After 13 assignments, 8 deployments, and 30 years, Jim Slisik finished up his impressive career in the Air Force just over a year ago. For him, UNO’s EMBA program was a logical – and invaluable – next step.
Slisik owns Fitness Machine Technicians, offering residential and commercial repairs on fitness equipment throughout the Omaha metro. He runs the business with his wife Judy after its opening in September 2018, and it’s quickly been picking up pace.
He recalls that the EMBA was a vital step in allowing his entrepreneurial ambitions to come to fruition.
“After the military, being naïve, I figured I’d just clean up my resume and use my experience in the military to possibly find a contracting job,” says Slisik. “It was too short-sighted.”
After starting his EMBA classes, Slisik realized he was thinking too small. Now, he leverages “every piece of the program” in supporting his own business, an unexpected venture that the EMBA helped him feel ready for. What he learned in finance, marketing, accounting, and other areas plays into his role as business owner on a daily basis.
His experiences in the EMBA’s Capstone project also made a difference. During the program, Slisik worked with his EMBA cohort to assist an education testing company in identifying overseas expansion opportunities. The group settled on Brazil, and he had the opportunity to visit and test his group’s theories in São Paulo, Brasília, and Rio de Janeiro.
“It was a whirlwind tour,” recalls Slisik. “You do a lot of research before you leave, put some theories together, and then you go test them. You get clarification and it opens your eyes. It helped us formulate a great product for our client.”
Slisik feels that ultimately, the EMBA reshaped his life and sent it in a newly positive direction.
“I totally revamped my plans after the military,” says Slisik. “The EMBA made me realize how unprepared I initially was to separate from the military and helped me understand what I didn’t know, so it was huge.”
For Slisik, what was most helpful in this time of personal growth was his EMBA cohort, the “amazing people” that supported him in revamping his education after 12 years away from school.
“The best thing about the program is the people and the opportunity to network. Building professional relationships and friendships is invaluable,” says Slisik. “The ability to network, to build those friendships, and to interact with folks from all different backgrounds – it’s as valuable or more valuable than anything else and pays dividends in the long run.”
And in Slisik’s opinion, Omaha was the perfect setting for him to revitalize his education and create the life after the military that he dreamed of.
“I lived in Australia. People always ask why I don’t still live there,” says Slisik. “That definition of paradise isn’t everything. Omaha is a great community, and a great place to put down roots. We’re super proud to live here.”
And Omaha is proud and grateful to have Slisik here, too.