A student in the Naveen Jindal School of Management is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in global business because he hopes doing so will help drive his success in a unique career not usually associated with that major.
“My one goal in life is to become a professional race car driver,” said Nicholas (Nikko) Reger, a junior. “That's what I want to do.”
Reger started go-cart racing when he was 9. By age 13 he was in a full-size car — but only on racetracks whose governing bodies permitted him to drive it. He was the Texas Teen Mazda Challenge winner in 2014. Last September, he won the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship and $200,000 that he will invest into the next stage of his career.
Recently, he and his older brother Timo climbed the next rung of the ladder by signing a contract to race in the 2019 IMSA Prototype Challenge, a six-race series that began Jan. 5 at the famed Daytona International Speedway. They placed 10th in that race.
The BS in Global Business degree program is a good fit for him, Reger said, because of the international nature of the racing business, which has manufacturers across the globe. He frequently speaks with engineers from Germany and Japan. He is under contract with Mazda Motorsports, the North American auto racing division of Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer Mazda Motor Corporation.
“A huge part of a race-car driving career is business,” Reger said. “There’s a million different business meetings with so many different companies. Racing is such a unique way of doing business because you’re not necessarily selling a product. I have to be creative and sell my own personal brand instead. The Jindal School is providing me with an education that will help me do that.”
Hubert Zydorek, director of both the BS in Global Business program and the Center for Global Business at the Jindal School, said that the degree will equip Reger to be able to operate with an international mindset that will help him understand different cultures and how they do business, which affects management styles, communication methods and negotiation tactics.
“Culture impacts pretty much every single functional area and competency,” Zydorek said. “Decision making, problem-solving, consensus building — all that stuff is going to be impacted and will require different approaches depending on where in the world one does business.”
By the time Reger earns his degree, Zydorek said, he will be able to step outside his driver’s perspective and better understand how the entire motorsport industry works and the companies within them work.
In addition to his racing pursuits, Reger maintains a full-time academic workload and works part time at clothing retailer J. Crew. He said he plans every minute of every day on a Google calendar. The only reason he can manage such an intense workload, he said, is because “I am very, very passionate about my racing career.”
“I'm here at UT Dallas pushing for not only myself but for the community,” he said. “I personally have a lot of pride here, and I think that we can do great things.”
—Jimmie R. Markham