Rebecca Thomley, our organization’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Hage, Chief Administrative Officer, Cheryl Vennerstrom, Chief Operating Officer, and Leann Thompson, senior Executive Administrator, were featured in the Fall 2009 issue of Concordia St. Paul magazine, published by Concordia University, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The article discussed the success of the Orion Associates organization since the four received Master of Arts degrees in Organizational Management in 2002. The four credit the university’s graduate program with helping them to develop the skills they needed in order to achieve that success.
The text of the article reads as follows:

Alumni from Master’s Program Grow Business Together

Masters of Business:  Four executives earn degrees and a reputation of success

Confidence, creativity, risk-taking abilities, trust, and a strategic plan – that’s a short list of the things developed by four Orion Associates executives during their master’s program in Organizational Management at Concordia.  Without these abilities, the four say their company would not have garnered quite the growth and success it has.

It was 1999 when Rebecca Hage Thomley ’02 took the reins of the 19-year old business her mother had started out of the basement of her home.  Rebecca and three of her colleagues, Cheryl Vennerstrom ’02, Leann Thompson ’02, and her brother, Stephen Hage ’02, embarked on the 18-month master’s program together to learn more about how to take the organization to the next level.

All four alumni attribute the transformation of their management services company and their interactions with one another to the degree program.  During their time in the program they developed a strategic plan for the company.  “It very much benefited us in the direction we were going,” said Thompson, Executive Administrator.

Since then, they have diversified their services and have grown the $5 million company into a $32 million one.  “That diversification has helped us financially,” said Vennerstrom, Chief Operating Officer.  “You need to be diversified in order to survive financially.”

Thomley, Chief Executive Officer, said the program allowed them to adapt their leadership to the growth of the company.  She said trusting each other and taking risks were keys to the company’s growth.  “We trusted each other’s ideas when they fell outside of the box,” Thomley said.

Hage, Chief Administrative Officer, said the program taught their cohort to be conscious of the state of growth of each of their organizations.  “We came to understand the importance of striving always to be a growing organization,” said Hage.  “We have been able to take the messages from the program at Concordia in many different directions,” Thomley said.  “I couldn’t recommend (the program) more highly to any other business.”

Snapshot of Success: Orion Associates

Headquarters: Golden Valley, Minnesota
Industry: Management services company with expertise in
Human Services, Human Resources, Finance, and Training
Number of Employees: 1,600
Awards & Recognition: Minnesota Psychological Association’s 2008
Psychologically Healthy Workplace AwardAmerican Psychological Association’s Best Practices HonorFeatured in Forbes Magazine

Named one of the “Best Places to Work” by Minnesota Monthly

Accredited by CARF, the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission, since 2003

Headquarters addition Gold Status LEED Certified, 2009

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