From American Business Men to International Business Managers
January 15, 2013 | Featured
By Whitney Hale
4700 students. 104 nations. 21 schools. 16 countries. Long gone are the days when NICS/Oasis schools were made up of a few missionary kids and a couple of teachers. The organization now operates a home office in Mississippi with 25 full-time support staff, spends weeks each summer housing and training hundreds of new staff members, and engages not only teachers but also Administrators, Information Technology managers, Chaplains, Nurses, and Guidance Counselors.
In order for teachers to be able to do their jobs well and for our diverse body of students to be educated in the best environment for them, there is much work that must be done outside of the physical classroom. There are several administrative positions within NICS/Oasis including a Business Manager position. Most schools require a Business Manager whose function may encompass a variety of business matters such as financial practices and policies, the management of other business office staff, legal compliance, and several other responsibilities.
Chris Wright and his wife, Nichole, have five kids. They spent the majority of their married life in Southaven, Mississippi, and attended Broadway Baptist Church where NICS/Oasis’ two week long pre-field orientation (PFO) is held each summer. The Wright family hosted a few new NICS/Oasis families in their home during PFO but had never considered further involvement with the organization. Over time, God moved Chris towards the idea of overseas missions work but for several years, none of the openings seemed to be a good job fit for his skills and experience. Chris’ position as a business partner at a local transportation company with his two brothers made it easy to “stay put” in Southaven, but God had other plans. Chris recalls:
One day I was sitting in church and prayed that if there was anything else God had for me, I would be willing. I told Him I would stay right there, but I would sure love to do something in missions. I then went to the nursery and saw Al English [NICS’ Member Care Specialist] who was talking about NICS. I went home and talked about it to my wife, Nichole. We looked up positions, but I was hesitant since I knew I could not teach. We saw a Business Manager position open in Accra, Ghana, which required a Masters degree that I did not have. I began the interview process anyway figuring this would not work out. Nichole was very supportive of this which was surprising because in the past when I would bring up missions, she would always be against it. I began interviewing with the director and he said the position had already been offered, but he would let me know as the person had not yet accepted. One week later he called me back to offer me the position. This was in July and by August we were in Ghana with 5 kids.
The Wrights first moved to Ghana in 2009, and in 2012 they made another move to West Nairobi School (WNS) in Kenya where Chris was to become the Director of Finance and Facilities. He is responsible for the annual budget, keeping track of the overall finances of the school, and facilities maintenance. When asked about the details of his position and his family’s move, Chris responds:
The administration at WNS is great, and Duane Jobe, the Director, has been very supportive. There is a real sense of “team” in the administration here. Kenya itself is a beautiful country and the climate is outstanding--perfect golf weather which is great for me. The school offers plenty for our kids to do and my family has done extremely well moving from Ghana to Kenya. The first month all my kids could talk about was how much they loved the food. There was a limited amount of food to choose from in Ghana, and it took my kids about a year and a half to get used to the country. In Kenya they said they loved it within 3 months. That has been a big relief because they were not very happy about moving at first. The biggest adjustment has been for Nichole as all 5 of our kids are now in school and she is presently working with the school as the Admissions Director.
Troy Lundy, NICS/Oasis’ (new) Comptroller, works closely with Chris Wright and other NICS/Oasis Business Managers. Because of his background and experience, Troy brings a distinctly unique perspective to the Home Office. Troy’s brother and sister-in-law as well as his mother worked for NICS years ago. Troy credits their positive experience as a strong influence for him joining the organization. He relays the following story:
My mother called and informed me that a NICS/Oasis school in Ankara, Turkey was trying to get off the ground and they were looking for staff. My first response was, “Mom, I am not going to Turkey.” This was in 2003 and the U.S. was in a military conflict with Iraq, so security for my family was on the forefront of my mind. My mother then asked if I would pray about it and I promised her that I would. Now, I often tell people that you need to be careful what you promise your mother, because as I prayed, the Lord began to put it on my heart the need to go to Turkey.
Troy contacted Ross Campbell, Director of Oasis International School in Ankara, Turkey, in order to scope out the school’s needs for teachers. Ross informed Troy that he was not qualified to teach at the school due to his lack of qualifications and experience. This news came to the relief of Troy who was still not elated at the prospect of moving to Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country. But Ross quickly informed Troy that he was qualified for an open Business Manager position; Troy agreed to accept, and his family then transitioned into life in Turkey. Troy says, “As a child in a church service, I once made a commitment to God that I would serve Him overseas in some capacity and I figured a two year contract with NICS would fulfill that commitment. Little did I know God would have me spend nine years serving in Turkey, but what a blessing it was for both me and my family, and yes, God did watch over us.” As the Business Administrator in the Oasis school in Turkey, Troy handled all the financial aspects of the school and completely managed the school’s business matters.
After nine years in Turkey, Troy and his family have recently moved to Southaven, Mississippi, so that Troy could become the Comptroller for the NICS/Oasis Home Office. Troy’s experience before he came to NICS was in the printing industry where he managed different pre-press departments for different printing organizations in Massachusetts. While he did not have much experience with accounting directly, Troy’s every day load included meeting production due dates by managing multiple machine load times and hourly quick calculations in order to determine how product lines were maintained for output. A lot of math goes into printing, and Troy explains his experience in regards to his current position:
The best experience it gave me was the ability to make decisions on the run based on the information you have in front of you, but to adjust when things change or go wrong. Part of my job as Comptroller is to assess financial data and assist schools when changes need to be made. Helping others make financial decisions for their school or in some cases making the decision for them is a must for this position.
My responsibilities as Comptroller include reviewing school director’s compliancy statements and documents as it relates to the financial sections of the NICS/Oasis School Policies & Administrative Guidelines. I also play a part in helping to draft those policies and guidelines. I review school budgets to make sure they are properly structured and I make suggestions or edits when necessary. I also review documents in relation to employee compensation, tuition assistance formulas, and ancillary budgets for crisis management. I work closely with Lonnie Buller, Finance Director, in maintaining certain financial reporting on funds within the organization. My job is to assist both the directors of the school’s and their business managers as it relates to the financial operations of their organizations. My job also requires me to make regular scheduled visits to schools within the network to review financial policies and procedures onsite.
NICS/Oasis’ Home Office is excited to have both Troy and his wife, Jen, in Southaven. On the Lundys move back the U.S., Troy comments, “A lot has changed since we left. Southern cooking is not helping my waist line….I feel blessed to be in this role and I look forward to seeing what God has for me in this new position. Keep us in your prayers.”
While most of the classroom positions within the NICS/Oasis schools require teaching degrees, there are several other opportunities to serve within the organization that require experienced, gifted individuals with specific skill sets. Chris Wright and Troy Lundy are only two of the individuals God is using to help provide excellent education for students around the world.
*If you are qualified in the area of business to operate a school business office, please check out the NICS website for openings: www.nics.org or contact TroyLundy@nics.org.