Chris is tied more closely to the sales side, while I’m closer to the product side. We talk about issues we run into from our perspectives, which provides insights we both can take back to work.”
Casey says he has benefited from the program, too. “I’ve reconnected with the School, met other professionals, and taken the time to reflect on my own career,” he says.
While Chris and Casey trade insights on optimizing the product pipeline, Jennifer Pagels (MBA ’05), director of human resources at Trek Bicycle Corporation, and Evening MBA student Carrie Olson (MBA ’15), associate director of alumni relations at the Wisconsin School of Business, focus on what they know best—people.
“Carrie and I discuss how to find areas of HR and training that interest her the most,” says Jennifer. “I really enjoy connecting with a student interested in the HR field, who can share new and emerging ideas around our discipline, and is open to hearing feedback on how to improve in her role.”
will continue the mentor relationship after the program
“I visited Jennifer and her team onsite at Trek to learn how they develop a culture among their employees as a top place to work and how some of those same concepts can be applied to the work I do connecting students and alumni,” says Carrie.
“I’m very happy to have this connection and give back to the university,” says Jennifer. “It gave me a sense of pride about what is happening within the Wisconsin School of Business. I can definitely see participating again in the future.”
“Jennifer and I will continue to meet,” says Carrie. “I have recommended the program to others as a great way to explore a different industry and gain contacts to help them in their own career aspirations.”
Most participants are equally pleased, according to Taura Prosek, director of career management and corporate partnerships for the Wisconsin Evening and Executive MBA programs. “At the conclusion of the three-month program, more than 80 percent of participants indicated that they foresee the relationship continuing into the future,” she says.
Two of those participants are Executive MBA student Paul Auer (MBA ’15), vice president of Madison operations and project executive at Miron Construction Co. Inc., and Executive MBA alumnus Nezih Hasanoglu Jr. (MBA ’13), who serves on the Wisconsin School of Business Alumni Board and is the director of business development and a partner at M3 Insurance.
“I was able to pick Nezih’s brain about his approach to business development and gain insight and ideas,” says Paul. “I’m always looking for ways to refine my skills and how I approach different situations, and this program helped me do that.”
— Jennifer Pagels (MBA ’05) Director of Human Resources Trek Bicycle Corporation
“I did my best to answer Paul’s questions and to stay focused on his interests,” says Nezih. “I also tried to relate his business development insights back to his classes. The primary area we discussed was how to leverage and expand his network in certain geographic markets.”
Paul and Nezih both appreciated the opportunity to grow their respective networks. “While I definitely gained more from my coach, we shared contacts and information that could help both our organizations,” says Paul. “I’m very happy I decided to join the program and would highly recommend it to other students.”
Nezih agrees. “I look forward to continuing my relationship with Paul and would welcome the opportunity to participate in the program again,” he says.
As Alumni Career Connections grows, Taura plans to add more events and activities to connect students and alumni. “We want this to model professional relationships, where individuals make an effort to keep the relationship going,” she says.
Want to get involved with the Wisconsin School of Business?
Find out how to engage with us: