New career path proves to be right choice for Kevin Foht '10 after named "30 under 35" business professional

KEVIN FOHT ’10 | BS Business

Kevin Foht ’10 was able to switch careers because of MMU’s flexible course schedule. Based off of nominations from his coworkers, Foht was named a “30 under 35” business professional for his achievements as inventory manager—proving the switch was worth it. Kevin Foht '10

MMU: Tell me about your journey to MMU—how did you know it was the school for you?

KF: In my first profession, I was a respiratory therapist. Although I really enjoyed it, being an RRT did not provide the work-life balance I wanted for my family. So, when I decided to pursue another career path and go back to college, I needed to find one that would be flexible for a working adult. After doing some research, I found that Kirkwood and Mount Mercy partnered in the Advance program (now called the adult accelerated program) for non-traditional students. After reading about the Advance program as well as the business and finance offerings, I knew that Mount Mercy was going to be the perfect fit.

MMU: How did MMU’s Advance program help shape the professional you are today?

KF: Mount Mercy gave me the confidence and tools to take on new things and instilled a drive to want to continue learning every day. The best part of being in the Advance program was the fact that the teachers and the students were all working professionals. This allowed for fun and interesting classroom dialogue. It has helped me to see the importance of teamwork and being open to other ideas in the workplace.

MMU: How did you decide on Van Meter? Were there other students, faculty, staff, or mentors that helped you make this decision? What did you like about the company?

KF: In one of my finance classes we had to do a group project. I ended up being paired with someone who worked at Van Meter. When the project was over, he told me he was the sales support manager and they were looking for a national accounts pricing analyst. After a few more conversations and a little research I was excited to start my next career at a great place like Van Meter!

Van Meter is 100% employee owned, and they have a culture that allows for a great work-life balance. They have been in the area for over 90 years and are focused on growing the company to continue to provide a great ESOP benefit to all who work there. Van Meter is committed to giving back, and all employee-owners are encouraged to be active in the communities where they work and live. I’m given learning and development opportunities to be my personal best and I enjoy the shared commitment to progress—we work to improve ourselves and our company every day. These are just a few of the reasons I wanted to join the Van Meter family.

MMU: Could you talk a bit about your career, what you do, and how it has progressed since you graduated from Mount Mercy?

KF: As I was finishing up school at Mount Mercy I was working as the purchasing coordinator for Kirkwood Community College. Once I graduated, I took a role at Van Meter Inc. as the national accounts pricing analyst. The great thing about working at Van Meter is that you have the opportunity to work on many other projects outside of your role.

Doing this allowed me to expand my knowledge of distribution and transition into a new role as the inventory manager. I continued to take on more, and eventually I transitioned into my current position as operations manager. Going to Mount Mercy allowed me the opportunity to get my foot in the door with a great company that has given me a foundation to grow and continue to expand my knowledge outside of school.

MMU: Congratulations on being named a “30 under 35” professional by tED magazine and the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED)!  How did it feel to be named “30 Under 35”?

KF: I was named for this award in 2016 and it caught me completely off guard. My coworkers nominated me for my achievements in my role as inventory manager. I was honored and humbled to be recognized alongside such a successful group of professionals. In your normal day-to-day work, winning awards is not something you think about. That is what made it so special when I found out about the recognition.

MMU: Has the award impacted your career?

KF: Winning this award allowed me the opportunity to build more relationships within the field of distribution. Being a part of the NAED meetings and listening to all of the other award winners and what they have accomplished was an amazing experience. It definitely drives you to want to learn from others and push yourself to continue to be progressive in your role. Van Meter focuses on 5 P’s as a company: people, partner, progress, place, and profit. Winning this award meant to me, that I was successful in the “progress” p. I was making positive change to processes that impacted the company and improved our inventory position.

MMU: You coach various youth teams—what drives you to be involved in your community?

KF: I coach multiple youth sports for a few reasons. The first is that it is a good way to spend time with my children. The second is that it helps me to stay connected with my community. Third, I really enjoy helping others learn and grow. There is nothing more rewarding then working with a child on something and then see them succeed. Lastly, Seeing the kids have fun and create new friendships is the most important. I definitely had that same feeling while I was at Mount Mercy. Everyone there was very helpful and willing to take the extra time to make sure you were successful.

MMU: Do have any advice for students that might feel pigeon-holed into one career because of their major?

KF: My advice would be for them to always keep their options open. Employers are not concerned with what your degree is in. Instead, they want to know that you can learn and adapt to new challenges. Find a way to communicate your real-life experiences and how you can use them to help a company grow. Another big factor employers are looking for is a strong culture fit. This is important in building a strong team that can work towards common goals. If you want to completely switch fields, you can always go back to Mount Mercy and get another degree!

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