Southeast Graduates to Discuss Their Career Paths at @Lumni Monday


Photo of Mike Pobst

Mike Pobst, a 1977 graduate and president of Alliance Bank of Sikeston, gives a presentation to students at Southeast Missouri State University.


April 13, 2006 – Fifteen graduates of Southeast Missouri State University will return to campus to discuss their career paths with current students in an event billed as @lumni Monday April 17 on the Southeast campus.

@lumni Monday is a new component of the Alumni Association’s program to strengthen the Southeast community by providing students opportunities to learn from and network with successful Southeast graduates. The returning Southeast graduates will hold lectures and discussions on campus with students about the direction their careers have taken them. Some classes also will be open to community members and alumni wishing to attend.

Graduates from a variety of disciplines will be speaking in classes across the campus. Meanwhile, the Harrison College of Business will hold an Executive Forum in which two St. Louis area business executives will speak. Panelists will be Linda Decker, a 1987 Southeast graduate and now broadcast advocate manager with Famous Barr Division of May Department Stores, and Barry Cooper, a 1981 Southeast graduate and now chief financial officer of Laclede Gas Company. Moderating the forum will be Rex Rust, co-president of Rust Communications. The forum is scheduled for noon to 1:15 p.m. in Glenn Auditorium of Dempster Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Other alumni returning to speak in classes throughout the day will be Jim Sturm, a 1975 graduate and teacher with Wydown Middle School in the Clayton School District; Russell Grammer, a 1998 alumnus and teacher with Cape Girardeau Public Schools; Ann Mirgeaux, a 1979 graduate and owner of Interim Health Care; Joan Gohn, a 1969 graduate and retired speech pathologist; Shawn Grindstaff, a 1989 alumnus and environmental protection attorney; Anne Bowman, a 2002 graduate and software engineer with The Boeing Company; Paul Albers, a 2001 alumnus and an engineer/scientist level 3 with The Boeing Company; Dr. L. Taylor Bahn, a 1973 graduate and dentist; Dr. Harold Hager, a 1954 graduate and retired mathematics professor at Southeast Missouri State; Tara (Toellner) Griggs, a 2004 graduate and residence hall director at Southeast Missouri State University; Mike Pobst, a 1977 graduate and president of Alliance Bank of Sikeston, Mo.; Kent Puchbauer, a 1975 alumnus and market manager with Montgomery Bank in Jackson, Mo.; and Tim Simmers, a 1982 graduate and director of operations with Spartech Polycom.

The speakers at the noon Executive Forum have both had distinguished professional careers. 

Linda DeckerDecker began her career at Famous-Barr Co. in 1987 as a store staffing manager.  In 1990, she moved to the advertising department as direct mail coordinator. In 1993, she became special events coordinator for 30 stores.  After leaving the company in 1995 for a marketing manager position with SBC, she returned to Famous-Barr in 1996 as the broadcast manager.  She was an active team member of the May Co. media agency review committee in 2000.  She was then promoted to director of Corporate Broadcast Media for May Co., where she managed broadcast media planning and buying strategies for event and brand for seven divisions.  She is currently in the media role for Federated Dept. Stores, managing the May Co. integration process for Macy’s. In June of this year, Decker will begin her new role with Macy’s Midwest as divisional vice president of PR/events marketing.

Barry CooperCooper, who also will be a featured panelist at the Executive Forum, joined The Laclede Group as chief financial officer in September 2002. Based in St. Louis, The Laclede Group is the parent organization of Laclede Gas Company, a regulated core utility and a non-regulated component consisting primarily of two key wholly owned subsidiaries: SM&P Utility Resources, one of the nation’s major underground facilities locating and marking service businesses; and Laclede Energy Resources, a gas marketing and management service.

A native of St. Louis, Cooper, 46, is responsible for all financial functions at The Laclede Group and Laclede Gas Company, including internal and external financial reporting, investor relations, treasury, risk management, information systems and information security.

Prior to coming to Laclede, Cooper spent seven years with GenAmerica Corporation in St. Louis, a Fortune 500 provider of life and health insurance. He joined GenAmerica in 1995 as second vice president and associate controller. In 1999, he was named vice president and controller, and, one year later, was promoted to vice president of finance.

In addition to his traditional duties at GenAmerica, he led the post-merger integration team of corporate financial and administrative functions following the acquisition of the company by MetLife in January 2000. Before joining GenAmerica, Cooper spent 14 years at KPMG Peat Marwick LLP in St. Louis, serving a variety of publicly and privately held clients.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Southeast and an MBA from Northwestern University in 1998. He is a Certified Public Accountant.