Monday, March 21, 2011

Young Alumnae See No Limits, Open Cupcake Store and Start Local Adventure Race

What's the connection between delicious cupcakes and the addictive sport of adventure racing? Well, there's actually two- Kristen Beckmeyer '01 and Meredith Sullivan '01. The Cameron School of Business graduates opened their first cupcake store, Coastal Cupcakes in downtown Wilmington in July, 2008. Fueled by its success, a second store opened in Wrightsville Beach in May, 2009. Now, ready to take on more of the local action, the pair teamed up with fellow alumnus, Jason Wheeler '99, '03M, to form the Sandman Adventure Race.

Much like when they realized that Wilmington had a shortage of designer, quality-made cupcakes, the women saw a gap in the market and started the local "sprint" race. "Many of our friends were interested in doing an adventure race but were intimidated by the 8-12 hour races that we compete in," explained Kristen.

The pair has their share of experience on and off the field. Kristen worked for the Wilmington Hammerheads, while Meredith was on the UNCW Cross Country and Track & Field teams and held an internship with both Seahawk Athletics and the Boston Celtics.

While the two stay focused on their business, Kristen agrees with Meredith about the importance of networking. "My time at UNCW was a great foundation but the university has become an even more valuable resource for us since graduating," she stated.

They continue to be members of the Seahawk Club and enjoy watching games on campus. Staying connected with the business school, they are mentors and share their journey to becoming business owners with current students.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Alumna Manages National Marketing Firm and Big Name Accounts From the Port City

"We all have limited time and limited energy - put yours where it matters most." This lesson that Trudy Maus '91, '97M learned from one of her business courses at UNCW has made a big impact on her career. Using a cost-benefit comparison when faced with decisions and tasks has led Trudy to become a co-owner of BannerDirect, a New York City based marketing agency.

When Trudy reflects back on why she decided to attend UNCW she states, "I wanted my professors to know my name - I didn't want to be just a number. I researched several "smaller" universities in North Carolina and toured a few campuses. When I arrived at UNCW, I immediately fell in love."

Starting as a Psychology major, then switching to Mathematics and later Finance, Trudy realized her passion lies in Marketing after taking a required course. "It combined all the majors I was considering... Psychology (what makes consumers tick), Mathematics and Finance (sales/budgets/ROI)." Shortly after receiving her undergraduate degree, she began working with BannerDirect, out of their Wilmington office. "It was the best of both worlds - I worked on large accounts in New York City, while being able to stay in Wilmington."

When addressing challenges in her field Trudy states, "Marketing agency work involves long hours, tight deadlines and a lot of travel. It gets the adrenaline going, but you need to be prepared to re-schedule vacations and spend Christmas Eve snowed in at the airport. Flexibility is key to surviving and thriving in marketing."

Trudy enjoys coming back to campus to see its growth while still maintaining the "most beautiful campus in North Carolina". She's actively involved on the Alumni Board of Directors and encourages others to stay engaged with the university. "UNCW gave me a great education in which to build my career. I enjoy seeing this impact on future graduates."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recent Graduate Works to Help Create Local Jobs, Enhance K-12 Education and Foster an Entrepreneurial Environment

Fresh out of labs and study sessions, Sallie Smyth '08, '10M who received her MPA from UNCW last May, is putting her knowledge to good use for our region. As program coordinator for Cape Fear Future, Sallie describes it as a natural fit, "Cape Fear Future is about job creation, business and employee retention, K-12 education enhancement, quality of life, and fostering an entrepreneurial environment. I collaborate with local, state, and federal government, the private sector, the community, tri-county school systems and other nonprofits. My education integrated these different sectors into our studies because when it comes to policy, management, and economic development, all these components come together and play a part."

Sallie came to UNCW to study political science. By the second week of classes she had attended her first City Council meeting and made plans to buy a home in Wilmington. Working on campus and also interning with the City of Wilmington, she admittedly developed a, "lifetime commitment to a community I have fallen in love with".

Sallie deems networking as one of the things she learned at UNCW that has most benefitted the start of her career. She continues to grow her networks at events hosted by UNCW's Entrepreneurship Center. "The director, Jonathan Rowe Ph.D, hosts multiple events for young entrepreneurs and business students. It’s great to get out there and see their youthfulness, enthusiasm and hard work rolled into a professional business model." Another way she enjoys staying connected to UNCW is by, "going back  to Leutze Hall and visiting with my professors—they really helped shape me as a person and have continued to reach out during my post-graduate career. I cannot thank them enough for their ongoing support and guidance."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Business Executive and Civic Leader Shares Insight on How We Can Impact Our Local Economy

Vice president at John S. Clark Co., Livian Jones '95M, believes in giving back to her community. The Charlotte native earned a criminal justice and pre-law degree from Appalachian State University before moving to Wilmington to complete an MBA from UNCW. Livian has been in the construction and engineering industry for more than 20 years and stays actively involved in numerous community and civic organizations.

Alumni and members of the community will have an opportunity to hear Livian present on our individual impact on local economic development at the next CSB Alumni Chapter Speaker Breakfast on April 7. Guests will enjoy a networking breakfast before the presentation in the Burney Center on UNCW's campus. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased online prior to April 3.

Livian has stayed connected with UNCW as a former member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Foundation Board. Locally she has helped lead two "Women's Build" Habitat Houses, served as a commissioner on the Wilmington Housing Authority and on the commissioning committee of both the SSN North Carolina Submarine and USS Gravely Destroyer. In addition to serving on many local organizations' board of directors, such as the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Child Advocacy (CAPP), and the Cape Fear Council Boy Scouts, she founded and operates her own non-profit, Furniture Finders, which provides basic furnishings for underprivileged families.