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Suggestions for Success from a Female Cage-fighting Accountant

Nicole Theresa Forzano, Finance ’07

I am an Eller Finance alum (2007) and a former President of the UA Professional Women in Business Association. Since then, I have worked as a Financial Analyst and Accountant at Raytheon Missile Systems for almost 5 years, I am 1-0 as an MMA fighter, and founded/co-own two businesses: a Tucson-based gym, APEX Mixed Martial Arts, and a promotion/entertainment company d.b.a. APEX Fighting Championship. I can gratefully and honestly say that Eller prepared me well for business and life.

Eller gives you a full array of business skills to work with. Many people say you won’t use what you learn in school, but that was not my experience. In my cohort, our big project was creating a product and a real Business Plan, and little did I know, I would use this knowledge soon after graduating. Just over 3 years ago, my fiancé and I founded the Tucson-based gym, APEX Mixed Martial Arts. Creating the business plan was actually mandatory to obtain funding and even to lease the space, and the financial planning aspect of the business plan proved extremely important for small business success in such hard economic times. So take in everything Eller has to give! Yes, you WILL actually use what you LEARN.

Now, the fun part. Last year, even with having a full-time job at Raytheon among my other endeavors, I was determined to set aside time to do something I always wanted to do (but no one else wanted me to do): a cage fight! I had been training for years, but actually committing to the intense pre-fight training, losing 8 pounds to weigh-in at 119, and preparing mentally and physically to perform at your best is a huge commitment, especially with my schedule. Many people can’t understand why in the world I wanted to do this, but I am so glad I did. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I knew that if I had the courage to do that, I could do anything. So, push yourself to the limit! Building up the courage to get out of your comfort-zone is a huge factor in becoming successful.

Most recently, I co-founded and co-own a Tucson-based promotion launching October 15th at Desert Diamond, APEX Fighting Championship. As part of this endeavor, I have become Arizona’s first licensed female MMA promoter (in a very male-dominant field). With both of my companies, I have learned that persistence and problem solving are key. I probably had a thousand things go against my favor, and you just have to keep pushing and finding solutions. People will discourage you, tell you “no”, things will seem like they are falling apart, and you just can’t give up.

Eller provides you with all the tools necessary, but it is up to you to make the most of your Eller experience and take full advantage of everything it has to offer!