Moving away from home for the first time for college freshmen is exciting. But the experience can also be a little unsettling. It was for Mike Finley, BSBA’83, when he moved to Omaha from his hometown of Cincinnati. Standing outside a locked Swanson Hall, with his suitcases in the early morning on move-in day, he was all alone. The dorms did not open until noon, and Finley felt lost. Compounding the loneliness, when the dorms finally did open, there was a mix-up with his room assignment. It was enough to make him wish for the familiarity of home. But luckily Swanson’s rector, the Rev. Richard D. McGloin, SJ, approached him, took him under his wing and sorted out the housing confusion.
“I was homesick one day in my life, and I met Fr. McGloin,” says Finley.
It was an experience that stuck with Finley. Now, when he looks back on his Creighton years, he recalls with fondness the “unbelievable priests who were always there” for the students. He mentions the professors who relied on industry experience to augment business pedagogy. He remembers how he and his fellow baseball team members practiced in the Old Gym at 6 a.m.
Baseball, in fact, figures prominently in Finley’s career path. He was recruited to play baseball for the Bluejays, and it was on a team trip that he met his future employer. Finley and his parents were in LAX Airport, waiting to board a plane to Hawaii for a game, when he met a friend of his father. The conversation was a polite way to pass time for Finley; it was an informal interview for his father’s friend. A few years later, he sought Finley out to help launch the telecommunications startup Celluland.
“He was looking for a scrappy grunt man,” says Finley, who majored in marketing. “He made me do everything in the company. I had to learn the job entirely before I could hire anyone else.”
It’s a lesson he still values today.
It was the beginning of a long career in the telecommunications business, which includes time with such giants as Sprint, Verizon and Cellular One. Today, Finley is president at Qualcomm, a telecommunications equipment company headquartered in San Diego. He believes Creighton’s stress on ethics helped propel his career forward in a manner consistent with the Jesuit ideals he values. “I learned that you can never go wrong when you do things right. You may lose a deal, but you live with yourself better,” Finley says.
Since graduating, Finley has remained connected with Creighton Athletics as a member of the Hilltoppers Club and through his contribution to the Dr. Lee C. Bevilacqua Memorial Scholarship Fund, in honor of “Doc” Bevilacqua, Creighton team physician for over 30 years. He also helped to establish McGloin Hall, named after the man who first welcomed him to Creighton. This past June he began his term on the Heider College of Business Advisory Board, and he looks forward to returning to campus with greater regularity.
“I wanted to personally stay engaged with the business school and help the next generation of business leaders,” says Finley. And he is gratified that though the university has undergone significant growth since his undergraduate years, it is still populated with “the warmest, friendliest people,” remains personal and has “leadership who genuinely care.”
Like Fr. McGloin did 38 years ago.