June 17, 2013-
After graduation from Mount Ida College, Kerlee Nicolas ’08 joined ConAgra Foods, a leading Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company in North America. As a Business Administration alumnus, Kerlee Nicolas found his niche in the industry where he works as an Associate Category Manager with grocery brands at Wal-Mart. In his current role, he focuses on sales trends and key drivers, and creates a story of why his company should or should not move forward with a business decision.
Applying Classroom Lessons
“The academic program at Mount Ida had a great influence on my ability to immediately understand the business principles I would face in the professional world, and gave me the tools for a strong foundation in my career,” said Nicolas. “There are many things that can only be learned with experience, but knowing the basics of supply and demand, cost and margin, how to market a good or service, and understanding what drives consumers to purchase will give you a competitive advantage when entering the work force.”
Possibilities Become a Reality
Prior to graduating from college, Nicolas worked as a Retail Sales Associate for Kraft Foods Frozen Pizza Division. In this role, he woke up at 4 a.m. every day to sell cases of frozen pizza to grocery stores in the Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire area, always making it to class by the afternoon. From that experience, he was promoted when his company was acquired by Nestle USA. After a year and a half, he moved on to work at ConAgra Foods in Bentonville, Arkansas. In the fall 2013, he will begin a part-time MBA program at the University of Arkansas.
“To me, being a Mount Ida graduate represents opportunity,” concluded Nicolas. “I feel blessed and forever grateful for the college and faculty members who took their time to educate and mentor me along the way. No matter where life takes me, I will always have a Mustang family back home.”