Orrington, Maine native Nicole Gogan is 2011 graduate of the Maine Business School and a former business counselor with the UMaine School of Economics Knowledge Transfer Alliance, a free program that helps small businesses with basic business analysis, planning and efficiency. She now is an economic development specialist with the Brewer (Maine) Economic Development Office and says her business counseling experience helped her understand the challenges and strategies of small business operations.
What years were you at UMaine?
Spring 2009-May 2011
What degree do you have from UMaine?
M.B.A., Management Concentration
What led you to choose UMaine?
Interestingly enough, when my sister and I were little, my parents would take us to UMaine and tell us that “one day, we would be able to go to college at a campus like this.” I didn’t do my undergrad at UMaine, and never thought I would go to UMaine. I was to USM for my M.B.A. when I ended up transferring to UMaine in order to help take care of my mother, who was having health issues at the time. I was thankful UMaine had an M.B.A. program, as it was somewhat of a necessity.
What research initiatives were you involved in while at UMaine?
I worked with Knowledge Transfer Alliance through a full-time assistantship.
How did UMaine prepare you for what you are doing now?
I was fortunate to have worked a number of years before I went back to school for my master’s, which is what I would recommend to anyone going for an M.B.A. Bringing work experience into the classroom is invaluable. But, I think being at the Maine Business School helped me think more strategically and globally. It also reiterates the importance of teamwork. In nearly every class, you had to work on a team in some way.
What was your career path like after graduation?
Thankfully, I had gotten my job with the city of Brewer just prior to graduation. I got the job through personal connections, both direct and indirectly. I know it is sometimes easy to get caught up in schoolwork, but as business students, you should never underestimate the power of networking and relationship building. The social aspect is very much a critical part of the M.B.A.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Here in Brewer, the focus is very much on teamwork at all levels. I love it when you brainstorm about a solution or opportunity, and then you get additional feedback that then builds on the original and makes it that much better. From there, I like to help create, organize and execute the plan. It’s a great feeling when a bunch of people come together and can solve a problem, particularly for a Brewer business or new project.
Did you have any favorite professors or classes, and what lessons still resonate today?
I had a lot of great professors, each of whom contributed to my learning in very different ways. For example, Paul Myer, Stephanie Welcomer, Jason Harkins, John Mahon. The one lesson that immediately comes to mind is knowing your audience, which, unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way.
Was there a class that almost did you in? Is there a lesson to be learned from your experience?
Statistics nearly killed me, as did business law. They were both important, but I’m not a numbers person, and I most certainly don’t have the analytical mind to ever want to be an attorney. I learned that you should learn how to hire professionals in areas in which you have neither interest nor expertise.
Most memorable moment at UMaine?
1st Annual Maine Business School MBA Golf Tournament at PVCC.
Favorite places on campus?
I know I should say the obvious ones — the Rec Center, Buchanan Alumni House, the Mall in the spring time — but to be perfectly honest, it was anywhere food could be found.
Image Description: Nicole Gogan