MBA graduate Rebecca Bechtel swimming headfirst into post-UMSL career with job at Deloitte

by | May 20, 2024

Bechtel reached the Great Lakes Valley Conference finals all five of her seasons with the UMSL women's swimming team.
Rebecca Bechtel

Rebecca Bechtel graduated in May with her MBA. (Photo by Derik Holtmann)

Rebecca Bechtel is no stranger to new beginnings and dramatic life changes.

When she came to the University of Missouri–St. Louis to join the women’s swimming team as a freshman, after all, she was moving across the globe, from Cologne, Germany. She went from speaking English one hour a day at school to speaking English all day, every day.

Bechtel didn’t just survive her new reality, she thrived.

“She was part of my second class that I recruited here at UMSL,” Tritons Head Coach Tony Hernandez said. “She was a huge piece of how we wanted to build our program, with the priorities she has, the discipline she has. She has been a model type of teammate we’re looking for, as an athlete but also such a dedicated student.”

This past weekend, Bechtel graduated with her MBA, with an emphasis in marketing, as part of UMSL’s Accelerated Master’s program. In February, she competed in her final events with the UMSL women’s swimming team, at the GLVC championships. In July, after a trip back to Germany to visit with family, she’ll start her new career, as a tax consultant for Deloitte in St. Louis. It’s a series of potentially daunting adjustments, no doubt, but the way she’s approaching this life modification isn’t at all surprising to those who know her best.

She is hitting the ground running, both literally and figuratively, for this new stage in her life.

“I started swimming when I was 9 years old, so it’s been a part of my life for a long, long time,” Bechtel said. “Not swimming for the first time now, it’s kind of exciting, but also sad. I’m starting my life – new sports, trying new things. I just ran a half marathon last weekend. I’m starting new workouts and trying new things.”

With an eight-week training program under her belt, Bechtel ran the Go! St. Louis half-marathon on April 27. Running, obviously, requires a different group of muscles than swimming. But at the basic level, after years of distance freestyle swimming, the endurance was no problem.

Her next step, with Deloitte, is similar. Her MBA emphasis was in marketing, but her new job is as a tax consultant – as was her summer internship at KPMG, back home in Cologne. At the basic level, though, it’s her understanding of fundamental business principles and love of numbers that allows her to flourish in both disciplines.

“I actually was interested in finance and accounting all along, and I was going get my master’s in that area,” she said. “But then I got offered the GA position with Perry Drake in marketing, and I like marketing, too. I just think I’m better with numbers. I like doing math. I like doing accounting. All my finance classes have been fun, so I thought I’d rather work in that field.”

Drake gives his graduate assistants a very hands-on role. Bechtel, who held the GA role from January 2023 through graduation, helped manage the marketing club, and she was instrumental in helping with the lead-up to the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference – which was held this week at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center – including preparing the programs.

“She’s great,” Drake said. “I can’t say enough good things about Rebecca.”

Every year, Drake teaches a course at the University of Applied Sciences in Seinäjoki, Finland, and this past November, he gave Bechtel the opportunity to be his teaching assistant for the class. It was an unforgettable trip.

“We taught a three-day class,” Bechtel said. “We taught all day, every day. We got to experience some of the city of Seinäjoki. It’s in Finland, so it was snowy and cold. It was a really cool experience, getting to see what it’s like to go abroad to teach and getting to see their university.”

Bechtel prepared and taught the section on using Tik Tok as a marketing tool, but the classroom wasn’t her only responsibility. Remember, she was still an UMSL swimmer.

“I sent her workouts, and she found a pool, she found a gym, she did all the workouts she needed,” Hernandez said. “That just speaks to her discipline.”

Bechtel qualified for the GLVC conference finals all five of her seasons swimming for UMSL. At her final conference event, in February, she finished 10th of 36 swimmers in the 1,000-yard freestyle and 13th of 29 in the 1,650-yard freestyle. She also competed with a pair of UMSL relay teams, too. Her brother, Hendrik, just finished his freshman season at UMSL. At the GLVC meet, he was part of the UMSL squad that finished fifth in the 800-yard freestyle relay.

Bechtel connected with UMSL early in the process of choosing a college. The Scholarbook agency helped her explore options, gathering pertinent data – GPA, swimming times, etc. – and preparing highlight clips that were sent to coaches in the United States.

Hernandez was immediately impressed by Bechtel’s grades and interest in pursuing a business degree – he knew UMSL’s strong College of Business Administration would help in the recruiting process – and just as importantly, in the pool. “Times don’t lie,” he said. Hernandez needed someone who could compete in a very competitive conference, so he wasted no time connecting.

“Tony, my coach, he’s actually the one that reached out to me first,” Bechtel said. “I talked to some other schools, but I always kept coming back to UMSL.”

It just so happened that Hernandez and his wife had a trip planned to Europe, including a stop in Cologne, so he got to meet Bechtel and her family on what wound up being an unofficial recruiting trip. That meeting helped Bechtel make the decision to choose UMSL. And being part of Hernandez’s team helped make the transition to the U.S. smoother.

“Right from the first day, I had my team, all people who were here to swim, a bunch of new people that came in with me as a freshman,” Bechtel said. “They’re right there with you from the first day on, and you see them twice a day every day. We live together, so it’s an immediate friend group, an immediate family that is there to support you. That definitely helped a lot. I cannot imagine coming here knowing nobody and just being by myself. That was a big part getting settled so fast, getting integrated and enjoying being here.”

And the discipline of being an athlete, of understanding the importance of staying consistent with her training, Bechtel said, that has helped her juggle all of her UMSL responsibilities.

“I would spend 20 hours a week in the pool and go to school and do all my homework and work as well,” she said. “You need to be on top of everything. I start my day swimming, then I go to class, then I do my homework, then I work in between and then I go back to swimming. You need to know when you’re doing what and stay on top of your deadlines otherwise you’re just not gonna get it done. As athletes, we’re driven to work toward something because that’s part of the sport. You want to be the best you can be, so I think that also translates into the classroom. Every time I take a test, I want to get an A. I think that’s just the ambition, the competitiveness, working hard to get what you want.”

And it’s that ambition, that competitiveness, the innate desire to work hard to get what she wants, that will help make her career as much of a success as her time at UMSL. She enjoyed her college experience so much that she wanted to stay after finishing her MBA.

“I have my life here now,” Bechtel said. “I’ve been here for five years and my friends, they’re almost family to me now. And I really like St. Louis. So if I was going to stay in the U.S., I want to stay close. I was only looking at cities within driving distance of St. Louis. I was also looking in Germany, because my family is far away, and I do want to be closer to them again. But for now, since all of my life is here now, I just decided to stay.”

Ryan Fagan

Ryan Fagan