3M’s CFO Nick Gangestad ‘86 Shares Sound Advice for Augsburg Business and Accounting Students

Nick Gangestad talking to students and facultyEarly in his career, 3M’s CFO Nick Gangestad ‘86 created an excel spreadsheet to map out his professional development and possible future jobs. As a planner and an accountant, Gangestad jokes that excel seemed like the only application to use.

Augsburg’s Business Administration Department recently welcomed Gangestad to campus to share with students his advice as they begin their careers. The room was eager to hear about Gangestad’s vocational journey and the steps he found most valuable during his impressive career at 3M. Gangestad encouraged the students to have goals and a plan in mind and to share those goals with their future supervisors. He said there were a number of times in his career when sharing his future hopes opened doors to new and fruitful experiences.

Among the key takeaways from Gangestad’s talk were to establish a personal brand. Gangestad said there were more than 1000 accountants working at 3M back when he was just starting out at the company. He worked to establish a brand that was true to him but also differentiated him.

“I had a brand around being a teacher,” Gangestad said, “and that I could explain concepts to people that most other people couldn’t and I could do it in a way that people could understand.”

Gangestad talks to students and facultyHe told students that it’s important to try to be the first to do something and to think about what you want to be known for. He also encouraged them to take risks. Gangestad has enjoyed the times in his career when he has worked abroad and found value in the challenges and opportunities that made him uncomfortable allowing him to grow as a person.

Gangestad also mentioned the ways in which he has chosen to get involved and give back to his community which includes serving on the Board of Regents at Augsburg.

“The Business Administration Department is very grateful that a man as busy as Nick Gangestad would take so much time to share his extremely impressive vocational journey with our students,” Professor of Economics Jeanne Boeh said after the talk. “Our students left with so many good ideas and strategies for their career moving forward in addition to the important meta message of giving back to the community.”

About Nick Gangestad (from 3M’s Corporate Officer’s page)

Nick Gangestad, 3M’s chief financial officer, grew up on a farm in Iowa intending to pursue a traditional accounting practice. That’s certainly the path he started down, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting followed by an MBA. But when he was in college, Nick participated in a corporate student program at 3M that started him down a different path. That was almost three decades ago.

“Three aspects of 3M changed my mind,” Nick recalls. “This place operates like a family. I saw opportunities to do it all while working for one company. And I liked how 3M developed people.”

Now, he’s such a big believer in the company that he has a framed copy of the McKnight Principles hanging on his wall at 3M headquarters. William L. McKnight was a longtime 3M CEO whose management philosophy – of allowing room for the kind of experimentation that leads to breakthrough innovations – has shaped the company.

Innovation is clearly appealing to Nick, who was the first student in his high school to buy a computer. He was almost certainly the first student to start his own business, when he began programming videogames and selling them to his classmates. But he also hasn’t wandered too far afield from his first love of accounting.

Nick began at 3M in 1987 as a systems analyst in the company’s finance office. He became a plant accountant a few years later, followed by financial analyst and financial manager roles in various divisions in the U.S., Latin America, and the Asia Pacific regions. In 2003, Nick was named vice president of Finance and Information Technology for 3M Canada. In 2007, Nick returned to Minnesota to direct corporate accounting for the company, followed in 2011 by a new role as corporate controller and chief accounting officer. In 2014, he was named 3M’s chief financial officer.

Outside of work, Nick and his family enjoy sailing, supporting the arts, home renovation, traveling and hosting travelers and – of course – cheering on the Minnesota Twins.

Alumna Chalks Up Another Patent

Audrey Sherman pictureAs a girl, Audrey Sherman ’97 loved science classes so much that there was no hesitation when her college-student mother asked for help with her own science classes. Going to local lakes and ponds together to collect water specimens, examining them under microscopes, and then recording the findings gave Sherman a taste of what her own college experience might be like. But she didn’t expect to someday become an inventor!

One day in her junior year of high school, Sherman heard a pitch about a program that tickled that love of science—a program that would lead her to the career of her dreams. The speaker was describing the STEP program, a science encouragement program sponsored by 3M, the global St. Paul-based company famous for innovations such as Scotch tape, Post-It Notes, and over 60,000 other products.

Sherman was told that, in a 3M classroom, she and other high school students would learn from 3M scientists about chemistry, math, and polymers; learn how to do research; and at the end of the sessions, have an opportunity to interview for a full-time paid summer job in the 3M laboratories.

Becky Kreckel, the woman introducing the STEP program, described the joy of cooking with chemicals and making new molecules, outlined the opportunities that science could offer, and—the clincher for Sherman—talked about the sports car she owned. Sherman liked the idea of making new things, and being rewarded for it, and she was hooked. Continue reading “Alumna Chalks Up Another Patent”

President Pribbenow Honors 3M CFO Nick Gangestad ’86 with Inaugural Golden Bow Tie

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Last week, more than 50 Auggies gathered for lunch at the 3M campus in Maplewood. Despite sharing the same employer, some who had known each other had not made the connection of sharing an alma mater! President Pribbenow shared anecdotes from Augsburg’s history with 3M. During the 1970s, Augsburg’s business program hosted courses at 3M, and many Auggie alumni from this era are still employed there. Currently, more than 200 Augsburg alumni work for 3M.

Bow TieHolly Knutson ’03, MBA ’07, Auggie extraordinaire and member of the 3M finance department, worked with the Alumni Association to honor Nick Gangestad ’86 for his recent promotion as CFO. Pribbenow presented Gangestad with the inaugural Golden Bow Tie award:

The Golden Bow Tie Award is bestowed upon a leader within the Augsburg Community who exemplifies outstanding achievement, embodies the core values of an Augsburg education and inspires great pride for all Auggies. Nick was also presented with a certificate and gold cufflinks in the shape of bow ties.

Nick Gangestad shared three core Augsburg philosophies at Augsburg that have impacted his life: faith, liberal arts, and a unique urban setting. As a student, Gangestad’s faith deepened, and he felt supported in that growth by Augsburg’s core Lutheran values. Liberal arts, the importance of entrepreneurship, and flexibility are also important to him. He attributes his liberal arts education to his ability to lead effectively at 3M. Coming from a small town in Iowa he had a distinct appreciation of Augsburg’s location in the city of Minneapolis.

The Augsburg Alumni Association can help you host your own workplace Augsburg Alumni event like this luncheon at 3M. To gather a group of Auggies at your workplace, please contact Amanda Scherer, assistant director of corporate and foundation relations at 612-330-1720 or scherera@augsburg.edu.