Business course provides students an opportunity to work with Loyola alumni
By Adriana Geday | Student reporter
Alumnus Thomas Niman, EMBA ’09, has found a good reason to return again and again to Quinlan: the current students offer “remarkable value” and “fresh insights” into issues his employer faces.
Niman, who is director of business operations and systems integration for Snap-on Credit, has served for the past three years as a client for Requirements Analysis and Communication (ISSCM 349). Taught by professors Gezinus J. Hidding and James McGee, this engaged learning class produces a report and an executive presentation about solution recommendations and detailed requirements for a particular system in a business.
In each of the three undergraduate classes, Snap-on Credit was assigned a team of students who researched requirement specifications for a Snap-on Credit project, prepared a report, and presented to Niman and his colleagues on what the particular system should do.
According to McGee, a key project goal is to provide actionable insights to client companies. Hidding adds that in the process, the students gain valuable real-world experience and an opportunity to put into action what they are learning, both of which are important aspects of the Jesuit approach to teaching called Ignatian Pedagogy.
“All of the information that has been provided by the students and all of the work that was done by the class has been extremely beneficial,” says Niman. “The students provide in-depth information and make it easy for our management team to make a decision.”
Here, Niman reflects on the valuable partnership between Quinlan and Snap-on Credit and his time at Loyola—both as a student and now as a client.
Why do you come back to Quinlan as a client?
I have great respect for the professors and the people I interacted with as a student, and this opportunity is a way of giving back to Loyola and bringing a “real” business application to the course work.
I take pride in providing students with this ongoing real-world experience—textbook theory is one thing, but how to apply it in the workforce is a different story. Anything that I can do to help make the business school experience even better and more meaningful for the current students makes my job all that more worthwhile.
How have the students helped Snap-on Credit?
This is our third time working with Professor Hidding and Professor McGee and the Requirements Analysis and Communications course. In the previous courses, we worked on an address standardization (Zip+4) project that is moving to production in February 2017, and a human resources “automated performance review” system that is under senior management consideration at this time.
The “Zip+4” project will improve the quality of our address data on a global basis, which in turn will help improve our effectiveness and reduce costs. The HR project has the potential to streamline a very manual process, and provide the opportunity for data analytics that presently does not exist.
The current project deals with improving customer service, around the world, as our customers move from one locale to another, while accounting for currency translation across six different currencies. The project touches on multiple disciplines and has a number of stakeholders both inside and outside of the organization. It allows students to pull in skills from all Quinlan coursework and apply them to this project.
How would you describe partnering with Quinlan students?
It has been an absolutely beneficial and positive partnership. The students at Quinlan are bright, inquisitive, and really dive in to try and understand from a business perspective what the project is how and how they can help our organization move forward.
Students gain invaluable hands-on experience through the partnership, and it’s tremendously beneficial for Snap-on Credit, too. Given the amount of research students do for the project, they provide insights on strategies we may have not realized. It also provides me with some understanding of who’s coming into the workforce and how equipped they are.
We will continue to partner with Quinlan as often as we are asked.
How many Quinlan graduates work with you?
At Snap-on Credit, Andy Tressler, vice president of finance, and John Watters, vice president of operations and IT, both earned their Executive MBA at Quinlan. There are many more Quinlan graduates at Snap-on Incorporated, our parent company.