My name is Sid Simonson and I am a proud alumnus of Front Range Community College. I am currently a finance and business operations lead at Lockheed Martin Corporation in the company’s Space Division.
For the last year I have been the finance and business operations lead for the United Kingdom Space Launch Program Grant on the United States side, and I am currently transitioning to the Space Protection Program line of business.
Sounds pretty good, right? Well… my successful business career didn’t exactly start out smoothly. So how did I get here today?
Going Back to School
After several years of telling myself that “someday” I would go back to college and earn my degree, I finally did it—and it all started at FRCC a little over a decade ago.
I had originally started college at the University of Colorado at Boulder—and yes, I was a Ralphie Runner. I transferred to Colorado State University, then decided to take a semester off in order to work full time and earn enough money to return to CSU.
There is a saying, “You never know how poor you are until you start making a little money.” I kept putting off going back to school until almost a decade had passed. I knew that I could do more with my life. I also knew that in order to achieve the success I was dreaming of, I needed a college education. However, the thought of starting over in the world of academia was daunting. It would take a great deal of time, dedication, and money.
I decided to test the academic waters by taking two classes at FRCC. Front Range has a strong reputation for high-quality business classes that easily transferred to CSU. I figured that if I could do well in my first two classes at FRCC, I could move forward and succeed at CSU.
I wanted to be motivated to do well, so I chose two class subjects that I was interested in: nutrition and movie history. However, before I could actually begin classes, I had to be accepted into the school! (I was terrified that they wouldn’t let me in since I hadn’t attended a college in more than a decade.)
I met with a wonderful FRCC advisor who helped me through the application process. She was extremely knowledgeable and she calmed my fears. I passed all of the tests, filled out all of the applications, and was accepted into the college.
Time to Perform
I chose evening classes so that I could work during the day. I never missed a single one. I remember one particular evening in nutrition class when I was suffering from a terrible cold. It was sub-zero temperatures out with a foot of snow on the ground. I asked myself, “What are you doing here? Just go home!”
But I refused to do so. I had decided that if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. I finished the two classes with A grades—which showed me that I could do this and succeed. I loved attending classes at Front Range. I could use the on-campus gym, get lunch in the food court, and do homework in the library all on the same campus.
A Full-Time Student
After my first successful semester at Front Range, I decided to take more classes there since I had such a great experience. I resigned my position at my job and started to go to school full time. My FRCC advisor helped me to lay out a plan to eventually transfer to CSU to complete a bachelor’s degree in the accounting program. My focus at Front Range was business classes.
After my first semester of earning As, and with the help of professors and advisors at FRCC, I started applying for every grant and scholarship that I could. It was challenging at first, but it got easier over time—and the best part was that I started to be awarded them! I was invited to join the Honor Society at FRCC where I became a vice president in the organization.
Taking Care of Business
One of the best classes that I have ever taken was at Front Range—it was called “business communication.” This class helped me get more comfortable giving presentations in front of groups. I took many classes through the business program at FRCC, all of which were high quality and extremely useful.
I particularly benefited from the smaller class sizes and individual attention that the professors were able to give. Front Range was more affordable than CSU—so I decided to take as many classes as I could there before I transferred. Most of my FRCC classes focused on business, which helped me greatly at CSU. I also served as an accounting tutor at Front Range.
From FRCC to CSU
I graduated from FRCC in 2008 with a 4.0 GPA and earned the Outstanding Student Award. It was an honor to deliver the commencement speech at FRCC’s graduation that year.
I then went on to Colorado State University full time where I majored in accounting at the business school. During my time at CSU, I won several awards and took on leadership positions in a significant number of student honor societies and college clubs. I also interned at the Colorado state Senate. I was even appointed to a number of local community and government boards. I received CSU’s top student award upon graduation!
The Job Search
I was extremely concerned that nobody would hire me because I was 10 years older than most recent graduates. I was told to apply to my top three or four companies—but because of my concerns, I went for it and applied to 15. I received 13 offers. This was in 2009 in the middle of the financial meltdown and I was fortunate to have multiple job offers.
The skills and abilities that I learned at Front Range Community College, along with my enhanced commitment to volunteering (which was encouraged at FRCC), helped me build a strong foundation of knowledge and abilities. This was a large part of why I received multiple job offers during this economically challenging time.
A Successful Career
While at CSU, I was recruited by—and offered a position with—Lockheed Martin Corporation in its Financial Leadership Development Program (FLDP), which I gratefully accepted. I started working there in 2009 and graduated from the FLDP Program in 2012, after delivering the graduation speech in Washington, D.C.
I became the deputy finance and business operations (F&BO) lead for the OSIRIS REx Spaceship Program, which was the United States’ first asteroid sample retrieval mission. I was also the F&BO lead for the Juno Spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Jupiter. I then became an F&BO lead for three international satellite programs.
A Master’s Degree
In 2014, I graduated with honors from the University of Denver with a professional MBA in finance and economics in public policy. Then in 2015, I completed a Master of Science in management, also earning a certificate in business ethics from CSU.
I currently serve on DU’s Daniels College of Business Alumni Advisory Board where I am chairperson of the Student Development Committee. I am also an adjunct professor for the DU business school where I teach business ethics (“leading with integrity”), and I have taught for DU in Italy.
I look back over the past decade and I am extremely grateful that I made the decision to attend Front Range Community College.
Many of the advancements that I have been fortunate enough to achieve in the past 10 years started with Front Range. The knowledge and skills that I developed at FRCC, specifically from the business program, have served me well—and they helped form the foundation for my career success.
Now I get to work on projects that only a few people in the world get a chance to be involved with—and it all started at FRCC. One of my greatest honors is to serve on the college’s Business Program Advisory Board. I am very thankful to Front Range Community College for giving me the tools I needed to build the foundation for my career—and for my life.