A spark of light and energy, this woman always put a smile on my face as I would pass her desk every morning on the way to mine. “Hey, pretty Nikki” was how I greeted her. While probably an inappropriate way to greet a co-worker, I didn’t care. When I saw her sitting there, usually in bright colors and a lovely smile on her face, it was the greeting she inspired me to make.
This rising star in the product world grew up in an entrepreneurial family whose business was food and wine. I always hold a special place in my heart for women who grew up with parents who made their own way. I feel an immediate kinship and we understand each other in a way not everyone can relate to.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Nikki’s family moved to Chanhassen, MN when she was 10 years old and has lived in Minnesota except for the brief time she worked at a company in Madison, WI.
Nikki was a musician in high school, where she joined an a cappella group with 7 other kids. She lettered in music and academics, illustrating her curiosity in right and left-brained activities.
After high school, Nikki attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth, majored in marketing and Spanish and graduated during the last Great Recession. Job hunting was tough during this time, because she wanted to work at an ad agency, but the downturn in the economy hit that industry especially hard. She ultimately landed at Epic, where she worked as a project manager in healthcare software implementation. It was at Epic where she learned to expand her influence to an audience of stakeholders in the medical field, learning to communicate to physicians how her technology solutions were actually going to improve their lives.
From Epic, she went to Thomson Reuters, where she discovered the Agile process and it solidified her interest in web and mobile development as the career path she wanted to be on.
She eventually got her Scrum Master certification and that is when Target came calling. Target recruited her as a Senior Scrum Master, but it didn’t take long until she was promoted to a Lead Product Owner. She grew fast during her time at Target and also completed her MBA program at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.
Sadly, for me, she recently left Target to take the next step in her journey to world domination. This dynamic force took her talents to Best Buy. And while I miss seeing her everyday when I walk into the office, I’m excited to watch her have impact in whatever space she decides to enter next.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
There are 3 women I would like to have dinner with. The first is Queen Victoria. She was an austere, iron-fisted woman. She was England! The second woman is the Prime Minister of New Zealand. The compassionate leadership she exhibited after the mosque shootings in Christchurch was inspirational. The third would be my mom’s mom. I never met her, but she led a nursing department in the 60’s & 70’s and I’d like to know what that was like. I’d also love to hear stories about my mom when she was young.
Would you like to be famous? In what way?
When I was little, yes. Now that I’m older, no. However, I am an avid consumer of Reality TV and would like to have the access that fame gets you, but wouldn’t want to have the public profile.
When was the last time you sang to yourself or someone else?
I sing all the time! That’s how I express myself. I sing in the car. That’s just what I do.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
Most of the movies I watch are horror, so I feel like I’ve thought about it, but now that you ask, I really haven’t. I hope I die peacefully with a million people around me.
Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
Nick and I have a lot in common. We’re both “type A” personalities. We’re very family-oriented and close to both of our families. We are adventurous and that can express itself in many ways like: Travel, new career challenges and home improvement projects. New experiences are very important to us.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My family. We moved away from our extended family in Pittsburgh when I was 10 years old. Back then, I had lots of family within a 5 mile radius. So, when we moved to Minnesota, it made our immediate family very close.
If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish I’d grown up physically close to more of our extended family. I missed out on running around and playing with cousins. I wouldn’t change how I grew up, but it would have been better with more family around.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Can it be a magical ability? I would choose teleportation. I love going to new places, but I don’t love the process of traveling. That, or doing math in my head.
What is your most treasured memory?
My wedding day. We had family travel from all over the country to attend. Some had never even been to Minnesota! The night before the wedding, we were reflecting on how awesome it was that everyone was coming. My dad said: “Look at what you did Nik, you brought everyone together.”
Share an embarrassing moment in your life.
I have, what others may think, are embarrassing moments daily, so I don’t think I embarrass easily. The only thing I can think of is that I totaled my car by hitting a deer. A one-car accident and had to call my dad to pick me up. That was kind of embarrassing.