Putting It Into Practice

2015 Commencement speaker shares his U experience and goals for the future

Every year nearly 15,000 students graduate from the University of Minnesota and embark on the next step in their journey, joining U of M alumni around the world. This spring, the Class of 2015 will begin to make its mark in health care, technology, business, and agriculture, fueling innovation with boundless energy and the skills to create the future.

U alumni include founders and presidents of fortune 500 companies, visionary artists and authors, 55 members of congress (plus 19 governors and two U.S. vice presidents), and thousands more working to make a difference every day.

Who will the class of 2015 become?

We spoke with one of those 2015 grads, the Manufacturing Operations Management Program's Brandon McNellis, about his experience at the U and his plans for the future.

2015 CCE Commencement speaker Brandon McNellis addresses the audience

Brandon McNellis, the 2015 CCE Commencement student speaker, always knew he wanted to pursue a degree in business, but until the end of his sophomore year, he wasn’t sure of a specific direction. He chose Manufacturing Operations Management (MM) because he saw that this degree would give him a broad preparation for the many areas of business that interest him. The applied nature of the degree gave him real-world relevancy, and the flexibility of it allowed him to pursue a focus on supply chain management.

He’ll be putting his talents to work immediately following graduation working for an import distribution company of custom-engineered components in a dual role of supply chain analyst and manufacturer’s sales representative.

How do you see yourself having an impact on the world?

By sharing my knowledge, and using what I know to help others. I’ve found my true passion and could not be more excited for the industry I am about to be entering. I will be making a direct positive impact on many different levels within my career, and I look forward to the day that I am able to help others looking to get the same out of life!

How has your education helped to prepare you?

My education directly prepared me for my career. Everything I learned on an educational basis, along with the professional and networking skills I gained, will [come into play].  And, of course, the relationships I have built here—and plan to maintain—have set me up for the future, as well.

What’s most exciting about graduating?

That the best is still yet to come! These past four years have absolutely been the best of my life, and have gone by faster than I could ever imagine. If they are any indication as to how my future will be, I absolutely cannot wait to [start on that journey]. Being able to be in a career as a business professional, directly applying what I’ve learned these past few years is priceless. I will actually be able to take the things I have spent so much time on to learn and retain and use it to excel my career.

Did anything about your College experience surprise you?

The biggest (pleasant) surprise was in the value of networking; in how being able to meet people and build a relationship with them on a personal level can make you that much more successful in life. I have always been a very outgoing and energetic person, and in college, I used that to my advantage—I tried to meet as many people as possible, and I hope to retain my relationships with them, as I’ve had the chance to learn from and work with “the best of the best.”  

I put hard work into my education and studies, and received my degree… And I was able to network and connect with people and make relationships I will keep for the rest of my life. Those are both great things to take away!