Class of 2014 Success Stories: Ready to take on the world

Business student completes dream internship in Switzerland.

Class of 2014 Success Stories: Ready to take on the world
Photo Credit: Kamil Czerwinski

By Amy West

Ryan Shukis, a student in the College of Business Administration tri-specializing in finance, marketing and international business, and minoring in German, is graduating in a few days with a portfolio that resembles someone well established in their career, not someone just getting started.

Shukis has spent the last four years taking advantage of every available opportunity to prepare him for a successful career in the international business field. He is actively studying French and German and hopes to study Italian and Spanish in the future.

“Knowledge is power and I plan to get a lot of it,” he remarked.  

He began his career at the age of 15 by starting his own eBay business. He learned from a family member how to sandblast designs on wedding flutes, mugs, shot glasses and other glassware and sold these items on the popular online auction website.

His father loaned him the start-up capital of $300 to purchase a sandblasting machine and Shukis paid him back when sales took off. Through this experience, he said he learned the value of customer service, shipping products on time and the financial side of running a business.

Shukis embraced his mantra, “knowledge is power,” throughout his academic career. “The College of Business offers so many opportunities for students to become engaged in the college. There are many new initiatives that are creating a buzz throughout the college and it is an exciting place to be. I became an engaged student through the many programs and events, which helped me get to know my professors.

“There are workshops where we learn networking skills, dining etiquette, dressing for success and other valuable lessons that you don’t learn in the classroom,” he said. “There is also the CBA Rewards Points program that rewards students for attending events. And, there are many events to choose from including world renowned speakers, class dinners and college events that encourage participation, experiential learning as well as plain old-fashioned fun.”

Shukis also took advantage of a study abroad program and enrolled in the Ecole de Management Strasbourg Program at the University of Strasbourg in France where undergraduate students have the unique opportunity to earn a dual business degree from both BGSU and from one of the most renowned European educational institutions. He also spent a summer studying abroad in Salzburg, Austria, through another BGSU study abroad program.

Shukis credits his advisor, Susan Kosakowski, as a major contributor to his success by keeping him on track with his coursework. Since he is involved with three different departments within the college, he has had the pleasure of taking classes from many different professors.

“The staff in the college is fantastic and I was able to experience the greatness of them all. We have a tremendous group with amazing life experiences that they readily share with students to keep them motivated, focused and interested,” he said.

During one of his classes with faculty member, Ed White, former CFO of Owens-Illinois (O-I), he took advantage of yet another opportunity. White offers to introduce students to his business connections to help them secure internships, co-ops and even permanent positions. This is how Shukis ended up at the European Headquarters of Owens-Illinois completing a dream internship.

White, executive-in-residence at the College, recognized Shukis’ drive early on.

“Ryan is very goal-oriented and he is willing to work hard and to do what is necessary to achieve his goals. He wanted an international internship and was willing to work hard for one.”

They developed a plan together and White arranged for him to meet with Robert Gachot, vice president of finance at O-I Europe, for lunch. Shukis took a risk and traveled to Switzerland for the meeting. The rest is history—Shukis and Gachot hit it off and Shukis was offered the position.

Currently, Shukis lives in Lausanne, Switzerland, near Lake Geneva. He works in the finance department analyzing reports from the European operations including Germany, France, Italy and the Czech Republic. He is responsible for more than 10 multinational reports produced weekly, monthly and quarterly and distributed to both the European managers as well as exclusively to senior level management. In addition to learning new languages, he is learning how to use programs such as SAP, Vendavo and Hyperion Financial Management software.

“The most enjoyable thing is learning something new every day,” Shukis said. “Since I am studying languages, I can ask nearly anyone around me if I need help with how to say something or need a further explanation. I work with very motivated and intelligent individuals who are always there to help if I need it.”

There are 19 different countries represented in his office building, which is a dream come true for an international business major. “My focus right now is on French, followed by German. I would love to study every European language at once but I don’t think my brain can handle it. Studying languages in Switzerland is perfect because it consists of so many nationalities.” said Shukis.

When asked what he does during his free time, his answer is no surprise.

“I continue learning. Becoming more and more of a global citizen has to be my favorite thing. I am constantly reading the Wall Street Journal and through work I am able to stay updated on what is going on in the international marketplace with such a diverse workplace and challenging environment.”

White said the O-I leadership is so impressed they are asking to see additional candidates from the College for internships. White also added that Shukis did not become successful from luck. He worked hard, created goals and then used every opportunity available to him to achieve those goals.

“When students arrive in the CBA, we (advisers) dedicate ourselves to encouraging students to take advantage of every opportunity,” said Kosakowski. “Ryan arrived at BGSU with that plan in mind and has wrapped his arms around every opportunity here. The assets he will leave with guarantee he is well-prepared to have the future of his choice.”.