Whether it be freshman business students preparing their first business plan in the New Venture challenge, successful entrepreneurs speaking to classes or diplomats arranging official visits in foreign countries, Baylor Business programs from undergraduate to EMBA thrive thanks to the expertise and support of fellow bears across the country.
Alumni and friends of the Hankamer School of Business continue to come back to campus throughout the year to participate as judges, guest speakers, serve on advisory boards and orchestrate networking and internship opportunities for students. Every bear backer has his or her own reasons for giving back to the current crop, though most have two things in common: their love for Baylor and their wish for current students to become successful.
“Baylor was obviously a critical enabler of my career and success,” says David Cargile, BBA 1992, currently a director at Protiviti in Dallas. “By providing my time to the programs there, I hope to contribute to not only the success of new students each year, but also to the programs overall as Baylor continues to advance the Business School.”
Elizabeth P. King, BBA 1989, Partner – Audit and Enterprise Risk Services for Deloitte & Touche in Houston, echoes that sentiment saying her participation on the Accounting & Business Law Department Advisory Board is, “just a part of supporting an organization that was a big part of personal development.”
Justin Kettler, BBA Marketing 1999, who is now Regional Sales Manager for Capital One Auto Finance in Dallas, says his green and gold pride brought him back to Baylor. “In addition, the New Venture Challenge had yet to come to fruition when I was a freshman 12 years ago. Upon hearing about the program, I was highly interested in participating, and have increased my business acumen through my participation as a judge. These students have taught me a thing or two about business plans.”
“Baylor is a very special place to me – I value the education I received at Baylor and the dedication of the professors who invested in me,” says Vicki E. Lytle, BBA 1978, MPA 1979, senior manager for Ernst & Young LLP, in Houston. “Most importantly, I value the Baylor environment where faith is nurtured and developed. Equipping students to be successful business people is important but preparing them to be witnesses in all aspects of their lives is key. Having the opportunity to give back to the students and to Baylor is a blessing.”
Alex BeMent, BA 2003, sales manager for Worldwide Express in Houston, uses her time judging the New Venture Challenge and acting as a buyer in professional sales classes as a time to encourage students who are interested in a career in professional sales and spend a little quality time with her dad.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for both Dr. Tanner and Dr. Chonko I thought acting as a buyer for Dr. Tanner might be a good way to meet college students who were interested in a career in professional sales, and also help out a guy who encouraged me to consider sales as a career, which has turned out to be the right call for me. With my schedule in Houston, the New Venture Challenge is something I can do with my father. We have the whole ride up from Houston in the morning to visit, and then the whole ride home later that afternoon.”
A lot of times, spending time with executives and professionals through competitions, trips and projects proves valuable to students when they enter the workforce.
” At Capital One Auto Finance, I hired two recent Baylor graduates, who have since moved up within our sales organization,” Kettler says. “I am currently looking to hire a sales representative for my Central Texas market and am recruiting through the alumni organization.”
“During the spring semester of 2006, I had the opportunity to mentor an accounting student prior to the time she participated in interviews for an internship,”says Lytle. “We emailed and had telephone conversations for several months before we met in person. When we finally met on campus at an accounting department event, I felt like I was greeting a friend rather than meeting someone for the first time. While our discussions were always about career options and not about any particular company, I had the added bonus when she let me know she accepted an internship with my firm. Hopefully I was able to demonstrate characteristics that she wanted from an employer.”
Hiring new graduates isn’t the only reward that comes to fruition after visiting classes. “The greatest reward has been students who indicate their appreciation for knowledge and experiences shared with them,” says Cargile. “I recognize that when I was in school, there were a lot of things I didn’t realize about potential careers and I really enjoy it when I’m able to share some of those thoughts with students. The other thing I would point to is that their excitement is contagious. On multiple occasions, I found that talking with students and hearing what they’re looking forward to and what they’re curious about re-energizes me and reinforces my passion for my career and my alma matter.”
Baylor Business faculty and students are very appreciative of the sacrifices that are made by volunteers. As with most professionals the biggest challenge is clearing a busy schedule.
King speaks for the group when she says “at this point in my life time is my most challenging commodity.”
Bears who back bears are obviously passionate about their careers and helping the next generation get their foot in the door.
Lytle’s advice for young professionals is “don’t forget who you are and whose you are. Don’t allow individuals or circumstances to compromise your values, your integrity, your faith or your witness.”
BeMent encourages new graduates to get as many interviews under your belt as you can. “You’ll have a much better perspective from which to evaluate your opportunities. Remember you’re interviewing for entry level positions. Take a job where you can enjoy the fundamentals of the position, where you like the people, and upward mobility is a real opportunity based on your performance. Should you only work for a company for a year or two starting out, will you ultimately be more marketable as a result? Get hooked up with a few recruiters that specialize in placing candidates in the field that interests you.”.
“Make yourself vulnerable to learning,” advises Kettler. “This involves asking questions, observing more than talking, acknowledging what you don’t know, understanding mistakes will be made, and accepting critical feedback without offense or disagreement. Self awareness and humility will go a long way, especially during one’s first year on the job.”
Cargile wants students to understand the variety of career options available. “The directions you can go with a Business degree are almost limitless, and while there are always some obvious choices for career path, don’t forget about some of the less common paths. Find out what you really enjoy doing and look for a way to make your education serve you there.”
King simply says to “focus early on your network development.”
Although they have a lot to teach students about what it takes to make it in the business world, our volunteers also feel the students have something to teach them. For some, working with students provides new perspectives and fresh insights. For others, it gives them a faith in the future of business.
“Every year I continue to be impressed with how much more the students are doing during their time at Baylor – team projects, competitions, research activities, client engagements, educational trips, etc. Their preparation and zeal for success are amazing,” says Cargile.
But for some, it gives them insight in their own lives.
“An effective leader knows he or she does not have all the answers, and leverages the strengths his or her peers and associates to achieve results,” says Kettler. “Working with the students has reinforced the importance of how teamwork, identifying strengths, and delegating is essential to completing any monumental task, including the completion of their monumental New Venture Challenge project.”
“It’s personally rewarding to get involved,” BeMent said. “I’ve learned how much I’ve changed in the short span of time since I was a student, and how much more is yet to be learned.”
Baylor Business Review, Spring 2007