SBA alumni share their wisdom with current students

Throughout the week of Oct. 7-11, WSU School of Business Administration alumni have been sharing their wisdom and experiences with current students in each of the school’s core undergraduate classes.

Part of the school's Alumni Week celebration, these presentations are intended to give students who are still early in their academic career a look at what a career in one of our disciplines - accounting, finance, global supply chain, information systems, marketing and management - might look like.

Alumni Week sneak peek

Students in Prof. Jeffrey Stoltman’s retail management class (MKT 5700) got a sneak peek at one of these presentations last month when Stoltman invited recent graduate Tanja Michael to speak to the class. While not technically a core class, MKT 5700 is the first time most students will have taken such a critical look at the retail industry - and potential careers in it.

Michael, B.S. ’12 in marketing, got her start in retail as a holiday hire at Express while she was still in high school. She never even considered a career in the industry until she developed a training program that has become a standard at all of Express' more than 600 stores in North America.

Then, as a student in Stoltman's course in 2011, Michael conducted a research project on retail trends. She took it upon herself to share her findings up the chain of command and now, Michael, still in her early 20s, is in line for a corporate position.

"I was a greeter when I started, just saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to people as they came in and out of the store," Michael told the class. "The work I did in this class taught me that there’s so much more in retail than what you see at the store level."

In addition to working hard and paying attention in class, Michael had one more piece of advice for the students when it comes to getting ahead in the retail world.

"There are 40 to 50 associates in a store like ours, and they all have their own goals," she said. "It’s not enough to say ‘I want to do this’ or ‘I want to do that.’ You have to own your growth: write down what you want to do, share it with the people who need to know and show that you can get results."

Do you have lessons you'd like to share?

The School of Business Administration is planning to invite alumni back for these types of presentations every fall and winter semester. If you’d like to be considered as a speaker, please contact Randy Paschke at

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