Management Consulting

What does broadcast television have to do with management consulting?

It’s no secret that most organizational inefficiency, frustration and dysfunction arises from poor internal communication.  And Nice Work Productions excels at communicating!  We’ve found the skill set of clean, clear, transparent communication transfers effectively to business environments, fostering buy-in and helping teams coalesce around a single vision.

But our other skill sets apply here too.  Creating high-quality television programs takes more than creativity and a knowledge of TV production—things have to run smoothly to get great programs that are on time and within budget.  And that means you need to have some management chops too.

Jay Nelson has used his well-honed skills in management, internal vision session, client relations and community engagement to transform the University of Michigan’s public TV station WFUM, the Animation and Digital Media Department (now Entertainment Arts) at the College for Creative Studies and led a successful turnaround of the Ann Arbor Film Festival—saving it from possible extinction to boot.  Be sure to check out what people who Jay worked with and for Jay have to say about his ability to transform organizations below.

So no matter what your project, idea or problem may be, we can help you put together a solution that will meet your needs.


Imre Molnar, Dean of the College for Creative Studies

Jay did a fantastic job for us, turning around a department that had seen declining enrollment, fractious relationships between faculty, administration and staff and some significant student dis-satisfaction.  Jay initiated and guided a critical re-thinking of the department’s curriculum, improved communications and decision-making within the department and between the department and the College’s administration, greatly increased student enrollment and actively worked to find a permanent chair both in terms of identifying potential candidates and providing input into the final hiring decision.  Moreover, after the permanent chair was hired, Jay made himself available to his successor on his own time and offered his advice and support during the transition.

Jay made a real difference at CCS and far exceeded my expectations for what an interim chair could accomplish.  I feel he would be a tremendous asset to any organization and I have no hesitation about giving him my highest recommendation.

Bryan Rogers, Dean, The University of Michigan School of Art & Design

The purpose of this letter is to document from my perspective the critical and outstanding work of Jay Nelson with the Ann Arbor Film Festival.  I served on the board of the Ann Arbor Film Festival with Jay from 2004 through January of 2008 and was among those who urged Jay to assume the vacant presidency of the board in August of 2005.

Jay and I served on the AAFF board during a particularly tumultuous time for the organization.  We faced the task of orchestrating the transition of the board from a “hobby” management style to the fully-functioning, professionally run non-profit that exists today.

Due to the dire financial condition of the AAFF when Jay began as president, we considered shutting down the Festival temporarily and even discussed finding another non-profit to take over the AAFF.  We had no full-time staff and little money to pay competitive salaries for the needed new executive director and assistant (combined salaries for the executive director and assistant had been less than $50,000 per year).

Through hard work, persistence and skill, Jay succeeded in leading the board of the AAFF to:

  • Hire a new executive director with the talent and work ethic to take the AAFF through a major transition.
  • Greatly increase fundraising capacity and staff.  By the time Jay left the board, we had an executive director, an assistant and full-time development director who were being paid a combined salary of $130,000 per year plus medical benefits (now there are four full-time staff).
  • Transform the board itself.  Jay took the AAFF board from a culture of inaction, lacking in accountability and credibility to one of connected community professionals, who are fully engaged in the work of keeping the AAFF strong and vital.
  • Navigate the tricky waters of an attack on AAFF’s state funding from an organization that was trying to use the AAFF’s sometimes controversial content to eliminate funding of the arts by the state of Michigan.  Jay not only succeeded in keeping the majority of the state funding, he was able to skillfully leverage the situation to raise more money from individuals and private foundations, and worked with the Michigan ACLU in a successful suit against the state, which resulted in rewriting the arts funding laws in Michigan to remove unconstitutional prohibitions against content.

I am honored to have served in the trenches with Jay through some of the darkest days of the AAFF, days when it seemed like the Festival could not survive.But through Jay’s leadership, the AAFF not only survived, it thrived.

It’s safe to say, that if it weren’t for Jay Nelson’s hard work and managerial skills, the Ann Arbor Film Festival would no longer exist.


Jim Gaver, Media Program Manager, WFUM-Flint

Jay came to Michigan Television at a very low morale point in our history.  Administrative oversight for the station had shifted from the Flint campus of The University of Michigan to the main campus in Ann Arbor.  There was among the staff a great mistrust in what many considered “absentee” management with little concern for the station’s image in mid-Michigan or for the well-being and job security of the local staff at the time.

Jay’s arrival changed that quickly. He immediately built personal relationships within the Flint community, looked to advice and recommendations from long-time staff, and most importantly respected and acted on that advice.  He was able to move ahead with Ann Arbor initiatives while building a trusting and dedicated environment on-site in Flint.  In other words, he did what great managers should spend their time doing—he managed.