From Law Enforcement to Analytics
Data Analyst, Smithfield Foods
By Linda Santiago-King
Coming to Regent from the field of law enforcement, Nicholas Brightwell (SBL ’21) was unsure of the path he was to pursue in the next chapter of his life. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and International Politics from George Mason University. Working in law enforcement for four years helped him develop motivation and focus, and he enjoyed serving the community in that capacity. However, he felt a calling to position himself for developing more well-rounded and marketable skills.
Because his wife worked at Regent as an Academic Advisor while pursuing her master’s degree, he became aware of the community and programs Regent had to offer. After deep contemplation, he felt called to accept a position in Enrollment Management as an Admissions Counselor. He eventually applied for the MBA program, and he found the beginning of the path he felt called to pursue.
Inspiration, Preparation and Practical Experience
Brightwell describes himself as ambitious, and the MBA program was a natural fit for his “charge the hill” spirit. The concentration in finance was chosen for his passion for helping others become financially literate. Brightwell still recalls his excitement for a course with Dr. Mulford, where he thrived in economics, and his finance classes with Dr. Root and Ethics with Dr. Renz. The MBA program also afforded him the opportunity to assist a local pizza restaurant with its marketing plan.
In his Strategic Planning Management course, he had the opportunity of working with Jeff McWaters on the research and planning of “Rapid Overland Express” (ROX) and assisted him with his strategic business plan and launch.
“I have fond memories of my Regent experience and value the care my professors took to champion my success.”
ROX offers luxury motorcoach transportation to Washington, D.C. from Virginia Beach and Charlottesville, Virginia. ROX motorcoaches are completely customized to serve just 22 travelers in plush leather seats, far fewer than the 56 or more seats in regular buses. The on-board cabin experience includes concierge service, complimentary catering and luxury amenities including:
- Powerful WiFi
- Entertainment Options
- Tray Tables
- Hot Towels
- Noise Reducing Earbuds
- Satin Eye Masks
- Sewing Kit
- Shoe Polish Sponges
- Screen Cleaner
- Phone Chargers (Android & iPhone)
- Makeup Mirrors
Working with McWaters and his startup concept, Brightwell developed excitement with the realization that this project and business had the potential for greatness. The project itself was a tangible experience that helped him build confidence in his business acumen. Following McWaters’ business launch, Brightwell was called upon for additional projects, further assisting McWaters.
A New Path Forward
Brightwell says the MBA helped him develop the ability to understand how different processes all connect with the bigger picture, enhanced his research capability, and developed skills to market himself to future employers. To add to that, the skills he acquired working at Regent as a data analyst provided the preparation to work for a well-known company, Smithfield Foods. Smithfield Foods is “an American food company” and leader in pork production, feeding millions of people worldwide. Brightwell was hired as a data analyst in their Data Management Department.
Goals, Aspirations and Professional Growth
Brightwell’s future goals include working toward a senior analyst position and eventually moving into the management of an analytical team. He aspires to behave as a manager even before he earns the position and to exercise servant leadership in his daily interactions with his team and new team members.
Brightwell enjoys the significant data reporting his team is responsible for and the opportunity he has to make a difference in decision-making every day. His MBA has positioned him to have a deeper understanding of the “why” behind the decision-making that his analysis contributes to, compared to someone whose focus is solely on data science. He says his director is a servant leader, which Brightwell finds motivating. He is surrounded by great people and a positive and encouraging culture at Smithfield Foods. He embraces the company’s core values and commitment to sustainability and animal care above industry standards.
Brightwell enjoyed the Christian ethics and faith integration in his coursework at Regent and is grateful he can explore ethical implications in everyday decision-making in his current role. His personal and professional growth has enabled him to confidently engage in topics about starting a business, assembling teams and generally improving his communication skill set. “I have fond memories of my Regent experience and value the care my professors took to champion my success,” he says, noting that his undergraduate experience was not as personal. “I heartily recommend Regent to my friends and colleagues.”
About the School of Business & Leadership
The School of Business & Leadership is a Gold Winner – Best Business School and Best MBA Program by Coastal Virginia Magazine. The school also has earned a top-five ranking by U.S. News & World Report for its online MBA and online graduate business (non-MBA) programs. The school offers both online and on-campus degrees including Master of Business Administration, M.S. in Business Analytics, M.A. in Organizational Leadership, MA. in Product Management, Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership, and Doctor of Strategic Leadership.