Chris Frericks: Man for Others, Man of the World, Cincinnati Man
One of the goals of UC’s Lindner Honors-PLUS program is to keep talented business students in Cincinnati after graduation. Graduating senior Chris Frericks is a shining Honors-PLUS example — after travelling the world, he’s making a home in Cincinnati.
Date: 11/30/2007The Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program is an educational experience at the College of Business (CoB) designed for highly motivated individuals with superior academic ability and demonstrated leadership skills. The program’s goal is to graduate successful business professionals with the potential to become future business leaders. "PLUS" stands for Promise as a business professional; Leadership in school and community activities; Understanding of the global marketplace and diverse cultures; and Success through talent, commitment, dedication and effort. All students admitted to the Lindner Honors-PLUS (LHP) Program receive merit scholarships sufficient to cover all in-state academic and general fees.
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Dottie Stover, photojournalist
Chris Frericks loves to travel, so it was fitting that he came to the University of Cincinnati specifically for a program that requires its students to travel internationally. Chris received a full scholarship through the program, but its intangible benefits go way beyond the scholarship. The demanding curriculum, including mandatory co-op experience, strategically positions LHP alumni for immediate productive employment in and service to the Cincinnati business community. More than three-fourths — 80 percent — of the students come from the Cincinnati area, and 80 percent of the program’s graduates start their careers in the Cincinnati area.
Chris started off travelling for his education when he was a student at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, commuting from Maineville every day. St. X prides itself in developing “Men for Others” and that is certainly the case with Chris. While a St. X “Bomber,” he was active in such things as the student council and the spirited “Bomb Squad.”
When considering colleges, Chris’ top choices were UC, Miami University and the Ohio State University. (Both of his parents are MU alums.) However, as soon as he heard about the Lindner Honors-PLUS program, his choice became clear: “UC is an unbelievable school and an unbelievable value,” he says. “When I hear anyone complain about tuition hikes, I say ‘What are you talking about? People from out of state are willing to pay $25,000 to come here!”
Sometimes people can take the hometown university for granted. Jeri Ricketts, director of the Lindner Honors-PLUS program, shares that she thinks that Chris felt overshadowed by his older brother.
“His brother was the ‘Big Man on Campus’ at St. X in high school — a big lacrosse star, etc., etc. — who ended up going to Yale,” she says. “Chris came to UC in our program, and although he knew what a great opportunity it was, he was still confronted by the ‘Chris is only at UC and his older brother is at Yale’ syndrome. During the summer after his freshman year, Chris went to New York to intern for Credit Suisse. I’ll never forget his mom calling me and telling me that, all preconceptions aside, they were all so impressed that, as a FRESHMAN, Chris was working in an internship in New York City, when his older brother had lots of classmates who were juniors at Yale and could not get placements as good as Chris’!”
Originally entering the College of Business as a finance major, Chris’ first co-op was at Credit Suisse, in New York City. He was able to talk with Dick Thornburgh, who was then vice chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston’s executive board. Thornburgh has been a strong supporter of the Lindner Honors-PLUS program, initiating a tradition for hiring LHP students. CoB’s magazine, Portfolio, recently quoted Thornburgh talking about UC students. “The students who’ve come to us have been quality — intelligent, honest, ethical and with a positive outlook,” said Thornburgh, himself a St. X and UC alum, with an MBA from Harvard. “Because of their intelligence and their desire to work, the UC students who’ve come to us have stacked up well against the Ivies.”
Chris said that Thornburgh talked to him about his life and ambitions, saying that he had sacrificed a lot of family time to get where he was in business. Chris took the lesson to heart to know where his own priorities lie.
“It was an excellent opportunity,” Chris says. “I found out real quick that finance was not for me! I was not at all impressed with the banking culture. My brother is in banking and I ask him, ‘What are you doing?’” After having “a blast” working and spending a summer in New York City, Chris returned to Cincinnati and added a marketing major to his life’s program.
His next co-op was for two quarters with Clopay, a strong supporter of UC and Lindner Honors-PLUS. Clopay, a maker of high-end plastics, provides specialty plastics for a variety of industries. Chris says that he learned “a ton” working in an environment where he was basically dealing with commodities, even getting the opportunity to write news releases.
Chris especially enjoyed travelling internationally as part of the LHP program. “I love travelling,” he says. “Especially when I get to do it on the school’s dime!” LHP requires its students to travel internationally after their third year. Chris loved the chance to go abroad with 25 of his closest friends. His first trip was to Europe, studying in France and touring Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. After the required three weeks were over, he and some friends chose the option to stay for two more weeks. Then they travelled through the Czech Republic, Italy and Spain.
“You hear about Europe from books, but you don’t really understand it until you get there and are immersed,” says Chris. Paul Polman, a retired P&G executive who is now CFO of Nestlé, talked to the group about the joys of living in Switzerland. “I came back and decided that I needed to add an international business minor.”
In the summer of 2007, Chris travelled again under the auspices of the College of Business to China, studying and touring Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. After the structured three weeks, he organized a small group of four to tour more of Asia.
“We went to Shanghai, flew to Thailand and toured Cambodia and Vietnam,” he says. The personal visit contradicted what he had learned about Vietnam, mostly in relation to the war of the 1960s and 70s. “It was amazing — it’s not your parents’ Vietnam,” Chris says. “The people were wonderful, they are unbelievably gracious, and everyone there is young — 80 percent of the population is less than 30 years old.”
The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) held a “leadership weekend” with guest speakers presenting to about 30 students, after which the students could sign up for job interviews for positions in finance, marketing or consumer market research. Now a firm believer in marketing, Chris signed himself up immediately.
Chris worked three co-op quarters for P&G, “bouncing around on several different brands in baby care,” he says. “Even though I was a co-op, the company treated me like a real, full-time employee, where I was given the same responsibility and opportunities for travelling, making brand decisions and even facilitating research.”
After Chris graduates on Dec. 8, he steps into a permanent job with P&G in Cincinnati as an assistant brand manager in baby care. He credits his success to the LHP program, saying, “You’re paid to go to school, basically. You get an excellent education; you can co-op anywhere, with multiple companies in multiple fields.” He participates in LHP outreach activities to spread the word about the program throughout high schools in the Tristate area. He was there when CoB hosted a breakfast this fall for about 100 high-school students. “I tell the students, ‘If you’re not applying to UC’s Lindner Honors-PLUS program, tell me why,’” he says. “Then I tell them to give me five minutes and I’ll change their minds!”
Chris is graduating from UC summa cum laude as a double major in marketing and finance, with a minor in international business. In addition to Lindner Honors-PLUS, he is also a Cincinnatus Scholar at the University of Cincinnati.
As he reminisces about the many benefits he has received as an Honors-PLUS student, he talks about the ways that he can pass those benefits on to others. He plans on being active in “Give Back Cincinnati,” a program led by another UC CoB grad, Jay Hummel, as its president. (Give Back Cincinnati is a nonprofit organization, founded in 2000, that is focused on enhancing Cincinnati's communities through activities of volunteerism, while fostering the development of young leadership through participation.) And of course, he plans to give back to Honors-PLUS.
At the recent 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program, Chris and his parents were able to talk to Carl Lindner.
“I shook his hand and said, ‘Thanks a lot for your devotion to Honors-PLUS and for giving me a full scholarship,’” Chris says.
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