Eric Nilsson Eric Nilsson

Taking Values Downtown

For Eric Nilsson, Bethel MBA student and busy dad, solid business leadership starts with his Christian faith.


Eric Nilsson’s days start early. At 7 a.m. He busses to downtown Minneapolis –6th and Nicollet—from Eden Prairie, Minn., to get to Target, where he’s a senior systems analyst in human resources helping manage the Fortune 100 company’s recruitment system.

He squeezes in a workout over lunch; hits up Starbucks (he’s a gold club member) in the afternoon; finishes his work day around 4 p.m.; heads home to his wife Michelle, who also works, and their children: Brennan, 2, and Alaina, 3 months; and then logs back in to check work email later in the evening.

Now he’s adding homework to his busy schedule. And classes.

Eric started Bethel’s MBA program in January 2010, meeting Tuesday nights at the Bloomington, Minn., site.

“It’s one night a week, and my whole schedule is planned out for the next two-and-a-half years,” he says. “I know exactly what I’m going to take and when. I don’t have to navigate any crazy class scheduling or registering.” And for the busy dad who often does his homework on the bus ride to and from work, this is crucial.

Convenience, however, was not the only reason Eric chose Bethel. He wanted an education that could equip him to be a solid Christian leader in a secular business world. “I appreciate the way Bethel incorporates ethics and integrity into every class. Lots of schools offer MBAs, but when someone sees my resume in the future, they’ll see Bethel. It’ll stand out.”

And a learning environment in which classmates become friends has been a bonus. “We’re classmates, but we get to build really strong relationships,” he explains. “In fact, since I started, there have been three babies born and a wedding amongst my cohort. We’re able to do life together.”

Eric plans to receive his degree in May 2012, but he’s already applying the case studies he’s learning to business meetings he’s leading at work.

“If I can complete this degree having gotten three to five nuggets of truth each course…16 courses times 5…then I’ve learned a lot! Already the nuggets are invaluable, helping me open and stretch my mind.”