Southeast Missouri State University graduating senior Chris Gibbons has parlayed the knowledge and skills he’s gained in the classroom and the confidence that student organizations and practicum experiences have given him into his first job as a procurement agent with Boeing, where he soon plans to launch a carefully planned business career.
Gibbons, of Pacific, Missouri, will graduate from Southeast May 11 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in finance. He is looking forward to launching his career at the global aerospace giant in St. Louis, Missouri, later this spring.
“As a procurement agent at Boeing, I will be responsible for establishing proper price points of contracts, and then negotiating the contracts on weapon systems,” he said. “The thing I look forward to most is the ability to learn from the best and brightest. Boeing has one of the best training programs in the country, which makes it an excellent place to jumpstart my career.”
The opportunity to work for the one of the world’s manufacturer of commercial jetliners, defense, space and security systems began for Gibbons as a conversation with Dr. James Caldwell, associate professor of management and director of graduate business studies in the Harrison College of Business and Computing, about his professional future.
Caldwell’s advice and interest in his success changed his career path.
“Dr. Caldwell sat me down one day when I visited him in his office to talk about getting a job in the investment banking field. He told me that, given my interests, I would be miserable doing that job and I should check out Boeing,” he said. “He hooked me up with an externship, which I then networked through. It is the best advice any teacher has given me to this day.”
In the spring of 2018, Gibbons visited Boeing as part of an Externship Day experience. The visit provided him exposure to a large manufacturing setting, insights into Boeing’s work environment and culture, and the opportunity to develop mentoring relationships with Southeast alumni employed by Boeing.
That day provided him the opportunity to see how his degree might translate into the industry, and what a future with Boeing could look like.
“We find the best of our best to participate in the externship experience, and Chris is the perfect fit for Boeing,” Caldwell said.
Additionally, Caldwell selected Gibbons to lead a team of student consultants as part of a semester class this spring on business strategy, analyzing a real-world company. Gibbons’ team examined Boeing, and after identifying and reviewing the company’s economic standing, strengths and weaknesses, made future strategic recommendations.
Based on Gibbons’ performance as a team leader and accomplishments throughout his time at Southeast, Caldwell isn’t surprised by the student’s success.
“He’s very inquisitive, detail-oriented and an excellent leader,” Caldwell said. “He realizes that the textbook is just the beginning of a journey. He asks critical questions and thinks about how to apply what he’s learned to the real world.”
His experiences in and out of the classroom, including being a member of Southeast’s Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, the Finance and Economic Club and International Business Club, have also prepared him for success after graduation, Gibbons said.
“Southeast has taught me to be resourceful and efficient. This is something I like most about Southeast. Our students are engrained with perseverance,” he said.
The University provided him the support and opportunities he values for his personal and professional future.
“You can either hustle for four years while in college or spend the rest of your life hustling because you made poor decisions,” he said. “There are unbelievable amounts of value to be found in networking or going to the club meeting, volunteering event or social event.”
Crossing the stage with 1,401 other spring graduates at Southeast May 11 is the just the beginning for Gibbons who says he has no plans on slowing down any time soon.
“I’ve been planning this moment for four years, and I’m ready to hit the ground running and to take the next step,” Gibbons said. “I want to also invest in real estate and for that business plan to be fully autonomous within 10 years. I would like to be doing mergers and acquisitions for Boeing within six years; start a hedge fund by the time I turn 35; and be considering retirement when I’m 45.”