Jeff McElroy, MBA, believes in his students, ultimately inspiring them to pursue a career that eventually leads them to entrepreneurship.
Jeff McElroy, MBA, Associate Professor of Business Administration for Graceland University’s C.H. Sandage School of Business, did not come by teaching the conventional way. After graduating from Graceland with a double major in business administration and economics, he spent over 20 years in the corporate world serving Maytag Corporation, Dexter Laundry Inc. and Pella Corporation’s management teams; each during a time of significant growth. Jeff was able to experience business from the ground up and brings real-world knowledge to his classrooms.
At Maytag, in his early 30s, Jeff was involved in setting up an entire new division. He learned valuable lessons about business, working together as a team toward goals and successful training methods to sculpt productive and happy employees. He continued sharpening his business skills at Dexter in Fairfield, Iowa, where computers were just becoming an important asset for day-to-day operations. Jeff wrote Dexter’s first forecasting program for the manufacturing plant using the earliest version of Excel, which had to be backed up on an external tape drive due to the size of the file and limited capabilities of computers. “I am dating myself,” says Jeff, as he tells the story.
After 10 years at Pella Corporation in Pella, Iowa, a position in the business department at Graceland became available on the Lamoni, Iowa, campus in 2008. With training at his previous places of employment being a primary responsibility, and one that he enjoyed, Jeff made the leap to academia.
Teaching students real-world business processes and coordinating internships and jobs as they finish their college career are Jeff’s favorite parts of his job. He affirms, “Graceland provides a solid foundation for students to find jobs. It really makes my day when students stick their head in my office full of excitement because they have found a job waiting for them upon graduation, and that’s what it’s all about. For me, that’s fun.”
Jeff has garnered the title of Sam Walton Fellow awarded by ENACTUS for outstanding contributions to the ENACTUS students on campus and help with career placement. Each year, Principal Group, a Fortune 500 company out of Des Moines, comes to Graceland’s Lamoni campus and evaluates teams in Jeff’s Social Media Marketing class. One team is picked to compete in the annual Principal Voice of the Young Consumer Business Challenge against several large universities held at Principal’s headquarters. This year, Graceland placed third overall, and each team member received a personal email from Principal’s management congratulating them for presenting such unique ideas. Jeff’s Operations Management class visits Vermeer in Pella and Casey’s General Store headquarters in Ankeny to tour their manufacturing plant and warehouse to see how their products are made and distributed, and his Sports Marketing class partners with the Iowa Energy basketball team to develop a marketing plan.
When a student observes the textbook they used in Jeff’s class on their VP’s desk, or is able to explain to all the other new graduates hired what a Kaizen is their first day on the job, Jeff knows he has prepared his students for a successful future.
Jeff is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education in Leadership through Drake University. Coming into the degree program with a full-time job and a business vs education background definitely left him with some catching up to do, but his dedication to his students has never wavered. Jeff has completed his classes and is on track to complete his dissertation in 2017.
“IT HAS BEEN EIGHT YEARS SINCE I GRADUATED FROM GRACELAND, AND I STILL LEVERAGE THE SKILLS AND COURSE CURRICULUM TAUGHT BY PROFESSOR MCELROY. HE IS AN EXCEPTIONAL BUSINESS MENTOR AND EDUCATOR.”
~ Terra Paialii-Whipple `09