Business Students’ Careers Take Off at Kansas City International Airport

UMKC professor’s KC connection provides once-in-a-career opportunity to students
A close up of a blue suitcase with a yellow UMKC luggage tag that has a Roo on it with the KCI airport terminal in the background

Msgana Zegeye recalls the moment she was asked to assemble the dream team.

“Validating, that's the word,” she recalled, describing when Bloch Consulting Lab adviser Marvin Carolina asked her to form a team in her image to work with Vantage Airport Group, the concession developer and manager for the new $1.5 billion Kansas City International Airport terminal.

Msgana Zegeye smiles at the camera in front of the gate signs at KCI

“I think Marvin really saw my passion for leading, managing and operations,” said Zegeye.

She got to work and landed on a four-person team to help advise the company. At first they worked on staffing solutions for the new terminal, but they were so successful, the general manager, Lovell Holloway, kept the team on board and expanded their scope of work.

Zegeye had never worked with any of the peers she selected, but she’d seen them in action in the mock consulting activities in the Consulting Lab. From that, she was able to recognize each of their strengths and envision how those strengths could be deployed to help Vantage Airport Group.

Nicolas Hartung smiles while standing inside the pedestrian bridge in the KCI terminal

“Nicolas, I felt like would be really good at marketing. He's very innovative.”

Erik Klaas smiles standing inside the pedestrian bridge at the KCI terminal

“With Erik, he is super analytical, and finance is his avenue.”

Henry Meeds smiles while standing inside the pedestrian bridge at the KCI terminal

“Henry really likes like logistics. He likes making sure we do everything by the book and in order.”

The team got to work, helping vendors at the airport navigate all their business licenses, airport-specific safety regulations and hiring and retainment strategies for their employees.

As time went on, Holloway entrusted more responsibilities to the team, including conducting an economic impact study and developing an internship program for Vantage Airport Group to further its work with students. Despite the group’s youth, Holloway said he never doubted their capabilities. 

Three students have a conversation with Vantage Airport Group General Manager Lovell Holloway inside the KCI terminal

I'm very fortunate and humbled to be working with these students in the Bloch school," Holloway said. "They've been very great to work with, they've been willing to learn, they have educated us. They add value and have great energy. They're easy human beings to work with, and I'm fortunate as a leader to be able to be entrusted with their careers and their vision of where they want to go in life in the future.”

“It was a really cool experience because we got to see how we're helping them firsthand, and that they were actually going to take our advice and learn from it,” Hartung said.

Students stand in front of the Safi Fresh restaurant at KCI talking with employees

Everyone on the team agrees, the guidance, support and trust from Vantage Airport Group and Holloway, and being allowed to take risks and make mistakes on a real-world project taught them invaluable lessons.

“The experience itself is something I would never have thought I would have been able to get at any university because this type of project doesn't really happen all that often,” said Klaas.

Three students address a group of students inside a Bloch Executive Hall classroom

“UMKC has provided a tremendous amount of opportunity,” Hartung agreed. “I think that's all Kansas City’s about, all the opportunity that it holds for students.”

Top Stories