Young Alumni Start Careers at Minnesota’s Prestigious Corporations

Posted on April 3rd, 2015 by

Nine months ago you would have been able to find Joey MacGibbon ’14, Krista Ripperton ’14, and Michael Morimoto ’14 roaming around the Gustavus Adolphus College campus enjoying their final days as undergraduate students. Today you can find them in the offices of three of Minnesota’s most prestigious corporations: General Mills, United Health Group, and 3M.

They each took a unique path from the day they stepped foot on the Gustavus campus to where they are today, but the similarities in their stories are striking. Academic coursework, influential faculty members, and access to a wide array of extra-curricular activities were all pieces to the puzzle as they grew into attractive candidates for Minnesota employers.

Management, Mentors, and Tennis

Joey MacGibbon '14

Joey MacGibbon ’14

Joey MacGibbon secured a job with General Mills after graduation as a Field Customer Specialist. His main responsibilities involve building business with foodservice operators in the Kansas City, Missouri market. He works with key operators in the K-12, college and university, healthcare, lodging, and business and industry segments.

MacGibbon majored in management at Gustavus and said that taking classes from faculty members who had experience in the professional world before becoming professors was beneficial to him.

“I felt like them bringing in that experience and sharing their knowledge they gained was the most impactful for me,” MacGibbon said. “I also believe the small classes sizes assisted in my development as we were able to learn more hands-on. We were able to ask questions and present in front of the class, which emulates what sales is.”

One of the faculty members who had a lasting impact on MacGibbon was Kathi Tunheim, the College’s Board of Trustees Endowed Chair in Management and Leadership within the Department of Economics and Management. Tunheim brings with her that corporate experience that MacGibbon referenced, having spent nearly 30 years in the corporate world at places such as Northwest Airlines and American Express Financial Advisors.

“Kathi had the largest influence on my business career—she laid out almost every possible situation we would run across. Every 50 minute class period in Organization Behavior with Kathi was beneficial,” MacGibbon said. “She taught us how to act and be professional. In my mind, numbers and calculations are all great, but when it comes down to the wire, what makes the difference is the first impression you have on your employer or customer and Kathi emphasized those things.”

MacGibbon also took advantage of the Gustavus Mentoring Program—a program that pairs Gustavus students with Gustavus alumni to enhance personal and professional growth.

“My mentor guided me through my interview process and gave me great insight on the day-to-day grind of being in business/sales,” MacGibbon said. “The pairing has been great for me. He has put more time and effort into my development as a businessman than I could have ever hoped for. We still talk and discuss our lives together on a bi-monthly basis and I think this will continue into the future. I can’t thank the Mentoring Program enough for the assistance in my professional career.”

MacGibbon was also involved in athletics at Gustavus as he was an integral member of the men’s tennis team, which won four MIAC Championships during his four years.

“Playing tennis at Gustavus made me the person who I am today. The program is truly an honor to play for,” MacGibbon said. “I learned how to be a leader, give my full effort no matter the circumstance, stay positive, and to control the things I can control. In terms of my work day, I can’t control whether the operator will purchase from me, but I can control my preparation, my selling techniques, my knowledge of the products, and how many customers I will visit throughout the day.”

Finding Her Passion: Human Resources

Krista Ripperton '14

Krista Ripperton ’14

Like MacGibbon, Krista Ripperton majored in management at Gustavus and was influenced by Professor Tunheim when she took Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management.

“It was during her HR class when I realized that this was a field that I was really interested in pursuing after graduation,” Ripperton said. “Not only that, but all of the activities and assignments for the class involved practicing skills that I was able to use during my job search as well as in my current HR role.”

Ripperton is an HR Service Advisor for United Health Group, which is headquartered in Minnetonka and is No. 14 on Fortune magazine’s top 500 companies in the United States. Ripperton works in the company’s HR call center, taking calls from United Health Group employees on issues ranging from payroll to workplace policies.

“I think all of the hands on experience I had during my time at Gustavus is what prepared me most to join the workforce after I graduated. The smaller class sizes allowed for more interaction with professors and students during class discussions and group projects,” Ripperton said. “I felt that professors were always concerned with teaching how to apply things we learned in class to life after Gustavus. At Gustavus I learned important skills like how to handle myself professionally in a variety of situations and how to problem solve while working with co-workers.”

Ripperton also gained valuable leadership experience as a four-year member and two-year captain of the Gustavus Dance Team. As an alumna, she now serves as one of the coaches for the team.

“Being part of the dance team is where I got much of my leadership experience,” Ripperton said. “That experience allowed me to realize what I was capable of if I set my mind to something,”

Embracing Leadership Opportunities

Michael Morimoto '14

Michael Morimoto ’14

Michael Morimoto was one of those college students who seemed to be involved in everything on campus. He was a Gustie Greeter, sang in the Gustavus Choir, was a member of Student Senate, the Campus Activities Board and the Epsilon Pi Alpha fraternity, and interned in the Office of Admission.

“Being involved in these organizations gave me numerous opportunities to develop myself as a leader,” Morimoto said. “Being a member of a fraternity allowed me to unlock my creative potential by acting as our publicity executive for two years. Being a Gustie Greeter allowed me to lead a group of my peers, act as a mentor, and plan events for more than 700 students, which gave me tremendous insight into what I wanted to do in the future. Greeters also taught me how to be successful in an organization despite difficult leadership.”

Morimoto is currently in 3M’s Human Resources Leadership Development Program. His first rotation is in the company’s Global Mobility sector within its Total Compensation Resource Center, where he is serving as a Program Lead/Global Mobility Analyst. Morimoto is charged with driving two initiatives within Global Mobility to improve the company’s internal processes and develop a new web-based system.

Morimoto majored in international management and minored in Japanese studies at Gustavus and says his four years at the College were instrumental in his professional development. Building relationships with faculty members was a key part of that development.

“Kathi Tunheim and Kristian Braekkan were the most important mentors that I had at Gustavus, in both a personal and professional capacity, as they both expanded my learning beyond the classroom,” Morimoto said. “They both understood that my personal development was just as critical as my in-class studies in order to be successful in the workforce.”

Morimoto stressed that his experiences in Gustavus classrooms were not only about gaining knowledge, but developing skills that would help him succeed after graduation.

“My focused courses within international management and classics allowed me to work with real world clients, taught me how to successfully manage teams, and most importantly, taught me how to think,” he said. “Gustavus coursework broadened my perspective of the world and taught me how to look at a problem in unique and innovative ways. These critical skills are the foundation of why I am successful at 3M and truly how I became the leader I am today.”


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