EPIC Spotlight: James “Jammer” Orintas

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“Planning is the key to success.”

The floodwaters took over much of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. This could have spelled the end for Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza, which had opened only eight months earlier on the edge of the city’s Garden District.

The home of James “Jammer” Orintas sustained serious roof damage that displaced him for a few months. Yet his pizzeria was spared. He consulted with his partners and they agreed: Theo’s needed to re-open as soon as possible.

And it did in early October of that year. Theo’s provided relief for those with flooded homes and others suffering from power outages. For many, cooking at home wasn’t an option, Orintas says.

A citywide curfew limited Theo’s operating hours, while Katrina itself limited the availability of menu items. For the following six weeks, diners had a choice of either pepperoni or sausage pizza with Budweiser, Bud Light, Coke or Diet Coke.

The place was packed. “We ran out of food every single day,” Orintas says.

Theo’s also looked out for the public workers trying to restore the Crescent City.

“The police were working out of a city bus across the street from us,” Orintas recalls. “We took pizzas over.”

Now, eight years later, Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza survived Katrina and has even expanded, with two other locations in the New Orleans area and thousands of “likes” on Facebook.

Orintas – who was given the nickname “Jammer” by his father when he was one of five other students named James in his kindergarten class – didn’t immediately go into the restaurant business after earning his bachelor’s degree in finance in 1999 at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Instead, Orintas worked as a budget analyst for the Al Gore-Joe Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000. He then spent four years as a financial analyst for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

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Yet, he kept looking back fondly to his younger days when he worked at U.S. Pizza in his hometown of Little Rock and, later, in Fayetteville as a university student. “I thought it was a great experience,” he says. “It was really fun.”

The idea of opening a pizzeria was sparked when Orintas’ buddy and fellow Arkansas alumnus, Greg Dietz, complained to him there wasn’t any good pizza in New Orleans, where he lived. The city known more for its gumbo and jambalaya was in dire need of a quality pizzeria.

Orintas, Dietz and their friend, Ted Neikirk, also a University of Arkansas alumnus, took the plunge. They opened Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza, a friendly place with brick walls and concrete floor and exposed ceilings and an extensive pizza menu with items named “Hawaii 5-0” and “Vegan-ator”. Sandwiches and salads are also available. “To me, it has the feel of a pizza joint,” Orintas says.

He says his management and marketing classes at Walton College have been especially helpful in operating a business. “When you have 85 staff members, the day-to-day management of that alone is difficult,” he says.

The business is growing. He and his partners are looking for a fourth pizza location. They have been approached with franchising opportunities, but Orintas says they prefer to wait.

Orintas advises anyone starting a restaurant business to do their homework. That would include negotiating the best, affordable lease as well as structuring management and employees – all while keeping a good, consistent product. “Planning is the key to success,” Orintas says.

EPIC Spotlight: Jackie Sandoval

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“Walton College is one of the best business schools, so where else would I go?”

Jackie Sandoval had to go to a meeting. She found the room, saw some familiar faces and a place to sit. But once the session began, Jackie quickly realized something was amiss. She was in the wrong meeting.

Instead of getting up to leave and drawing attention to herself, she decided to stay. The guest speaker at the meeting was Lisa Sarmiento, Walmart’s senior director of finance and strategy. Jackie was captivated by this successful businesswoman.

By the end of the meeting, Jackie was eager to become a member of the organization hosting the speaker, the University of Arkansas chapter of ALPFA, the largest Latino association for business professionals and students with chapters nationwide and over 20,000 members. The student chapter, which works with ALPFA’s Northwest Arkansas Chapter, serves as a mentoring program supported by the George W. Edwards, Jr. Career Development Center at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

Jackie, a junior at the Walton College from Springdale, joined ALPFA and became vice president of community service, where she got fellow students active in charitable work, which included participating in Make a Difference Day. Now, she works 30 hours a week as a finance manager for the ALPFA Institute, which promotes advancement and leadership for Latino leaders globally. In addition, she is doing what many students would find unthinkable: She is a full-time student with an economics and finance double major and a double minor in accounting and information systems. While it may take five years instead of the traditional four to graduate, she says the additional concentrations will provide her with the needed skills that could open many doors for her professionally. “I’m not in any hurry,” she says. “I feel like the experience I’m getting here is invaluable.”

That experience includes ALPFA. Jackie attended its 2012 national conference in Las Vegas, Nev., which enabled her to make contacts and secure an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Washington, D.C. Jackie says she envisions herself working in the risk management field after graduation.

Jackie’s interest in business began when she participated in several mock trail competitions in high school. She became fascinated with corporate law and had the idea of becoming a lawyer. She made multiple visits to Walton College, looked at how many students got jobs after graduation and several other aspects. It was an easy decision.

“Walton College is one of the best business schools, so where else would I go?” she says.

Since enrolling at Walton College, Jackie says her interest in business grew to the point that law school is no longer on her radar. She says she is grateful for the opportunities the college has provided her.

She also is grateful for the mentorship offered by ALPFA. Jackie says she aspires to pass it on to her fellow students. Currently, she helps students in many ways, such as making professional connections. She plans to continue mentoring students when she’s a professional, especially through ALPFA. “Without the help of ALPFA, I wouldn’t be as far as I am now in my career path,” she says.

EPIC Spotlight: Jack Lim

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“I love the challenge.”

Jack Lim had never been to the United States, let alone Arkansas. But he remembers the exact time and day – 10 p.m., Dec. 31, 1998 – when he got off the plane at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and was greeted by a student organization, which drove him to Fayetteville as he began a new chapter in his life.

This was not a visit. He had never laid eyes on Old Main. He had never called the Hogs. But when he learned that his college credits from his home country of Malaysia would transfer easier than to the other universities he applied. The University of Arkansas was the obvious choice, he says. Fayetteville was now home.

He enrolled at the Sam M. Walton College of Business where he majored in business management – a field where his father excelled, Jack says. He then became acquainted with the college’s professors, who impressed him. He lived off campus, sharing space with Malaysian and non-Malaysian students as he got used to college life in Arkansas. And the language. He knew English, but Southern colloquialisms, like “y’all” for “you all,” were confusing at first, he says. “It took me three months to get familiar with the English here,” Jack says.

As he focused his studies on small business and entrepreneurship management, Jack received an internship with Chartwells, a division of Compass Group, a food service company that serves the world, including the University of Arkansas. He spent two years there as an undergraduate, where he was trained in management, cost control, scheduling and production. He says interning on campus with a globally recognized company connected him to the outside world without his ever having to step foot off university grounds.

When he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2002, Chartwells offered him a full-time position. The employees there treated him like family, inviting him to special events, such as the American tradition known as Thanksgiving. “I’ve made a lot of long-term friends,” he says.

Jack says that after working eight years at Chartwells, he decided to take on new challenges. He quit his job and returned to Walton College, this time to pursue an MBA with a career track in supply chain management while interning at the Kellogg Co. in Rogers. Internships have worked out well for him, he says. Jack was recently hired to work full time as a senior finance analyst where he manages budgets for the Kellogg sales office in Northwest Arkansas, which does business exclusively with Walmart, the world largest retailer. The latter part of this semester for Jack has meant going to class followed by long days at work, which will continue until he graduates in May. Yet, he says he can’t think of a better place than Walton College to get his business training and networking opportunities. “It’s a life-time experience,” he says.

During all of this, Jack got married. He and his wife, Julina Yu, are expecting their first child in August. He also became a United States citizen. Though his days are spent working a full-time job while going to graduate school and preparing for a little one on the way, Jack shrugs off any notions that life may be a little crazy at the moment.

“It’s a happy price to pay,” he says. “I love the challenge.”

EPIC Spotlight: Isaac West

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Recent Sam M. Walton College of Business graduate Isaac West has three passions: business, faith, and social work. He spent his college years trying to combine these passions and will continue to do so as he enters the workforce.

West said he almost didn’t make it to college. “I never thought I would go to school at all. I grew up really poor and neither of my parents had gone to school. I didn’t think I was smart enough to go to college. I got into bad stuff—doing drugs and the whole party scene—during high school. Towards the end of my junior year, I thought, ‘This is dumb. I’m going to work hard and maybe go to college.’” So, he applied to the University of Arkansas. At first, his application was rejected, but West didn’t let that stop him. He took matters into his own hands. “I came up and talked to some people. I begged them to give me a chance. They said okay and told me not to screw up. So, I started school.”

West said he first majored in accounting, but he quickly realized he was meant for something else. His enthusiasm for giving back inspired him to study organizational management instead. “I saw and read about all these different organization really working hard trying to impact people’s lives, around the world. I saw this common pattern of people having these big hearts, wanting to change people’s lives, but they lack the business sense to run the business side of their operations efficiently. So I thought, maybe I could learn some business and help them out,” he said. “I saw that everything rises and falls on leadership. I chose organizational leadership because I wanted to understand how organizations run and how to manage and effectively lead people to help them reach their organization’s goals.” He chose to minor in economics because he found the subject “a lot of fun.” He said learning how economies work and develop really interested him. “A dream of mine is to go someplace and figure out a way to help the entire economy, to help these people get better educated and build up the economy,” West said.

In summer 2008, West participated in the university’s community development project in Belize, where a group of students aimed to help one town “in any way we possibly could.” West said he wanted to make an impact in the area, but he left frustrated. “There were all these professors who wanted to be completely committed didn’t have the funding to do so. There were professors in charge, but no one was actually leading the project. There were all these brains—all these incredibly smart professors and students—running around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to do stuff and not accomplishing really anything. The big gap in that was leadership. When I came back, I thought someone definitely needs to study this. I saw this gap in lots of organizations that I’d been reading about. This goes back to how I chose my major,” he said.

To help out at home, West mentored elementary-age students at Life Source International, a Fayetteville-based non-profit organization that works with at-risk families. He said he could really see the effect that organizations like Life Source have on those they try to help. He mentored a child who, when West met him, was failing the third grade. In a year’s time, the child was on the honor roll. He said his experience at Life Source taught him about another side of business. “There’s a side of nonprofits that you don’t really learn about in business school,” he said. “It was interesting to learn how you bring families in, or market to a family to bring them in, to try to help them.”

West said his three passions—business, Christianity, and social work—will play a major part of his future plans. “My parents worked very, very hard to give me and my brothers a better life than what they had. I want to do the same thing,” he said. “I want to create a family of my own, but I also want to fight for families around the world. I figure the best way I can do that is not to go start something and do my own thing, but rather stand behind organizations that are fighting for families around the world and trying to help them in any way I possibly can to reach their goals, whether through funding, marketing, organizational development, or just defining their goals.” To reach his own goals, West said he plans on working for three to five years, possibly pursuing a graduate degree, and then “jumping in” at a non-profit organization.

So, what do you get when you pull Isaac West off the shelf? West developed a personal brand statement to let people know exactly what he is all about: “To love God; empower, inspire, dream with, and encourage people; and pioneer ahead to reach the dream God has put in my heart.

EPIC Spotlight: Heather Phillips

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Hailing from the “Spinach Capital of the World”, Alma, recent graduate Heather Phillips made her mark on the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
Phillips was chosen as the Walton College Outstanding Graduating Senior as well as one of the Outstanding Students in Marketing and Logistics.

While awaiting her entry into the Peace Corps, Phillips is interning at The Harvest Group, a sales and marketing firm in Rogers. “I was accepted into the Peace Corps in February,” Phillips said. “I am now anxiously awaiting the official invitation that will tell me where I am going and when I am leaving.”

Phillips was nominated for the Business Advising program where she says she will be able to use her education to help small business owners in developing countries. “Although I would love to go somewhere warm, I chose the option that said I was willing to go anywhere,” Phillips said. “I have no idea where I will be sent!”

Always having a passion for helping those less fortunate led Phillips to choose the Peace Corps as the perfect route for her to take to combine both her interests and her major. “I have always thought about the Peace Corps as an option,” Phillips said. “I did not decide to apply until Christmas break of my senior year.”

Phillips said during her last year of school she volunteered at Seven Hills Homeless Shelter where she said throughout college she developed a love for the homeless culture. “This probably started when I went on a four week long Campus Crusade for Christ inner-city program in Seattle,” Phillips said. “I had the opportunity to work with the homeless, as well as with people in prison.”

“I have the utmost respect for the business school,” Phillips said. “When I entered college I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, but when I was advised by some older friends to not go as an undeclared major, I randomly decided to major in General Business, and then later found my niche in marketing.”

Phillips said it never ceases to amaze her how the Walton College has perfected the art of making its students a “tight-knit” community. “I have come to know and care about a large number of my professors because they truly care about their students’ success inside and outside of the classroom.”

Phillips said her parents are always impressed by how well she knows her professors, “it is simply not something you find at every university or even in every college at the University of Arkansas.”

As a freshman honors student, Phillips was put into a classes with the same group of people and she said it was nice to get to know her classmates early on because those were the people she had classes with during her entire college career. “The whole honors section became really close,” Phillips said. “I’ve already been to three of their weddings this summer!”

Phillips was also actively involved in her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, during her college career.

EPIC Spotlight: Hayley Cocker

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“The students are really bright. The research is brilliant.”

Hayley Cocker first learned about Arkansas from a jigsaw puzzle. She remembers as a child sitting in her home in Lancaster, England, putting together puzzle pieces that composed a map of the United States.

Sure, she knew about New York and California. But Arkansas? “It was one of the states I never really heard about,” she says.

That changed two years ago. A Ph.D. marketing student with Lancaster University in Lancaster, England, she presented a paper at a doctoral seminar at the University of Southern Denmark. It would be there – not the United States – when Arkansas began to have meaning to her life. Doing a presentation at the seminar was Jeff Murray, marketing department chair at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. With him was Anastasia Thyroff, a Ph.D. student from the college.

Hayley says she was impressed with their work and accepted their invitation to visit the University of Arkansas for a doctoral workshop. The experience was so rewarding, she says, she jumped at the opportunity to return this fall to teach integrated marketing communication at Walton College as she completes her doctorate.

She says her Walton College experience so far has been very rewarding. “The students are really bright,” she says. “The research is brilliant.”

It has also been a great time to share her country and background with her students. Hayley says one way she does that is by playing music from northwest England, where she’s from, such as rock band Oasis or some grime music, a genre of hip-hop that’s popular there. Her students have been known to return the favor; they have familiarized her with country musicians Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw.

Hayley says her interest in marketing began when she was an undergraduate business student at Lancaster University. She took courses that included management and economics, but her marketing classes resonated with her most, especially when it came to examining consumer behavior. “I have always been really curious and inquisitive about people,” she says.

She continued her education by earning a master’s degree in advanced marketing management at Lancaster University before working briefly in the business world for a research agency. While she says she enjoyed doing research, she found herself missing academia. Hayley wanted to teach.

Which brings her to the University of Arkansas, where she’s spending her final stretch as a doctoral student, teaching in an environment surrounded by consumer culture theory professors and students, she says.

The environment also aids in her research, which includes studying alcohol consumption practices among young adults with noticeable differences between those in the United States and the United Kingdom, she says. She also is studying how celebrities lend meaning to consumers’ lives.

While in Arkansas, she does a little local observing as well. For example, she says she finds herself photographing grocery store items on her smartphone and sending them to her friends and family back home. A jar of mayonnaise, for example, is monstrous compared to those in England, she says. Because it ties in with marketing, she pays close attention to television commercials as well.

Hayley says she is also taking time to indulge herself in the American experience. For example, she drove a Ford Mustang to Memphis and visited Graceland – Elvis Presley’s former home – as well as the National Civil Rights Museum and other tourist spots. She says traveling has been a normal part of her doctoral studies, but it’s usually for short periods of time. “I’ve never actually been away from my hometown, so Arkansas is really a huge deal for me,” she says.

EPIC Spotlight: Hannah Hobson

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“Because of my experience in the Walton College, I now look at the world through a marketing lens.”

Beginning a new school and an entirely new era in your life is both thrilling and intimidating as you enter your freshman year in college. Fortunately, the Sam M. Walton College of Business helped me in this adjustment by providing me the opportunity to attend the Walton Block Party the first week of school. It became a tradition to attend the block party every year to receive free stuff, free food, and most importantly, meet new faces. During my time at the Walton College, I have learned the importance of relationships and how fostering them can help you achieve your goals.

I have had the pleasure of learning from professors who have a passion for what they do. Professors such as Carole Shook, Dub Ashton, Steven Kopp and Molly Rapert have been instrumental in developing my passion for marketing. The pursuit of a marketing education opened the door for me to serve as an assistant marketing director for Chick-fil-A in Rogers, which then led to my current internship with Colgate-Palmolive. During the class Markets and Consumers, I was encouraged to pursue a major in marketing by Carole Shook. Although many professors might not understand the impact they have at moments like this, when the student is asking for advice such as which major to choose, these little moments are remembered and become stepping stones along a much larger path.

Dub Ashton had the ability to make a 7:30 a.m. summer session class one of the most intriguing and engaging classes I have taken in my college career. (Talk about talent!) His method of teaching in Introduction to Marketing Strategies has benefited me greatly because I can still recall much of what he taught, and it since has been retaught in my upper-level marketing classes. When I would visit with him, he was always kind, and always made sure I learned something new. Once when we were in the midst of a conversation, he reached into one of his bookshelves to pull out a book. He then gave it to me as a gift. To this day, I am still surprised he gave me a book that had his personal highlights in it.

Although I was disinterested in Marketing Research initially, as I dedicated more effort to the class it became my favorite of the semester and Steven Kopp became another professor who would influence my life in a positive way. He continuously helped students and would often become excited about a topic during class lectures. He was passionate about what he taught and was always encouraging and friendly. I saw him recently on campus and he said, “Come visit me anytime!”
During this semester, Molly Rapert has demonstrated an area of marketing that I have never experienced before. The creative, innovative and ever-changing side of marketing is exciting and stimulating. Her Marketing Management class is structured in such a way that it enables the freedom for students to actively engage in creativity through assignments, projects and exams. It is because of her class that I feel comfortable discussing current marketing trends with potential employers.

As a sophomore, I was able to meet Renee Clay and was urged by her to join Leadership Walton. Leadership Walton gave me a jump-start on career preparation through events such as career fairs and resume revision sessions. It was through a career fair, and through the level of professionalism I attained from Leadership Walton, that I was able to acquire an internship with Colgate-Palmolive. While working with Colgate-Palmolive, I have learned many skills and gained valuable knowledge I expect to utilize in future occupations.

Every semester, the Walton College has presented me with projects within my classes. This semester, I am working on several projects that I am excited about, including working with the nonprofit Youth Strategies to create a cause-marketing plan through my Nonprofit Marketing class and working with Ozark Natural Foods through my Marketing Management class to create marketing strategies to implement within the store.

Because of my experience in the Walton College, I now look at the world through a marketing lens.

Reflecting on my first week at the University of Arkansas, when I was intimidated by the uncertainty ahead, I realize that I am writing the last few sentences in perhaps one of the most meaningful chapters of my life. I am truly grateful for all those in the Walton College who have invested in me. It is because of them that I am more prepared to meet the uncertainty that is certain to occur. As I finish writing this chapter, and begin the next, I know that much of what I have learned while attending the Walton College, with particular emphasis on relationships, will guide my pen.

EPIC Spotlight: Ethan Spiva

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Ethan Spiva thought he might become a physician’s assistant. It seemed like a natural choice since his mother is an occupational therapist and his father works in pharmaceutical sales.

When he became a freshman at the University of Arkansas, he took some science classes. His second semester in college, he tried out entry-level courses in the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

The connection was there, in a way it never was with the medical profession. He changed his major from “undeclared” to both accounting and finance. With his love for math, this made perfect sense, he says. “I’m very attentive and like having everything in order,” he says.

Now Ethan has immersed himself in the Walton College experience. He says the George W. Edwards Jr. Career Center has been extremely helpful in planning his next move: finding a job when he graduates. He says the center’s staff helped him refine his resume to give it a business focus instead of a general one.

“College isn’t just about your grades anymore,” he says. “It’s about building your resume.”

Ethan is building his resume this summer with an accounting internship at Koch Industries Inc. in Wichita, Kan. He credits the Career Center staff with helping him secure that, too. He says they coached him on how to give an effective telephone interview, which led to his in-person interview with Koch Industries, a company that specializes in energy.

Ethan says he’s keeping an open mind about what he might do after graduation, though he hopes to go into sales, preferably in Cincinnati, Ohio, which he says is a business hub for many major corporations. He says he hasn’t ruled out continuing his education with an Integrated Master of Accountancy (IMAcc) degree and is studying to take the Graduate Management Admissions Test, which one must pass before attending a graduate school in business.

Whatever he decides to do, Ethan is looking forward to the relationships he builds once he begins a career. “The business world isn’t just sitting in cubicles,” he says.

Ethan, of Springfield, Mo., says he was familiar with Fayetteville, having visited an uncle who once worked in Northwest Arkansas. He says the landscape, along with the town’s “strong football atmosphere,” was one of the many things that lured him to the University of Arkansas.

Ethan is active as a Walton College Ambassador, where his duties include giving tours to prospective business students. He is also a member of the university chapter of Students Acquiring Knowledge through Enterprise (S.A.K.E.) and the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, where he will serve as president for 2012. In addition, he tutors for Business Foundations students. Ethan has also served in various roles, including treasurer, for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. His spare time is spent hanging out with his friends, visiting Dickson Street and watching football games.

Yet, right now his mind is focused on his future, he says. “At Walton College, there are so many opportunities,” he says.

EPIC Spotlight: Ernst Wittenschläger

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Each day, as Ernst Wittenschläger drives to his office, he passes by the local state university where his exams are proctored. He lives in Newmarket, N.H. He goes to school at the University of Arkansas.

When Ernst was offered a chance to transfer to the New Hampshire school, he did some research. Continuing his monthly 3,000 mile roundtrip commute to Fayetteville was more affordable – even when figuring in his flight, hotel and car rental, he says.

Plus, the Sam M. Walton College of Business is ranked higher. This is what lured him to the school in the first place, he says.

“When I considered the entire package, Walton College was the best deal going, hands down,” he says.

As a student of Walton College’s Managerial Master’s of Business Administration program, which meets one Saturday a month, Ernst will complete the program at the end of the summer following nearly two years of hopping on a plane and trekking across country.

He says it all began two years ago when he lived in Joplin, Mo., and was working for TAMKO Building Products Inc. He and his colleagues were looking for a college in the region where they could further their business education. They soon realized Walton College had the most to offer.

Just a few weeks into his first year at the college, Ernst moved to New England to pursue a better opportunity. “I’ve been commuting for nearly the entire program. I’ve even flown in for class from Europe a few times,” he says.

He says he appreciates the flexible curriculum, which allows for substituting certain electives in place of other classes. In particular, it enabled him to take Advanced Corporate Finance, taught by Tomas Jandik, a challenge he says he enjoyed. “It was very, very hard,” he says. “It was the best.”

Ernst grew up in both Germany and Richmond, Va., with a German father and an American mother. His bachelor’s degree, which he earned at the United States Naval Academy, was in political science with a minor in systems engineering, he says. Upon graduation, he served in the Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. During the Iraq War, he and his boarding team inspected merchant ships for weapons, drugs and any other items that could be a threat.

When he left active duty, he discovered that his management and leadership skills acquired in the Navy were attractive to employers but he wasn’t sure he was fully prepared.

“I was simply clueless to the business world outside of the military,” he says. “I would hear the words ‘sales and marketing,’ ‘supply chain,’ ‘finance,’ but I had no idea what they really meant.” He would soon find out.

Ernst was hired to work as a territory manager in supply chain operations for Wolsely PLC, which manufactures plumbing and building products, in Newport News, Va. His supply chain experience coupled with his knowledge of German led to his promotion to manager of corporate supply chain. He was relocated to Zurich, Switzerland, where he managed the European supply chain operations. When the company closed the Zurich office, Ernst took a position with TAMKO and moved back to the United States.

“I had spent so much time in supply chain, I really didn’t know much about the other parts of a business enterprise outside of the supply chain,” he says. “I had a strong desire to have a more holistic understanding of the entire end-to-end business, especially the finance end of the business.”

He says Walton College has helped him meet those goals, even if he had to travel 3,000 miles each month to do it.