Assistant Professor of Business Nate Klein ’07 grew up just a few miles from Mount Mercy in Shueyville, Iowa. As he graduated from high school, he had big plans to attend a state university in Iowa.


The Power of Pushing the Limits

In Focus
Business
By Leah Grout Garris

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ncouraged by Amir Hadzic, Mount Mercy soccer head coach, Nate Klein ’07 decided (without visiting campus) to attend Mount Mercy instead of a big university as planned. The promise of a continued soccer career sealed the deal.

Once on campus, Klein knew he made the right choice. “I absolutely fell in love with the campus,” says Klein. “As a result, I became more involved in college than I ever was in high school.” In addition to playing soccer, he participated in student government, was class president, and served as president of Enactus (known then as SIFE—a community of students and academic/business leaders committed to using entrepreneurial action to transform lives).

Tom Castle, Mount Mercy associate provost—and Enactus advisor during Klein’s college years, showed Klein that he could use his business experience to give back to the world. “Through his mentorship, Tom got me excited about how, down the road, I could impact students’ lives like he and others did,” says Klein. “Enactus has a saying: ‘A head for business, a heart for the world.’ That resonated with me.”

While at an Enactus National Expo in 2007, he connected with Aflac; just a few days after graduation, Klein received a job offer. He relocated to Columbus, Georgia, and spent seven years progressing through the ranks, starting as an analyst and leaving as a senior manager in the company’s South Carolina location. Simultaneously, he earned his MBA at Emory University.

After completing his doctorate degree at Creighton University, he and his wife, Jenny, decided they were ready to return to Iowa. “I had just finished my dissertation and reached out to my Mount Mercy mentors to learn about job possibilities,” he says.

Castle learned that a business professor had just resigned, and he wanted Klein to be considered for the position. Three weeks before classes, Klein stepped on campus as an assistant professor of business.

Klein now serves as the Enactus club faculty advisor, helping students prepare for Enactus regional and national competitions. In his first year as advisor, the Mount Mercy team fell just outside the top 100 out of more than 450 U.S. teams. The following year, they finished in the top 12—the best they’d ever done.

Last year, the team’s incredible work with #Sandbags2Handbags and Market at the Mount landed them in the final four, giving students like Derek Siddell ’18 the opportunity to present their entrepreneurial ideas to 1,500 peers and 60 C-suite executives.

“I needed to find my purpose at Mount Mercy, and I found it through Enactus,” says Siddell. “The experience has been life changing. Anything I’ve learned as a business student—I guarantee I’ve applied it to helping local businesses,” he says. This past year, he and the team worked with Crazy Good Meats, improving company logistics—including the creation of a routing system that saves time when delivering products to retail locations.

“I don’t know where to start when it comes to how Nate has inspired and influenced my work,” says Siddell. “He helps me push my limits in everything I do.”

Although Klein has been on the faculty at Mount Mercy for three short years, he is already being recognized for his influence. This year, he was selected as the first recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award (named after Sister Mary Wilma Wolf) by students, faculty, and staff for living the values of the Sisters and making a positive impact.

Nate and Jenny Klein returned from Ethiopia on Nov. 5 with their daughter Ellary—completing their second adoption,
three years in the making.

“I always tell students: ‘If you keep your goals to yourself, then only you know about them,’” says Klein. “‘But if you share them with other people, then they can be in your corner.’” Which is exactly how Klein recently became Mount Mercy’s interim dean of students.

“They knew what my interests and goals were, so they asked if I’d be interested,” he says. “I know this is an opportunity to make an impact on a greater number of students. To see that someone like me from a small town can have a big impact is a pretty humbling experience. This is the place I’ll retire from.” ■

New Program
MBA now offered online

Dedicated to meeting the needs of working professionals, Mount Mercy launched a fully online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in August 2017.

Classes—offered in 5- and 10-week sessions—are asynchronous, so students aren’t required to log in at a certain day or time; however, weekly deadlines keep them engaged and on track. Typical coursework includes interacting online with classmates and the instructor through discussion forums, live video chat, and phone conferencing.

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