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Executive in Residence visits SMC

April Thomas | Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Saint Mary’s alumna Nadine Priestley concludes her two-day stint as executive in residence at the College today, leaving business students reassured in their career paths. Members of the business department chose Priestley – a 1982 graduate of the College – as this year’s executive, a position that has been a departmental tradition for seven years.Business professor Michael Sanders said the purpose of the visit is to invite alumnae to share thoughts and ideas with current business students and set a good example for Saint Mary’s graduates to have successful careers. Each year the business faculty reviews submitted names of interested alumnae. The department chose Priestly for the outstanding example she set after leaving Saint Mary’s, Sanders said. At a dinner tonight to conclude her visit, themed “Saint Mary’s Graduate Finds Her Way to San Jose … Lessons Learned Along the Way,” Priestley will outline her path following graduation – beginning with a senior managing position at the Price Waterhouse Cooper company in Grand Rapids, Mich. In 1990, Priestley relocated to San Jose, Calif. continuing certified public accounting work, but the experience was toiling. Had she stayed, partnership would have been her next promotion, requiring more time than she could give, she said. “While I loved a lot of aspects of my job, it began to feel like work,” she said. “After an auditing fraud within the company, it reaffirmed my suspicion that my heart was no longer in public service.”After 12 years with the company, Priestley left to pursue a position with MAXSTRATT, a small, privately owned company producing high tech data storage devices. She assisted clientele including Walt Disney Feature Animation, Ford, NASA and the United States government. Priestley became the chief financial officer for MAXSTRATT, and helped sell the company to Sun Microsystems, Inc. From this new combination, Priestley abandoned finance to focus on special projects and storage business planning with clients.Priestley emphasized the vitality of daring to take risks.”Moving to San Jose was not economically positive but it was experience,” she said. “At MAXSTRATT, I dared to ask to be the CFO. I said, ‘You need someone to do this for you.'”But, she is sure to make time for her family, which has grown to five children. As a successful, family-oriented businesswoman, Priestley proves that although this lifestyle is challenging, it is rewarding and undoubtedly possible.Priestley also aims to quiet the qualms of business majors concerned with the current market. “It is okay not to have a sure bet,” Priestley said. “Most things in life aren’t. Every position is a step on your journey, not the last job you’ll ever have.”