Eccles Alumni Spotlight
Alumni Profile: Dave Decker (BA’03, MBA’05)
After close to six years of serving on the University of Utah Business Alumni Association (UUBAA) – ConnectU committee as a member and as committee chair, a generous supporter of the School, and longtime Utah sports fan, we are happy to announce David Decker (BA’03, MBA’05) as new co-chair of the University of Utah Business Alumni Association beginning January 2017. We’re excited to partner him with Chair Zack Clark (MBA’05) to grow the Eccles School alumni network.
As advice to current students, Decker urges them to take time for introspection as they look at potential careers.
“Challenge who you are. When do you find yourself the happiest?” Decker says. “These are the questions that should guide your career search. Find a career that incorporates as many of the things you are passionate about and success will follow.”
“Do what you love to do. Don’t just aim for a title, company or position,” Decker shares. “Take what you are passionate about and you’ll find multiple industries and positions which will allow you to do what you do best.”
While earning his undergraduate and master’s degrees he worked fulltime as a financial advisor at National Life of Vermont. Although the opportunities were great and took advantage of his finance degree, he realized his passion was not in selling financial and tax planning, but loved building simple ways to communicate difficult problems and searching for the best way to model and simplify financial questions. Through the MBA program he found a passion in operations optimization statistics and supply chain management, pointing him in another direction.
Decker encourages students not to be so concerned on landing the perfect first job. He says he often sees students myopically eager to get the perfect job after graduation, but end up missing opportunities. He encouraged, “Don’t worry so much about what you will eventually do for a career as much as what you love to do. Chase those classes and experiences that will help build those ‘muscles’ and see what happens. The experiences you have in each class, project, internship, and job will shape your vision of what you want to make a career.”
Decker joined Extra Space Storage in early 2004 as a smaller company with less than 100 storage locations nationally. When he took his first job as an operational analyst at Extra Space Storage, he found he could put his passions to work finding ways to improve productivity, help the company become more efficient, and save the company money. He gets excited about researching and asking how things can be done differently to make improvements and then selling those ideas to the executive team.
Through his 13 years with the same company, Decker has been able to test himself and grow skills through positions as Operations Analyst, Revenue Manager, District Manager, and Director of Operations Coordination to his current role as Senior Director of Operations, and has watched his company grow to over 1,400 locations and 3,000+ employees across the country. Decker says, “Sometimes you can get lost in those first positions at large companies. They often can give you more opportunities to move around and try different positions. However with a little more risk and possibly higher return, smaller companies can offer potential to be in key roles that will grow as the company grows.”
Decker adamantly believes that a key to career success is building your professional connections.
“The networks I’ve been a part of, the opportunities these have given me, and the doors that have been opened because of the relationships I built with my class, mentors and professors through the MBA program have been invaluable,” he said.
He points to his first mentor, Rick Jenson (BS’75) for connecting him to his first job at Extra Space Storage. Jenson, Partner at Tanner LLC, knew the VP of Accounting at Extra Space and made the introduction which launched Decker’s career. Decker says he hasn’t stopped making those connections either. As an active member of the UUBAA board, and now a mentor himself to current MBA students each year he says, “Helping students has helped me professionally. I’ve invested in student start-ups, hired students and grown my network with the newest and brightest young professionals that are graduating each year.”
“As alumni, our degrees become more valuable as we give back to students through mentoring, sharing ideas, teaching classes, and building the Eccles School alumni network,” Decker said. It’s no wonder he passionately encourages fellow alumni to get involved with the UUBAA network.
Join us in welcoming David Decker as the Co-Chair of UUBAA and watch for networking events, leadership speakers and more that you can participate or join in as a fellow alum.
Guitarist. CEO. Industry Leader. These are just a few of the titles that describe Eccles alumnus and donor Chris Aadnesen.
While attending the U and pursuing an English major, Aadnesen played lead guitar in a local band that had a #12 hit in Salt Lake City. His band played local venues and the Union Ballroom, earning money for college. . He continued on to get an MBA from the Eccles School with the intention of working for his dad after graduation. As he neared completion, he decided to pursue other opportunities, and the last company still recruiting that spring was Western Pacific Railroad. It was by happenstance, this musical English major was launched into a highly successful, four decade career in the railroad industry.