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June 1, 2015

Executives Talk Career Success and Emerging Opportunities

Biz Talks is projected onto a giant screen in Harlen Adams Theatre
Biz Talks 2015

The President of global sales for Blackberry was hired specifically because he’s adept at finding and creating new business opportunities, so when John Sims articulated career success factors for the hundreds of students attending Biz Talks, they listened carefully. On April 30 the College of Business and Delta Sigma Pi co-hosted more than a dozen successful executives for a rapid download of seasoned advice.

Sims described four elements that contribute to a successful career journey and upward mobility. First, while graduates should maximize the value of their academic foundation, it is even more important to diversify their knowledge in the workplace. Sims suggests understanding all aspects of the company you work for. Be open to the chance to build cross-functional expertise because ongoing learning adds to your value as an employee.

Next, find one of the biggest challenges plaguing your company and be a part of the solution team. This is a great way to acquire skills and advance a career because you become known as a fixer. Third, be bold. Don’t allow the fear of failure to prevent you from taking big steps, because it is even more important to know how to get back up after being knocked down, and then move on to the next thing. Lastly, students were encouraged to find mentors throughout their careers so they can model the habits of successful leaders and seek trusted advice at key junctures.

Biz Talks offered a series of executive vignettes—each presentation was conducted in a ‘TED Talk’ format—and speakers were asked to present ideas spanning arenas such as entrepreneurship, finance, accounting, sales and marketing to help students get focused on their goals and find the right career path.

Besides offering basic career growth strategies, visiting execs shared insights into some of the emerging opportunity areas. Scott Hanson (BS, Business Administration, ‘90), CEO of Hanson McClain, offered his perspective on the financial industry. He highlighted job growth in the area of personal finance due to rising demand for services from baby boomers, the fact that most advisors will retire soon themselves, the need for higher quality and trusted talent in the field and the small percentage of female advisors in an industry that would surely benefit from more women filling the role.

Chris Friedland (BA, Political Science, ‘99), CEO of Build.com, challenged students to break the mold and start their own businesses, citing his own experience with launching and selling a multimillion dollar company, while Colleen Winter, CEO of Lulus.com, emphasized the power of forward thinking marketing approaches in her online business. These talks—and many other guest lectures that happened during the concurrent “Professor for a Day” event—grabbed the attention of College of Business students. Likewise, alumni relished the opportunity to be back on campus and relive their university days.

“I always make it a priority to visit my old apartment on Nord when I come back,” said alumnus Prabhakar Kalavacherla (MS, Business Administration, ‘93), a partner at KPMG in San Francisco.

The College of Business is on the hunt for the next group of alumni business leaders who can offer their wisdom in the classroom. Watch some of the Biz Talks online and learn more about Professor for a Day—and then please get in touch if you have an interest in supporting these events in the future.  

2015 Biz Talks Lectures