Niko Vasilopoulos and Jillian Buenger.

Three Pillars for the Future

Monday, September 25, 2023

A conversation with Business Board President Niko Vasilopoulos and Vice President Jillian Buenger.


Niko Vasilopoulos and Jillian Buenger are serving as the President and the Vice President of the Carlson Business Board - Undergraduate Student Government this year.

What are your primary goals for your term?
NV: “We're basing all of our initiatives and events off three main pillars that are going to be fundamental for our work throughout this year: Student Voice, Enabling Authenticity, and Strategic Partnerships.

The first pillar is Student Voice. We want to focus on representing the perspectives of all undergraduate students. We were elected to do that and we don't take that responsibility lightly.”

JB: “One of my main reasons for getting involved in Business Board in the first place is being able to bring different opinions, backgrounds, and people's life stories to light. One of the best parts about student government is being able to listen to other people and act as the megaphone for what they want.”

NV: “Our second pillar is Enabling Authenticity. The Carlson School is a place where students come to learn about the world of business, while exploring what that world means to them. We want to enable students to be authentic in choosing their path, even if it's not what the typical business student looks like. We want them to feel confident, supported and comfortable while being creative in their path.

Our third pillar is Strategic Partnerships. We know that partnering with other organizations, both student-led and university-wide, is vital to our success. We want to collaborate with Carlson faculty and staff to enhance the student experience while also collaborating with student groups and supporting their work.”

JB: “This pillar also means building connections for the students who will continue to be passionate about student government long after we're gone. This will help our long term goals stay active far into the future.”

What initial steps have been taken on these pillars?

JB: “We're figuring out how to host collaborative events with other student organizations. Right now, we are hosting student leadership office hours every other Thursday from 5:30-6:30pm so we can talk about questions they might have and potential collaboration opportunities.”

NV: "We know that in order to properly represent students, we have to hear from them and hear their perspective a lot more frequently. So, we're opening up a Carlson Student Voice Committee, which is essentially a group of students who do not sit on Business Board, but serve as an advisory board for us to bring questions and ideas for feedback.”

How will your previous experiences help you succeed?

NV: “I've been on Business Board’s executive team since my freshman year, so I've been able to see firsthand what type of work we have done in the past and how we've changed over the past few years. I’ve developed close relationships with Carlson staff and faculty at all levels in the undergraduate program. By leveraging these relationships, we're able to partner strategically on new initiatives.”

JB: "I've had to problem-solve and push through a lot of challenges. When I am passionate about something I like to see it through to the end. My past experiences have given me the ability to persevere, and I don't get tired easily when I think that there's something that should be fixed or should be helped.”

What are you most looking forward to in your roles?

NV: “In my first two years on Business Board, I was really trying to figure out what my ‘why’ was. Why am I joining Business Board? Why am I at the Carlson School? What drew me here? Why am I still here? Why do I look forward to coming to school every day? What gets me excited about Carlson, and why do I want to instill that energy to others? That's what I was thinking about in my first two years.

This year is all about supporting everyone else's ‘why’s’. I'm fortunate to be working with a team that is super passionate, super engaged, super experienced, so I want to make sure that everyone's ‘why’ checkbox gets checked this year.”

JB: “The thing that excites me the most is the opportunity to change or make a difference in someone's life. That’s a huge honor to me. With this role in particular, I feel like I have the bandwidth to make big changes that are meaningful to other people, and that's a huge deal to me. I want to be able to help and I want to be able to listen and understand what people need and then fix that problem for them or provide support for them.”

What advice do you have for students on getting involved and managing different responsibilities?

JB: “To simply put it, your involvement is about quality, not quantity. There are so many resources and opportunities around, but that doesn't mean you have to fit them all in. Instead, it’s better to find where you fit. Don’t be afraid of trying something, but also don't be afraid if you don't want to try it again.”

NV: “Play your own game. Everyone in college is playing a different game, and they're doing what it takes to win that game and be successful. If you're not playing the same game, it doesn't matter if you're not doing the same things, so figure out what makes you happy and confident and stick to that.”

Vasilopoulos is a third-year student studying International Business and Marketing, with minors in Spanish Studies, Strategic Management, and Managing People in Organizations. Buenger is a third-year student studying Financial Risk Management and Insurance with a minor in Business Law.