MiM Alumni Profiles

Read our alumni profiles to get a glimpse into the lives of our alumni and how their Butler MiM degree has helped them reach leadership positions in their careers.

MiM alumna Brendan WatkinsBrendan Watkins competed in multiple collegiate sports as an undergraduate and majored in Industrial Engineering Technology.

In 2020, he completed his degree with a spring season of eligibility remaining in track and field, so he decided to do what he’s always done best: separate himself from the competition.

“I wanted to take my talents elsewhere while getting a master’s that benefited my career,” Wakins said. “I applied to one school, and it was Butler.”

Over the next year, he set the Butler men’s triple jump record with a distance of 15.34 meters, helped his 4×100 relay team run a record-breaking time of 41.13,  and earned his master’s in management.

Before graduating, Hostess Brands had already hired him for his current job as a corporate engineering specialist and project manager, despite having limited work experience.

“My master’s was a real asset,” Watkins said. “I remember when interviewing and my manager said, ‘You’re the only one of us that has a master’s degree.’ Hostess hired me with the least experience, so my MiM helped me get this job.”

His coursework also taught him practical tools that apply to his role as a project manager. At Butler, he learned accounting principles, business best practices, and other financial tools.

“I deal with major capital projects with budgets that range up to $9 million,” Watkins said. “You have to manage that money. It’s essentially other people’s money; they trust you to manage it without overspending and to allocate it correctly. So, it’s very fascinating how much my Butler’s education impacts me because it’s evident on a day-to-day basis.”

The projects range from overseeing the installation of industrial ovens to assisting in the production of new baked goods like Hostess Bouncers, the company’s first entry into the poppable (small cakes) market.

Since he’s often looking toward future Hostess endeavors, Watkins must stay on his toes as he encounters new and unforeseen obstacles.

“There was a problem-solving/critical thinking course that was one of the first courses I took,” Watkins said. “We learned how to help other people in certain situations and how to support the business, but it also teaches you to think creatively and critically think through problems. It was a mind-opening class.”

He’s responsible for hiring and managing contractors for each project, which could mean supervising up to 50 people.

“I deal with a lot of contractors,” Watkins said. “It’s amusing just how many contractors I’ve met who went to Butler. It’s unique. Our alumni base is strong, and I’m very grateful. We can come together quickly, and it helps create a friendly environment.”

The skills and connections Watkins acquired at Butler have already paid dividends in his current role and set him up for future success.

“My ultimate goal is to be a CEO or run my own business,” Watkins said. “One of the trends I’ve noticed in people with those backgrounds is they have a technical and business background.”

Once again, Watkins is already two steps ahead of his competition.

MIM alumna Kamryn HankinsKamryn Hankins is a surgical territory manager with Hologic, Inc. She’s worked in the medical sales industry since graduating from Butler’s Master’s in Management program in 2022.

It’s a rare feat for someone to enter her field straight out of college. A few recruiters even laughed at her ambition to do so and encouraged her to pursue an entry-level sales position first.

Instead, Hankins found a way to circumvent the status quo.

“A lot of people say you need sales experience to get into medical device sales,” she said. “My MiM prepared me to sell myself as a young professional, which may seem like the most basic form of sales, but it’s probably the most valuable. Through different exercises in my classes at Butler, I learned the skills I need to get my first job in the industry.”

Now, she spends her days traveling western Iowa, meeting with surgeons and other medical professionals, discussing products, and troubleshooting machinery.

“We’re the only medical device company strictly dedicated to women’s health,” Hankins said. “I’m in our GYN division, so I’m working hand-in-hand with gynecologists and selling products for women’s health. It’s been super rewarding. I get to help other women have much healthier and more enjoyable lives after they undergo various procedures.”

She first became interested in medical sales at Butler and expressed this to Lacy School of Business faculty members.

Butler professors like Tom Karbowski offered practical career advice and connected her to pharmaceutical and medical sales representatives.

“I had a lot of resources available to me and professors who encouraged me,” Hankins said. “They helped me pursue my dream to make it a reality.”

As a self-motivated individual, she also reached out to more than a hundred professionals on her own and set up dozens of informative calls.

Additionally, Hankins focused on developing the tools she’d need to excel in sales.

“The master’s management was a hands-on learning experience of what it’s like to be in this business in real life,” she said. “We covered everything from soft skills to selling yourself to picking up on social cues. It was more of a learning experience for me and less about memorization. I credit the degree with my maturity development as a young business professional.”

In some areas, she’s even slightly surprised at the significance in which her Butler coursework has benefited her career.

“I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but so much of my job is problem-solving and the MiM had a class dedicated to problem-solving,” Hankins said. “It might sound cliche, but I’m highly respected because I don’t ask other people to solve my problems. I figured things out myself and attribute much of it to the degree, specifically that class.”

Still early in her career, Hankins is already paying the advice she received forward. She started the mentorship program @MentorMed to help others break into medical sales. She’s seen firsthand the effort it takes to do so and feels her time at Butler set her up for success.

“It was the perfect combination of business courses,” Hankins said. “A lot of my fellow classmates had science or political science degrees. So, the MiM summed up what I wanted from a business management degree.”

MiM alumna Alyssa GarciaAlyssa Garcia dreamt of working in sports growing up, even as others told her such a career was unrealistic.

Initially, she planned on entering the workforce after completing her undergraduate degree, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled her senior softball season. As a result, the NCAA granted her an extra year of eligibility.

She used that to finish her softball career at Butler while pursuing a graduate degree that could appeal to future employers, including those directly supporting professional athletes.

“I also wanted a business-related career, but I was never a finance person,” Garcia said. “That’s why I studied communication as an undergrad, but Butler’s MiM offered a path to pursue a business master’s even though I didn’t excel in math.”

Today, she’s a membership services coordinator in the National Football League Players Association’s Former Player Services Department.

“Once I graduated from the Master’s in Management program, I took the summer to search for a job,” Garcia said. “I interviewed with the NFLPA, and the organization offered me a job. So, I started that September.”

In her role. Garcia assists retired players transitioning to life after football, which includes anyone who’s ever signed an NFL contract—whether their career lasted a day or spanned multiple decades.

It’s her job to serve as a resource while they figure out the next steps in their careers. Garcia connects them to NFLPA career materials and partnering organizations, which gives former players access to educational programs, grant opportunities, and more than 70 discounts.

One of the most important aspects of her job is remaining professional, even if she’s on the phone with a Super Bowl champion or Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.

“At Butler, we did a lot of interview practice in our classes, which also translated over to my career more than I expected,” Garcia said. “I focus on making NFL players feel welcome and giving them what they need.”

She also takes a lead role in managing her department’s social media, creating graphics, and drafting content. These are skills she honed as the School Incubation/Racial Equity Intern with The Mind Trust, an educational non-profit in Indianapolis where Garcia worked in conjunction with her Butler MiM Capstone Experience requirement.

She sometimes felt pressure from balancing her commitments to graduate-level coursework, softball, and The Mind Trust. Still, the Butler MiM virtual cohorts are challenging-yet-manageable for business professionals and student-athletes.

“Our professors worked with me, for instance, if I needed to meet with them outside of office hours or turn in assignments early,” Garcia said. “It gave us a lot of flexibility. We could compartmentalize our days. Once I got into a routine, I really liked it.”

Garcia loved her time at Butler and cannot imagine having used her final year of eligibility anywhere else.

“I’m grateful for my time at Butler, from getting my masters to playing softball,” Garcia said. “I met genuinely good people there who want to help you. I wouldn’t change that experience for the world.”

MiM Alumni Jamilah WatkinsJamilah Watkins desired to progress in her career at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security but realized there were limited avenues for advancement as a young professional.

“I wanted a supervisory role,” Watkins said. “As a young government employee, you often don’t get as many opportunities compared to the people with seniority.”

Her younger brother, Brendan, introduced her to Butler’s Master’s in Management program, which he attended the year prior. After graduation, he excelled and achieved a high-level lead role at a major corporation.

Still, Watkins became interested in the program for more than just the career-advancement opportunities it could provide.

“What drew me to Butler was the fact that my brother had been in the program, and I immediately noticed how valuable Butler’s MiM program was,” Watkins said. “I saw him apply what he learned to his job, and I wanted that same experience. I wanted a degree I could use and implement the knowledge immediately.”

Once enrolled, her virtual cohort exposed her to classmates from various backgrounds. In addition, she gleaned valuable insights and tools from her professors related to marketing, the use of media, leadership, and more.

The MiM program provided an immediate impact at work. With more tools and new-found confidence, Watkins identified a systems error that prevented dozens of potential lawsuits. As a result, she received a Silver pin and Certificate of Appreciation from a USCIS director.

Her MiM coursework also taught her to use innovative business intelligence instruments, fortuitously giving Watkins a head start.

“In class, we worked with Tableau, an innovative software system,” she said. “Then the government recently changed to Tableau for its data visualization software. So now, I’m ahead of the curve and working on huge reports that go to people at headquarters in Washington, DC.”

After earning her MiM, Watkins felt more equipped to take on the supervisory role she desired, so she applied for a higher position within the Department of Homeland Security and received the promotion.

“I’ve started down this new career path,” Watkins said. “I’m an Immigration Services Officer 2, which puts me in a leadership role. I am mentoring others and am considered a subject matter expert, which makes me a go-to person in my department.”

Her MiM has also played an instrumental role in her entrepreneurial venture. She’s the CEO of a Kansas City-based urban design firm Urban Lab KC, which she recently launched with two architectural designers.

“They love having me around because I keep us organized, on task, and focused,” Watkins said. “I am always pushing us toward the future. We’ve even had several conversations with city officials. Our company wants to improve our city, and the only way to improve it is to network and market yourself so that people want to work with you.”

The business is still in its infancy, but Watkins has enjoyed seeing how her MiM has prepared her to spearhead an entrepreneurial venture.

“All my class skills have gone into helping me to become successful and to show decision-makers how Urban Lab KC adds value to our city,” she said, “Butler’s MiM degree provided me with the exceptional benefit of knowledge that exceeds corporate standards, just like it did for my brother.”