North Central College - Naperville, IL

Meet M.B.A. Students

Jim McDermet

Jim McDermet M ’92
Senior Vice President and General Manager
Seattle's Best Coffee, Starbucks Corporation

McDermet earned his M.B.A. at North Central College while working as a regional vice president for Burger King in the Chicago area. “I chose North Central College for its track in leadership in the management of change,” he says. “The only constant in life is change. You always have the opportunity to re-invent yourself and blaze a new trail.”

He started his career frying french fries at Burger King and over a period of 24 years, progressed to a corporate position at the Miami headquarters. He left Burger King to open a small chain of coffee shops in the Miami area, satisfying what he says was an “itch” to become an entrepreneur and attributes it to one of his professors at North Central.

His business called Java Centrale ultimately led to a position as regional director at Starbucks in Seattle. Since joining the company in 2000, his rapid ascent through the management ranks at Starbucks is due to his focus on sales, customer and employee satisfaction and, of course, knowing how to manage change.
Joseph Gaza

Joseph Gaza
Master's of Business Administration

"I fully expect my M.B.A. degree to accelerate my professional growth into the future." As a Director of Baseball Operations, Sports Management for The Warner Companies in Chicago, Joseph Gaza sees the growth and potential in his position. He currently developes the Company's overall business strategy, helping to execute the day-to-day operations of the firm, as well as working with the rest of The Sports Management Team to advance The Warner Companies long-term business objectives. For his thesis project he applied the business knowledge obtained from North Central’s M.B.A. program to the sport management industry to more effectively serve professional athletes. "I chose to evaluate the field from all business angles including marketing, finance, management, ethics and statistics. I focused on the new collective bargaining agreement between the Major League Baseball (MLB) players and owners approaching in 2011 and what issues will be most prevalent in the negotiations. The program has made me an expert in marketing strategy and has increased my credibility better while serving my clients."

Kara McKeighan
Master's of Business Administration

Kara, an inventory planning associate at Navistar, chose North Central and the M.B.A. program for several reasons. She liked the flexibility the program offered. “I’m able to take classes at my own pace and even take a term off if I need to.” In addition, Kara liked the convenient downtown Naperville location, which is close to Navistar. “Also, as I learned from my undergraduate studies at North Central, each professor offers a very unique and personalized application of the topics discussed. Because of the smaller class sizes, I really got to know my professors and built long- term relationships with them and my classmates. I feel I learned a lot more than just what was in the textbook.”