For many alumni, a return visit to UNL may not come until many years later depending on life circumstances after graduation. For Doug Fernaays, a management graduate from the class of 2011, the return trip has already happened. Fernaays’ excellence both at the College of Business Administration and in his new job at Accenture, the largest business consulting firm in the world, led him back to UNL recently to speak to current business students about their future opportunities.
Fernaays was asked to speak in Dr. Colleen Jones’ organizational behavior class to give students a better idea of how to take full advantage of what CBA offers. Fernaays may have been the perfect candidate to speak given his involvement in student activities while earning his undergraduate degree.
“Doug was a student who always looked for the application of the theories we covered in class,” Jones said. “He had a curiosity about how real life represented what theory described. I found Doug to be curious and innovative in how he would connect his experiences in his student activities to class projects and discussions.”
One of the biggest impacts on Fernaays was the time he spent in Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). He encourages students to take advantage of organizations like SIFE.
“Because of SIFE I was able to get my first internship,” Fernaays said. “We went to a competition for SIFE in Philadelphia and the ConAgra recruiters were there. Since they knew we were from Nebraska they gave me an interview.”
SIFE, which is part of the Nebraska Center for Entrepreneurship at CBA, also helped Fernaays develop other connections.
“I got plugged into different professional organizations in Lincoln and Omaha which gave me a lot of leadership skills,” Fernaays said. “Those organizations were good for helping me get in touch with people here in Nebraska, but SIFE also helped me to network worldwide.”
Other learning experiences Other learning experiences Fernaays had beyond the classroom included working at CBA’s Daily Drip coffee shop, and also guiding a group of students that help the town of Ogallala develop assets which could be tied into community growth.
“Without SIFE that’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do in terms of leading a group of students to work on that project.”
Fernaays received a job offer from Accenture, an international company with offices around the world, two months prior to graduating in the spring. He currently works out of their Minneapolis office and travels frequently throughout the country.
“I currently travel to Little Rock, Ark. every week, working with a utilities company on something called congestion hedging. It’s a project that involves helping energy not get congested when traveling between power plants.”
Fernaays has always had an interest in business tech solutions. He studied computer science along with business at UNL, and had a particular interest in cloud computing.
“Professors here at CBA are willing to work with students and even develop relationships with students with their research. That’s how I first came to understand cloud computing.”
According to Dr. Jones, Fernaays’ vision and hard work have been the key to his current success.
“Probably the most salient nugget of wisdom that Doug told our students was that even though Accenture did not recruit at Nebraska, he made contacts in his extracurricular networks that he was able to utilize to seek out an employment opportunity,” Jones said. “His proactive use of educational skills, his personal career objective and interpersonal savvy led him to the opportunity he’s living now.”
Fernaays, who originally came to UNL from Puyallup, Wash., eventually plans on going to graduate school. For now, he’s letting the excitement of his new professional life and the frequent travel he’s afforded, take him wherever the next destination leads.