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Unlike many of his contemporaries, Jason Gantzer was fortunate to study at the University of Wisconsin at Madison without financial worry, thanks to various scholarships that he received during his senior year at Franklin High School, including one from the South Suburban Chamber of Commerce.

His record of high school academic success and his involvement on the cross country team, in Future Business Leaders of America and Junior Achievement, as well as his musical talents on the string bass and piano, undoubtedly convinced the scholarship committee that he was a worthy recipient. Gantzer did not disappoint them and remains grateful for the financial help they offered back in 2005.

“I was able to focus on my classes and my long-term goals because I was free of financial stress and burdens,” Gantzer, now the finance manager with Johnson Controls’ Global Manufacturing Group, recalled. “Those scholarships also allowed me to participate in extracurricular activities like the music ministry at the St. Paul University Catholic Center on campus, instead of working to afford my tuition.”

Gantzer completed a double major in finance and economics and spent the summer after his junior year in college working in a corporate finance internship program at Johnson Controls in Milwaukee.

In fact, the fit was so good that immediately after graduation, Gantzer moved into Johnson Controls’ finance and accounting rotational program. He worked in different roles in five different corporate areas for six months at a time – in Milwaukee and in Brussels, Belgium – learning the intricacies of the multinational conglomerate which employs 170,000 people in more than 1,300 locations across six continents.

Johnson Controls, Inc. offers products, services and solutions to increase energy efficiency and lower operating costs for buildings; produces batteries for vehicles, as well as stationary energy storage; and manufactures state-of-the-art automotive seats.

“I was able to meet lots of different people in the company and learn how everything works together which helped me gain a broad overview of what corporate finance is like at Johnson Controls,” Gantzer said.

“Working with different teams and in different areas of finance during those rotations taught me to embrace change and didn’t allow me to become complacent. It also allowed me to be mentored by many different leaders within the company and gave me opportunities to see what has made others successful,” he added.

“Going through that rotational program really helped me to grow in my career over the past seven years,” Gantzer said.

He has also completed a Master’s in Business Administration through Marquette University and married his college sweetheart, Jennifer. The couple has a toddler son.

Today Gantzer admits that his biggest challenge when working in the Global Manufacturing Group is that he needs to balance the expectations of a variety of functional and operational customers.

“I have had to learn to understand the unique needs of each of my business partners, concisely explain complicated financial issues, and provide value in the midst of significant organizational change,” he said. “I feel that the education I was lucky enough to receive, combined with my experiences during the Johnson Controls rotational program, have combined to allow me to more effectively communicate, meet the needs of my customers and support many different functions within the company.”

Congratulations to the 2016 Chamber scholarship winners! Kayla Knuth, Oak Creek High School, is the recipient of the Chamber’s Richard Bolender Scholarship.

Patrick Lacina is the Franklin High School recipient of the Chamber’s scholarship.

Both Kayla and Patrick plan to pursue a career in business as entrepreneurs.

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Edward Jones
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