Behind the Scenes: Meet the Alumni Board Executive Committee
The Crummer Alumni Board is dedicated to fostering a lasting bond between the Crummer School and its graduates. This is achieved through the provision of valuable opportunities, events, and programs designed to benefit alumni. The board organizes a comprehensive array of activities, including seminars for continuing education, forums on career management, and various social and networking events, maintaining a full schedule to engage and support alumni.
We are happy to share the newest members of the Alumni Board Executive Committee:
- Austin Montgomery ‘17MBA: Alumni Board President
- Garrett Feehrer ‘18MBA: Vice President
- Natalie Schmook ‘06MBA: Vice President
- Michael Wallace ‘19MBA: Vice President
The new executive committee members took some time to answer a little about themselves and their vision for their new roles.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Austin Montgomery: My name is Austin Montgomery, and I have the privilege of serving as the current president of the Crummer Alumni Board of Directors. I attended the Professional MBA program (now known as Flex MBA) in the evenings while working at Universal Parks and Resorts and graduated in 2017 with the PMBA 53 cohort. I’ve worked at Salesforce for the past three years helping customers accelerate their digital transformations, and I currently work in a strategy and operations role within our Customer Success team.
My wife, Julie (’18MBA), and I moved to Atlanta for work after graduating and now live in Smyrna, GA with our two-year-old son, Atlas, and our Westie, Bella. Julie and I enjoy cooking new dishes, running half marathons, and exploring the world through coffee and wine.
Garrett Feehrer: I have lived in the Orlando area since 2002. I earned my undergraduate degree from UCF and received my MBA from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College as part of the PMBA 55 cohort. I am the market development manager at Armacell, working throughout the Southeast to advance Armacell’s position within the region. My experience at Crummer has served me very well during my career. I can even remember thinking, “my company does that” when we would review case studies throughout the program. I was raised in South Florida, and several of my family members still live there. My time when not working is usually spent with my wife and our three daughters.
Michael Wallace: My name is Michael Wallace, and I am a 2019 graduate of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College. I was born and spent the first 25 years of my life in Upstate New York. However, the combination of employment opportunities with The Walt Disney Company and graduate school led me to relocate to Florida. During my MBA program, I cofounded “Crummer Speaks: Every Leader Has a Story,” a signature speaker series designed to facilitate storytelling of executive leaders with current students, and completed business projects in Germany, France, Mexico, and the Czech Republic. Upon graduation, I had the honor of being selected as the SunTrust Distinguished Leader of Merit.
I began my professional journey with Disney in 2015 and have served within the Parks, Experiences, and Products Business Segment at multiple resort hotel, theme park, and backstage locations as an hourly cast member and as a salaried leader. Currently, I serve within the Resorts Quality Operations Systems team as an operations measurement manager supporting the Lodging, Transportation, and Premium Services lines of business at the Walt Disney World Resort. In this specialized role, I work with our executive leaders and front-line operations as a subject matter expert on the guest experience. Beyond Disney, during the challenging year of 2020-2021, I joined Amazon and assisted in the launch of the first co-located sortation and fulfillment center in Central Florida. By improving core safety, quality, and productivity metrics, we were recognized as the number one location in North America with the coveted “Iron Smile Award” for delivering a passion for strategic innovation, committing to operational excellence, and demonstrating customer obsession.
Natalie Schmook: I started out doing the three-two program at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, finishing my MBA in ’06. I then met my husband and moved to Atlanta, where I spent 10 years working for SunTrust Wealth Management, managing 1.2 billion dollars’ worth of assets. I then opened up a Lucille Roberts women’s gym for the next three-and-a-half years. I am currently the owner of Hayes Wealth Advisors, a financial planning and investment management company that works mostly with optometric clients. I still live in Atlanta with my two beautiful daughters, and I enjoy playing tennis.
Why did you decide to lend your time and talents to the alumni board?
Austin: I first got involved with the alumni board in 2015 as a student liaison representing the PMBA program and quickly realized this was a volunteer opportunity I wanted to invest time in. I received some great advice from a Crummer professor who said to focus on putting energy into things that give you energy back. My experience on the alumni board embodies that principle. I continue to enjoy serving on the board because the school has given me so much, and our work makes a tangible impact.
Garrett: Crummer is a major part of my life and community. My wife and I both graduated from Crummer, and we live in Winter Park. It is a natural fit for us to want to boost up Crummer every way we can. With that, I know what kind of impact Crummer had on our lives, and I expect that for anyone who is a part of the Crummer family. Also, I was involved with the alumni board as a student representative when I attended Crummer. That was my first exposure to the influence our active board can have.
Michael: I am forever grateful for the experiences I had during my time at Crummer. The close connections built among students, faculty, and community partners enables each Crummer graduate, through a personal concierge approach, to reach their fullest potential. Specifically, I recall the conversations I had with my mentor, Leigh Anne Nieman ’07MBA, director of member experiences at Disney Vacation Club, who I met through Crummer, as pivotal moments in my development as a leader. Thus, I attribute my career trajectory of leading within world-renowned companies, including Amazon and Disney, to the skills I learned and refined at Crummer. Every day, something I learned during my MBA is top of mind. Thus, in joining the alumni board, I am honored to continue to play a role in the Crummer experience by paying it forward to strengthen our community partnerships and build upon our legacy of developing innovative, responsible, and global business leaders.
As a working board, I am very proud to work alongside such an esteemed group of colleagues across diverse businesses, sectors, and regions of the United States.
Natalie: I wanted to find more ways to be involved with Crummer. I have done the mentor program several times as well as the Crummer Venture Plan Competition. Being on the alumni board seemed the natural next step. Being in Atlanta, I noticed the options for nonlocal alumni to get involved seemed a bit sparse, and I want to have an impact on getting a broader reach within the alumni base.
What are your main goals for the alumni board this year?
Austin: With the leadership of the new dean, Anil Menon, it’s a particularly exciting time for Crummer, and by extension, the alumni community. Many alumni may have seen the new tagline he introduced: Proud Tradition. Bright Future. I hope they interpret this as a strong emphasis on engaging with and preserving the proud traditions of our alumni community. Our board has been working closely with Dean Menon to help him develop a deep understanding of our alumni community and partnering with Alumni Relations to develop strategies to take our alumni engagement to the next level. I think if we’re doing our job well, we’re continuing to honor our proud traditions and are creating a bright future for the next generation of Crummer graduates.
Garrett: There have been many changes at Crummer over the last few years. Our goal is always to engage with our great alumni base. The way we engage is certainly changing, and that drives many of our actions this year. I would say the implementation of the strategic pillars and alignment with Dean Menon’s vision is our major focus.
Michael: I would answer that question in two parts. First, this year represents the first term under our new organizational structure, which is now uniform across all Rollins Alumni Boards. As such, Rollins (undergraduate), Hamilton Holt (evening), and Crummer (business) now function in similar capacities based upon their respective constituencies. This new format is an incredible win as we aim to combine resources on specialized projects for the maximum benefit of current students and the alumni community. As we develop and grow within this new structure, I look forward to the collaborative work that will be accomplished across multiple alumni boards. Second, as the Crummer Alumni Board, we have the unique opportunity to work directly with our new dean on his priorities and initiatives. Since joining Crummer in August 2023, the board has been engaged in several quality conversations regarding the opportunities that exist within our Centers of Excellence and the professional development of our alumni population through the lens of continuing education. I look forward to seeing these ideas come to fruition so we can continue to maximize the Crummer experience beyond graduation and be engaged lifelong learners.
Natalie: This is going to be a year of change for us. I want us to have a better understanding of what Crummer can be doing to meet the needs and wants of the alumni base. As I mentioned previously, I think we can do a better job of reaching nonlocal alums and provide meaningful connections.
What is a challenge you anticipate you will have to overcome?
Austin: I believe the competition for attention and time has never been more intense. People often have competing priorities and are making tradeoff decisions about how to spend their precious time. When we’re planning alumni programs and events, I always think about the challenge of how we can break through the noise and provide our alumni with opportunities that will be truly worthwhile for them. Our wonderful alumni events are a great example of when the strength of our alumni community shines through with the many continuing education seminars, career management forums, and social and networking opportunities we have throughout the year.
Garrett: The Crummer experience used to be similar for all our alumni, and that facilitated a certain way of engaging with our alums. We want to bring that same level of connection to Crummer alumni no matter when they attended or how they attend in the future. Regardless of the challenges, we are excited for 2024.
Michael: Despite the total size of Rollins College, we have the opportunity to increase understanding and break down barriers that have existed across the undergraduate, evening, and graduate business schools over the years—extending to the alumni boards. Prior to the start of this term, each alumni board acted as an individual entity, and thus several important initiatives and/or events became either duplicative or unintentionally competed with each other. Going forward, we will have the opportunity to work more directly with our alumni board peers as part of our new organizational structure. Thus, I am very optimistic that our college administration and each alumni board will build upon our respective individual contributions to promote synergy and cross-functional collaboration. As with any change, the alignment of objectives in relationship to shared goals and the ability to positively build relationships through trust are the keys to success. Given the deep bench of talent that exists on all alumni boards, I am looking forward to this work!
Natalie: The biggest challenge we need to overcome is to look outside the box more. We should be looking forward, not necessarily back. This is a mindset shift from what was done before. I also really enjoy how things are very social and network-focused, but I’d also like to see more opportunities for growth and professional development. We should find a balance between those.
To connect with alumni, consider attending one of the various alumni events held throughout the year. For more information, please visit the Crummer Alumni events page.