The Kramersmeier Effect

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One small act can have significant effects on the future. That much is certainly true of the life and career of Kristi Kramersmeier, Class of ‘88. Kristi applied for a student exchange program in high school at the request of her mother and guidance counselor. The decision has taken her around the world, conducting business in multiple languages.

As a junior at Eagle Grove High School, Kristi reluctantly applied for a U.S. Senate-sponsored exchange program. U.S. senators selected only one applicant from their states for the honor. She was selected by Senator Roger Jepsen. Her destination? Japan.

The impact of that Japan trip led Kristi to Buena Vista University. After earning her associate degree from Iowa Central Community College, she went in search of a private university offering a Japanese language program.

“BVU presented me with many opportunities,” she says. “I took advantage of them.”

During the fall of 1987, Kristi and six other students, accompanied by Dr. Sandra Madsen, professor emeritus of speech communication, were one of the first groups to participate in an exchange program with Hokusei Gakuen University located in Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaid, Japan.

“Kristi was a very good student and very ambitious,” recalls Sandra. “To take off for a semester and go to a foreign country shows you the kind of motivated people BVU has. Kristi was perhaps even more so.”

In 1988, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in small business management/marketing, she joined Microware and Kaplan on a trip to Japan and put together a proposal on how she could improve communication between the Japan and U.S. branches of the company. She worked in Tokyo, specializing in licensing software to Asian CE manufacturers and other vendors who supplied set-top boxes for some of the world’s first digital ITV trials deployed by Bell Atlantic, Tele-TV, Bell South, and Hong Kong Telecom. She later returned to the company’s U.S. headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, where she held various director-level positions in product marketing, product management, and contract management.

After 11 years at Microware Systems Corporation, she decided she was ready for a break in her career.  Kristi obtained her master’s degree in international management (global MBA) from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management. In addition to her graduate studies, she managed several corporate consulting projects for high-profile clients including Johnson & Johnson Japan, EDS Japan, Accenture, and Intel. Upon graduation, Kristi received the Barton Kyle Yount award, Thunderbird’s most prestigious student award based on scholarship, accomplishment, and character.

Her experience at Thunderbird also allowed her to travel extensively. She studied Chinese for the first time and took a 5000-level Japanese course at Thunderbird’s Japan Center in Tokyo, where she spent the previous summer studying finance. She also visited Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore as part of the Supply Chain Management Interim.

 “I feel every person should go to a foreign country at least once in their lives,” she says. “It opens up your eyes to so much more. In addition to learning about other cultures and ways of life you really learn about yourself.”

Following her Thunderbird experience, Kristi joined IBM Microelectronics in Burlington, Vt. in 2002 as an integrated supply chain planning analyst. In 2004, Kristi made the move to Syracuse, New York, to join the corporate team at Advance/Newhouse Communications. Today, Kristi is the vice president of new product development for the company, the owner and operator of Bright House Networks, which produces and distributes digital cable, high speed internet and home phone service products and services. Her duties include management of new product planning, product requirements, implementation plans, and vendor relationships.

 “I fell in love with technology back when I was taking classes at BVU,” Kristi says. “Being responsible for new product development that actually shows up in customers’ homes is very exciting,” she says. “It’s rewarding to know what I do touches customers every day.”