Sum of experiences adds up to career success for new alum
In the best business deals the more you invest, the better the reward. From day one, Phillip Johnson, FIN ’16, invested heavily in his Oakland University School of Business Administration opportunities. That effort paid off with the launch of his career at Meritor, one of the world’s leading automotive suppliers.
Johnson joined Meritor through its Emerging Leader Development program, a three-year, on-the-job training experience created for “top-notch, ambitious college graduates.” That description matches Johnson perfectly and underscores the way he approached his education at Oakland, where he was active in student organizations and took advantage of everything from academic competitions to study abroad programs.
Learning by doing
Much of Johnson’s approach was born from the supportive environment he found at Oakland’s business school. It felt, Johnson says, like he was part of “a small community” led by professors and administrators who motivated students through opportunity.
“The amount of resources that the Oakland business school invested in us was really unparalleled,” Johnson says. “You can’t go to another university and get the same attention from your professors or have the chance to get involved in as many student organizations as you do at OU. Here, you control your experience.”
Phillip Johnson, FIN ’16Financial Analyst, Meritor
Emerging Leader Development Program: Three one-year rotations that progress in challenge and responsibility providing a broad range of business and operational experiences.
BS Finance, Oakland University, cum laude, 2016
Program Controlling Intern, Ford Global at Faurecia; Tax Accounting Intern, Rehmann; Financial Analyst, Weber Automotive
Frances C. Amos Scholarship
Marvin L. Katke Scholarship
Patti Finnegan Sharf Study Abroad Scholarship
Alfred G. Wilson Award
Beta Gamma Sigma
Outstanding Officer of the Year for Student Activity Funding Board Chair
International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition, California, first place best overall performance; first place business documentation
Reinventing Michigan Competition, third place
Student Managed Investment Fund, powered by The Kresge Foundation
International Travel: Ireland/Hungary
Global Business Brigades
Those resources included scholarship support, including the Frances C. Amos and the Marvin L. Katke awards, which allowed Johnson to focus on his coursework and other academic experiences.
Throughout his years at Oakland, Johnson took part in the university’s broad range of student organizations and served as the Student Activities Funding Board Chair for a year.
Beyond the classroom, Johnson also explored international travel opportunities, including a donor-supported expedition to Europe in the winter of 2016, during which he and a group of classmates traveled to Hungary and Ireland to see first-hand how multinational corporations operate.
The experience, Johnson says, “opened up my way of thinking.” Today, he says, “one of my number one goals is to work overseas at some point.”
A life-changing return on investment
By taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible, Johnson believes he has a lot more to show for his education than just a diploma. “From the student organizations, I not only learned about other areas of business within and beyond my major, I also learned what it would be like when I graduated and worked with others.”
Those experiences allowed Johnson to explore the many facets of a business education and career before finding his niche. He came to Oakland as an Economics major, but soon found himself drawn to Finance — another benefit of his participation in student organizations. “They allowed me to learn about other areas, and that’s how I found finance as a passion. Before I jumped into it as a major, I got a chance to explore it.”
It was a passion that took hold. “Oakland’s business school cultivated my love of finance,” he says. “I liked being able to look at financial statements and see the health of a company, the way a doctor would check the vitals of a patient. Business shapes the world.”
Working with peers, professors and industry professionals at OU made an indelible impression on Johnson. “The most important thing was the relationships I made with people,” he says. “The experiences I had were very diverse and in-depth. I was able to work in teams in different fields and establish lifelong relationships.”
Oakland’s supportive environment allowed him to learn from mistakes and build on newly gained skills. “I’m most proud of that growth,” he says. “The best thing about Oakland’s business school is the culture. There is a special place here for everyone to get involved, learn, grow and have amazing experiences.”