Committed to the News
Francis Wick, Eller MBA ’11
Taking a photo of the local high school game, writing a story about the town preacher, or assisting a local merchant promoting the weekend sale came naturally for Francis Wick. He grew up in a newspaper family; Wick Communications owns 28 newspapers and 18 specialty publications in 13 states.
But for Wick, the newspaper business is far more than just a means to a paycheck; from a young age, he says, his family emphasized the importance of local news for small communities.
The news about newspapers isn’t sunny at the moment, but Wick is confident the industry will overcome its current adversities. “I’m committed to the belief that newspapers and the functions they play in communities are vital,” he explains. “News has a direct impact on the basis of democracy. Voters rely on the paper to educate themselves about local issues. There’s something to be said when you can get involved in a community at that level.”
Wick entered the University of Arizona as an undergraduate. “My father always told me that you should go to school until you’re 30,” he says. “It’s a time of growth, in which you’re evolving and retaining tremendous amounts of information. And when you look at statistics, most people don’t go into the discipline that they majored in. It made me think about what I enjoy doing.”
Eventually, he landed in a political science class. “It was the first time I found myself thirsty for knowledge,” he says. “I found I was really passionate about it.” He graduated in 2004 with his undergraduate degree in political science and began his newspaper career with Swift Communications in Colorado.
“I worked for publisher Jim Morgan at the Summit Daily News,” Wick says. It was an opportunity to gain broad experience with a family-owned company that takes a proactive, technology-focused approach to the challenges newspapers face today.
“Working every day, I began to appreciate what I could do with a broader knowledge of business,” he says. “I lacked particular skill sets, and knew grad school would help to address those issues.” He began thinking about an MBA, but then a management opportunity came up at the Daily Iberian in Louisiana. “I needed to get management experience before grad school to broaden my perspective,” he says.
Wick spent two and a half years in Cajun country before entering the Eller MBA. “I’ve always felt a strong connection to the UA,” he says. “Inquiring at other universities, you might email them and not hear back for a week. You may speak to someone a third time, but he doesn’t remember you. But the Eller MBA admissions office really went out of its way to be welcoming and professional.”
He has just completed his first semester in the program. “While pursuing my MBA, I’m also sitting on the board of my family’s company, which I’ve done for the last three years,” he says. “It’s given me a totally different perspective. I’ve already found that information from class has been applicable in our board meetings; for example, looking at metrics for the growth of a firm beyond the financials.”
Next semester, Wick will work with a team of fellow MBAs on a consulting field project for the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. He is actively volunteering with Junior Achievement, and is also planning to apply to the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program.
After he’s completed his MBA, he says, “I’d like to go back to the family business, perhaps as a publisher, or, if the stars align I’d like to buy a small-town paper and run it.”