From Bradley student to jack of all trades

Rick Hicks '91

December 4, 2012

By Kelsey Budd ’14

In today’s competitive job market some university graduates fear they will not be able to find satisfying work after school. This was never the case for Bradley alumnus Rick Hicks ’91.

Hicks graduated from Foster College of Business with a degree in business computer systems, now called management information systems. To help with his job search, Hicks was a frequent visitor of the career office his senior year, attending job fairs in the area and, in his final semester, spending spring break doing interviews that landed him four job offers. 

Just a month after graduation, Hicks was employed as a software engineer at Arthur Andersen, once one of the "Big Five" accounting firms.

“It’s a big jump from college,” he said of his first job after Bradley. “I remember thinking, this is what you went to school for all these years and now its time to start working.”

He left Arthur Anderson in 1996 and began working as an Information Technology Manager for Salem Services, a much smaller company. He learned quickly the differences between working at a small company and a much larger one. His new position came with far more responsibility and he was able to utilize a variety of his skills instead of specializing in a select few. Hicks embraced the leadership challenges that his new role entailed and was excited about acting as a key component of the business. 

“It was a small company so everything came back to what I was doing in the IT department,” Hicks said. “I became a jack of all trades.”

Nowadays, Hicks lives and works in the Chicago suburbs for Follett Higher Education Group as a project manager. At his job he combines the skills learned from previous positions to run numerous business projects at the bookstore chain while overseeing a multitude of subdivisions within the business.

Hicks cited the senior project requirement within the Foster College as an excellent example of how a business project unfolds on a much smaller scale. With the shift from students buying textbooks to renting instead came one of Hicks’ most successful projects, putting Follett Higher Education Group on the map as the nation’s largest operator of college bookstores.

Over a nine-month period, the project team, lead by Hicks, developed the “Rent-A- Text” program before introducing it in stores. Within the first six weeks of launching the program, Follett Higher Education Group had rented more than two million books to customers.

Now in its third year, the Rent-A-Text program accounts for over 9.4 million rentals and has saved customers over $300 million.

Despite all of his success, Hicks said he is most proud of his work life balance and his ability to utilize a variety of skills everyday. These qualities were something Hicks found at Bradley. Not only did his Bradley experience provide him with a great academic background, it also was a place where he could build relationships, something that has taken him very far in his career.