The day after Thanksgiving, often referred to as “Black Friday”, is usually reserved for shopping, leftovers and family time. For those on the Michael and Niki Grooms Christmas Card list, it also means receiving the Grooms family Christmas greetings in the mail. They are just that on top of things!
We recently asked Michael to tell us about his experience at Ensign College, internships, networking, and some highlights from his career.
Talk about your experience at Ensign College and what valuable lessons you learned that have been most beneficial to you in your career.
I had a great experience at Ensign College (called LDS Business College when I went there). I made great friendships and enjoyed my time learning and growing. My experience taught me four important lessons that were beneficial to my career:
- Apply learnings to life. My professor, Paul Gardiner, taught accounting and I loved to hear the real-life stories he shared about accounting and how it can make a difference. He helped me to understand how classroom principles apply to life situations. He taught the value of honesty, integrity, and adding value.
- Christ is in the details of our lives. Christ cares about us and cares about the things we care about. Whether it is understanding finance principles like return on investment, or about how to draw a picture using only dots, if it is our desire to understand and improve, God will help us learn and grow.
- Give to others. I met many talented professors and students who took time to teach me and took an interest in my path. I learned that giving and helping others is loving God. God gives us tender mercies and the more I serve others the more I recognize His hand in all things. Giving to others leads to joy.
- God will open a path if we move forward in faith. Often, I wished that God would have directed the path to take when presented with two choices. He did, except that most often He was happy with either choice. I have learned that God wants me to move forward in faith and, if something isn’t right, he blocks the path. Most often, He let me choose.
If you had an internship as part of your undergraduate experience (whether at Ensign College or another institution), talk about any tangible benefits/training you received that equipped you for your first job post-college and for your career.
After attending Ensign College, I transferred to the University of Utah. There, I was able to do an internship with Huntsman Corporation. The work I did was not exciting, but it was necessary. It included following up with all customers to ensure we had a completed sales and use tax form on file. It was important to Huntsman Corporation that everything was done legally and correctly and I learned that the small details matter.
While obtaining my MBA at BYU I did an internship with Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas. I remember in one of my first meetings with the CEO of Walmart International and some of his direct reports that he was drilling into specific cost categories. I was new on the job and was hesitant to speak up. After the meeting he looked at me and said “when you come to these meetings, you need to speak up and add value. If you are going to be silent, you don’t need to be here.” Those were tough words to hear, but they rang true. Since then, I’ve looked for ways to ensure my voice is heard and to add value in meetings.
Knowing what you know today, how would your search for your first post-college job be different? Where would you place networking with others (alumni, family, friends, etc.) in priority for finding a job?
My first job I earned while attending Ensign College came from a posting in the career center. I worked for a local family-owned business and learned key principles such as “Cash is King”, and to enjoy whom you worked with. I also saw how family businesses can be complex when relationships and money collide. I decided then, that if I were to go in business with family or friends, to ensure that expectations were aligned from the beginning and written down.
After MBA school I was offered positions at Walmart, Ford Motor Company, Advanced Micro Devices, Union Pacific and Intel Corporation. I took the job at Intel because I could stay in the West and live in affordable Arizona. My time at Intel ultimately allowed me to live in four states (Arizona, Utah, California, and Oregon) over fifteen years. I developed strong relationships with many colleagues.
My wife and I made a difficult decision to leave a comfortable career at Intel and move back to Utah. It was not an easy decision, but we felt guided to make this decision. I am grateful that I wrote down my thoughts and experience with this decision because it was not easy and many times I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Every time I read my journal I knew, in my heart, it was the right decision.
At the time I sent an email to my broad network telling them I was leaving Intel and moving back to Utah and to keep their eyes open for positions that would fit what I was looking for. One of my former Intel friends was working at a company called Evault in Salt Lake City. She and I connected, and she knew of a great opening at her company. I interviewed with the VP of Operations and received the role. I remember my initial phone interview while on vacation on the Oregon Coast. I also ended up flying to Salt Lake City and interviewing in person.
The role as Sr. Manager of Operations was a great role and allowed me to use my Finance, HR, Chief of Staff and Management skills to help the operations. The VP of Operations and I became close friends and are still in contact today.
Just last week I reached out to an old colleague at Huntsman to reconnect. Life is full of connections. Make sure you take time to connect with others who want to grow also and not just to connect for your own purposes.
Talk about your career. Share an experience that has helped shape you and solidify your values as an employee, and, if applicable, as an employer. Where have you been able to excel in your career and why?
I have worked for some great companies, all of which have been leaders in their respective industries. I have learned that doing the following will lead you on a path for success:
- Show up on time, every day. Being consistent with your work ethic will allow others to trust and lean on you.
- Be positive, it’s contagious. People like to work with happy people. Find ways to look for the good. You can’t control the things that happen around you, but you can control how you respond. I love telling people that I am “fantastic” when they ask me how I’m doing. I always have a reason to find joy in my life every day.
- Roll up your sleeves and go to work. Always be willing to roll up your sleeves and do the dirty work. It may involve finishing an analysis or building out a new project plan. The more you are willing to do the little things the more people will involve you in the big things.
- Look for opportunities to jump in and do something, even if it’s uncomfortable. God will bless you with inspiration to move forward and to find ways to deliver what you’re tasked with. It’s easy to play it safe, but not as much fun or rewarding to dive in and learn something new.
- Treat others with kindness. We all have lots to do and, if we do it with a smile and are kind, then it becomes a joy. Be the person who is known for treating others with kindness and respect. You will develop a reputation and people will want to come work with you and for you.
My career is an evolving journey. From accounting to corporate finance to internal audit to people management to talent advisor to HR Management to Operations to building an FP&A Team and to finally helping sell a company. My journey has been unique because I’ve chosen the path. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been very rewarding. Since the first days of taking classes at Ensign College I knew that God wanted me to succeed and that He was willing to open doors for me to go through if I would move forward in faith.
Any interesting hobbies or stories you’d like to share?
I love to sing. My wife would say I’m always singing (especially in the grocery store, or in places that most people don’t sing).
I love to go hiking and to fish. There is nothing like the feeling of having a fish on the end of your line. I much prefer catching fish to eating fish (I catch and release).
I love to do research on products to help ensure my family and I make good purchases. I’ve been a member of Amazon since 2001.
I enjoy driving. My family and I have taken two cross-country trips. Our last big trip was driving from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and back. I was able to take an 11-week sabbatical from Intel to see the country with my family. Oh, what an experience!