“The right person in the right position at the right time changes the future,” says Nick Cillo, assistant professor of management and finance in the Grace Pilot School of Business at the University of Mobile. It’s a leadership principle this former U.S. Army infantry officer who taught at West Point is passionate about, along with logistics and planning.
He uses those interests to serve others, from starting UM’s Up All Night finals study sessions or grilling hamburgers for students to helping community organizations become more efficient and effective. In 2018 he was awarded the university’s first Faculty Engagement Award for excellence in student engagement and fostering community among students.
Cillo said there’s a reason he has chosen to teach at this Christ-centered university for over 25 years.
“I love belonging to an organization that requires service and demands sacrifice from its members. Extraordinary acts of love and compassion are so commonplace on our campus that they have become the norm,” he says.
We asked him to tell us more about service and what “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose” means to him.
Q: You are passionate about planning and logistics. Tell us about it.
A: When I first began volunteering around my community, church and schools, I noticed how few people knew how to plan and resource their organization’s activities. I have made it a personal mission to show anyone who cares how to improve their organization’s activities, from the high school band to the city library and in various civic and church clubs. I have enjoyed showing people how to more efficiently serve their communities.
Q: What courses do you typically teach in the Grace Pilot School of Business?
A: Supply Chain Management, Project Management, Leadership in Organizations and various finance courses to include Principles of Finance, Personal Finance, and Money and Banking. Some of the management degrees we offer in the School of Business include the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Management and Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management. My all-time favorite course to teach is leadership. I have studied leadership for almost 50 years and I have personally observed hundreds of people in leadership positions. There is so much bad leadership out there that our students can stand out just by learning a few leadership fundamentals and concepts.
Q: What is your background?
A: My Bachelor of Science is in Secondary Education, Social Studies. I served 20 years as an infantry officer in the Army. While teaching at West Point, I earned a Master of Business Administration with a Finance concentration from Long Island University. After retirement from the military, I attended the University of South Alabama where I received a Master of Science in History. I taught for one year at Daphne High School before coming to UM.
Q: UM offers “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose.” What does that mean to you?
A: There is nothing that God needs from us. The only thing He wants from us is our love. Love is placing someone else’s welfare above our own. How much we love Him will be measured by how much we love others. Service to others is the “Higher Purpose.”
Q: What is something outside of teaching that you enjoy?
A: I live in a 125-year-old house. I like to build, make and fix things. I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of construction.