By Michelle Shember
Jessica Smith, B.B.A.’09 counts walking across the stage with her degrees from Western Michigan University in general business and management and then again with her MBA in computer information systems as her proudest achievements. Smith would graduate to use the skills and knowledge achieved in her studies to become an IT operations analyst for Kellogg.
As a transfer student, Smith was drawn to Western. “I looked at several other schools. I was impressed with the quality for the cost that WMU offered. There was also a very inviting environment, and I felt welcomed by the entire campus,” says Smith.
Smith originally chose WMU for the art and graphic design program but was pleasantly surprised when she decided to change her focus to business and saw that a top-rated business school awaited her. In her time as an undergraduate, she dabbled in supply chain and finance at the Haworth College of Business. “I decided that I wanted to create my own well-rounded program, and the college offered the flexibility for me to do that,” says Smith.
The business foundations and principles Smith studied in her time at Western prepared her in many ways for the fast-paced business environment she entered as a professional, and she credits much of her success to the skills she gained in the college of business.
“It really gave a foundation for every day work. The other day, a vice president requested activity based costing on a presentation I gave. Having the fundamentals gave me the knowledge to respond quickly and in an intelligent way,” says Smith. “My major courses exponentially improved my presentation skills. When first entering the college, presentations would leave me catatonic. I shook like a leaf and would blank on the simplest topics. Now, I am presenting to several different audiences, including the CIO of Kellogg, and I feel completely comfortable. I even get compliments on my style and demeanor.”
Smith is now an associate IT operations analyst, working under the umbrella of Digital Marketing IT, which manages any website or mobile app associated with Kellogg. With 600+ websites worldwide, this results in a very global position for Smith, as she manages the process they follow for onboarding sites.
“I just returned from a trip to Bangalore and Warsaw to meet with our partners. Beyond the process, I am also responsible for demand planning, senior leadership team dashboards for IT operations, system administration of our project management software, and much more,” says Smith. “The biggest opportunity in this position is to create a fully global-friendly environment. It has the potential to really reach out to global partners and make them feel important in the process.”
Ambitious, Smith has many goals for her career. “I really want to magnify the global nature of the position. I would like to be able to work with all regions and travel to expand my own development in global business,” says Smith. “My goals include overseeing a larger-scale project, transitioning into more of a management role and always learning as much as possible.”