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Internship leads alumnus to international job with Caterpillar, Inc.

Posted: Sep 04, 2012

Smidt family
Ben and his wife Bekah, with their children, Isaiah and Brooklyn

"Integrity is essential to enduring success,” says ONU alumnus Ben Smidt ’07, a top employee at Caterpillar Inc., the world’s chief manufacturer of mining and construction equipment, natural gas and diesel engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.

Mexico, Belgium and a black belt

Ben first connected with Caterpillar through an internship opportunity during summer 2005. The following summer, he interned again, making a positive impression on his superiors.

“I worked hard during my internship,” he recalls. “That was recognized and I was given increasing responsibility and opportunities. They even sent me to Mexico for a couple weeks to review facilities there.”

As a result, Ben connected with some of the leaders at Caterpillar, who eventually hired him fulltime. He has served in several capacities within their logistics division, Cat Logistics, and is currently a distribution consultant. “Our team is focused on reducing service parts inventory, which is important to the long-term financial health of the company,” he explains.

In 2009, Caterpillar sent Ben and his wife Bekah (McCoy) ’07 to Belgium for three years, where he worked as a Six Sigma Black Belt for transportation management. It was also during this time that their two children, Isaiah (3) and Brooklyn (1), were born.

The Olivet difference

Now living back in his hometown of Morton, Ill., Ben reflects on his impressive professional path thus far. While studying accounting and economics/finance at Olivet Nazarene University, Ben was being prepared for his current career in three ways:

“At Olivet, I developed a very good technical and analytical skill set. It’s important to use your college training to get a marketable skill — Olivet provided that for me.”

“I was able to complete requirements for my CPA exam during my time at ONU. Not many schools would have offered that flexibility. My Olivet professors trained and prepared me very well, and I passed the exam on my first try.”

“Working with others is a critical part of long-term success in the industry. In my business experience, you can either see people as machines from which you are trying to maximize output, or as God’s children. Olivet helped me to see people with a loving heart.”

Eternal investment 

All of Ben’s Olivet professors contributed to the overall atmosphere and environment of his college experience. But two in particular invested in Ben in special ways — Dr. Lynda Allen, business, and Dr. Mark Williams, accounting. 

“Dr. Allen helped me grow as a person and develop my leadership skills while serving as SIFE president. Her personal and professional guidance left a lasting impression on Bekah and me. Dr. Williams showed me how to use accounting as a ministry. If I become a professor, I would model myself after him.”

Eventually, Ben thinks he may do just that. “I’m currently building a practical base of experience, which is important for a professor to have. Then I would love to eventually give back to students in the classroom.”

Ben will be recognized for his achievements this coming November with the ONU Young Alumni Award during Olivet’s annual Homecoming celebration.

1,318

Number of participants in Olivet's intramurals program, in activities such as volleyball, flag football and table tennis