Faces of Nelnet: Lou Murray, Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions (TX, NM, NJ, NY, MD, CT, DC)
Dawn Knight: What is your main focus right now? I know you’re on some projects for Nelnet; can you give me some insight on those?
Lou Murray: The focus is on my school customers and assisting them with the necessary support in regards to the Direct Loan Program, providing them updates on our services, and being a resource for industry updates and financial literacy. I am at the final stage of certification to be a Certified Educator in Personal Finance, and continue to present to students at some of my schools. I will begin presenting at conferences more in the central to east regions – very exciting – I really enjoy presenting. There are a number of projects that I am working on for NPS. I serve on a committee that develops the financial literacy tools that can be found in the resource library at http://www.nelnetloanservicing.com/library. I’m working on another committee whose goal is to find creative ways of obtaining feedback from our customers. In addition, there are two other projects in development designed to provide schools with enhanced information, which are not quite ready to be revealed.
Dawn: Have you had any memorable moments over the past year work-wise that you’d like to share?
Lou: I have had a few “wins” to some personal goals I set for myself, in regards to the projects mentioned above. But there are a lot of memorable moments that occur when I have the opportunity to travel to join my teammates. As a remote staff of Nelnet, outside of tons of email and some phone calls, I do not get to see my co-workers often. I love my team. Yes, I learn from them and we work well together, but we are friends and it’s the “episodes” that we create when together that make moments unforgettable. I’m laughing at Jim Harris right now, just remembering… oh well, you get it.
Dawn: What is your favorite work-related iPad app that you can’t live without?
Lou: Ah, the iPad… I’m still somewhat new to using it for work, but it’s becoming my Lightsaber, for sure. This may not be the same answer soon, since ios5 and iCloud have come out, but I like keeping things organized through the GoodReader app. Since I often look for opportunities to present, I use Keynote. But the standard Mail and Safari apps are probably used the most.
Dawn: What do you see as the biggest challenge schools are facing right now?
Lou: It amazes me how much industry change that my customers must face, and so often. Is there any other industry that faces so much change? Consider the policies, regulations, technology, sources for aid, goals of their administration…not to mention the ever-changing expectations of the tech savvy generation of students. It is a very challenging time and that is why my team is trying so hard to make things as easy as possible for them. In working with all types of higher education institutions, I’d say the answer to your question is different for each. For some it might be a system implementation, gainful employment rules, cohort default rates… There is a lot going on out there.
Dawn: Who has been your Work / Life mentor throughout the years and why?
Lou: There are too many to mention, and for different reasons, with some not even in the industry. As far as my job, I consider Don Buehrer (Nelnet Partner Solutions) as a mentor, in regards to the importance of having genuine concern for the customer and respect the brand you represent. Don’s a “do-er”, if that’s a word. He’s going to get it done, and with Don, an excuse (even if legitimate) is just an excuse in the end. You simply have to get it done. At the same time, because of the 8 or so years we have worked together, he knows me good enough to say “slow down”, “remember priorities”, and “family is first” when I need to hear it. But there are so many folks that influence me in and outside of work.
Dawn: What was the most recent meal you cooked that turned out awful?
Lou: The last one that turned out awful IS the last time I cooked, along with EVERY meal before that. I’m terrible. I eat good though.
Dawn: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Lou: As a teen I wanted to design houses and be an architect. It would be cool to be in graphic design, be a comic book artist, or work for Disney! I love to sketch. My family shares a story that in grade school, whenever the class had “create what you want to be when you grow up” day, I would make this normal looking guy. When the teachers would ask what it was supposed to be, I’d say “My dad. I want to be a dad.” Well, that one came true!