2019 Best & Brightest: Nika Noun, Brigham Young University (Marriott)

Nika Noun

Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Business

Fun fact about yourself: I own a Honda Nighthawk (motorcycle) named Barb. It’s named after my eighty-one-year old friend, Barbara, who lives across the street from me.

Hometown: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

High School: Cambodia Adventist School

Major: Finance, emphasis in real estate investment

Minor: None

Favorite Business Course: Principles of Finance, Money; banking and business, Corporate Financial Reporting

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles during College Intramural sports (dodgeball, volleyball, soccer), volunteered at food banks and the food coalition, member of Women in Business Club

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Dell Technologies, Austin, Texas; financial analyst
  • Cushman & Wakefield, Salt Lake City; brokerage, real estate intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to Dell, where I will be working full-time as a financial analyst and participate in Dell’s rotational program for 2 years.

What company do you admire most? Dell Technologies: what I love about Dell is its values—such as integrity, winning together (trust and value its employees), and giving back to the community—align well with my beliefs.

Who is your favorite professor? I love all my professors at BYU, especially at BYU Marriott. However, if I have to pick one person, it would have to be Colby Wight. I’ve actually never taken Colby’s classes, but from the interaction that I have had with him through my Junior Core and through my time here at BYU, I admire his passion for education, his vision, and the wonderful speeches that he has given. His speeches have kept me motivated to work hard and believe that I can be successful here as a student and in my future career.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? Networking with and lectures from top executives, as well as interactions with peers and professors.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? I’ve learned that my skills and talents are unique and that others need my unique skills and talents. I’ve also learned that networking is the gateway that allows me to pitch my talents and skills. Everyone has a talent and an important role. It’s easy to feel intimidated, but everyone has value. There is something unique about you that others don’t have, so learn how to leverage it.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Do well in your courses, get connected with all of the faculty members for the major you are interested in, talk with people in the field you’re interested in, and start finding internships.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? There are so many opportunities in the business field—more than you realize. Also, the business school is competitive and seems intimidating, but actually no one totally knows what they are doing, much like we don’t have a sure knowledge of what the markets will be tomorrow.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…culinary arts. For sure.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My grandfather. He taught me that you can be honest in business and use your resources to give back to others. My grandpa is not my biological grandpa. He met me in Cambodia when he and his wife were on their church service mission thirteen years ago. They noticed my brother, my sister, and me going to church without parents and wondered where our parents were. We instantly connected and knew we were meant to meet. They have supported my siblings and me—and so many others—since then. Because of their example, I also want to make money so that I can give back to others.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? With so many struggles and challenges focusing in class, I dropped out of school multiple times growing up. I never thought I would make it to college. For me, finishing college is a big deal and a significant personal achievement.

Which classmate do you most admire? Christina Wu. Christina is funny, works hard, and has motivated me to keep going. She isn’t in my major, but we took pre-business classes together, and she has been a tremendous support.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My older sister, Chan, is one of the people I’m most thankful for. After my parents left us, when she was eighteen, she gave up her scholarship to raise me and my brother. Her sacrifice and example motivated me to go to school because I felt terrible that she had given up her college experience.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Skydiving in Dubai
  2. Backpacking across Europe and Africa

What are your hobbies? Dirt biking, playing volleyball and Spikeball, traveling, cooking, finding good deals

What made Nika such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Nika’s example and influence in our program have been substantial. It is the common plight nearly all finance majors to experience the crushing weight of the competitive forces and pressures endemic to our industry. Nika has proven to be a beacon of positivity and encouragement to her fellow students. Her infectious optimism and positivity have served as a therapeutic balm for many of her classmates. Further, the odds she has overcome and the obstacles she has surmounted to come to BYU, graduate from our major, and land a job with Dell are nothing short of inspiring. If our students ever wonder whether they have the mettle to make it in this program or this industry, they look to Nika as a model.”

Colby Wright
BYU Marriott Associate Professor of Finance

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.