UofM alumni who have ascended to
The key is being able to say that you don’t know
the pinnacle of the business world
that answer but you are willing to find it. I learned
share invaluable advice drawn from lessons learned in and out of the classroom during their time at the University of Memphis. by Eric Smith The University of Memphis is a proving ground for business leaders, as numerous graduates have
that lesson from one of my advisers. I think the same is in business. If you try to fake your way through a meeting, you come off as disingenuous, which can ultimately sink yourself and maybe your organization as well.
“The key is being able to say that you don’t know that answer but you are willing to find it.”
shown by becoming CEOs of everything from local and regional companies to national and global
Q: How important is networking in business
corporations. How did they reach the top? Several
and how did the UofM promote that when you
of our most successful CEOs discuss what got
were a student and now as an alum?
them to the top and offer advice on how today’s
A: In Washington, D.C., everyone will tell you that
students can harness the University’s offerings in
it is all about networking. Half of the job openings
academics, leadership and networking to begin
here are never posted anywhere; we just talk to
their own rise to the top.
each other about them and often interview people that are recommended. The UofM alumni group here in D.C. does a good job of reaching out to new graduates who now live in D.C. and help them feel connected to the city and the people living here. Q: How can current students maximize their academic, leadership and networking experience at the UofM? A: It is always important to connect with anyone in leadership and I would say connect with people in areas that truly interest you. It’s easy to go to a
Calaneet Balas (MS ’00)
Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Washington, D.C.
lot of events and talk to people, but what is more difficult is to make a real connection and follow up. Insincerity is easy to discern and many people in leadership try to avoid these situations. Those
Q: What UofM class was the most important
who are truly interested in what they are doing —
for building the foundation of your business
not just how to climb to the top or a corner office
career and why?
— will always find a path to success if they reach
A: My time at the UofM as a graduate student was
out to others in the same field.
very important. I think the one lesson that I have
Q: What is your favorite thing to do in
continued to carry forward is being able to admit
Memphis when you’re back?
when I don’t know the answer to a question.
A: The music! You really can’t beat it. I miss being
When defending your thesis, you are inevitably
able to walk outside and hear great music any
thrown a question you don’t know the answer to.
time of the week.
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Wei Chen (IMBA ’98)
Sunshine Enterprise, Memphis Q: What UofM class was the most important for building the foundation of your business career and why? A: Organizational Behavior taught by Dr. Bob Taylor was most important for me as an international student learning U.S. corporate culture. Business is about understanding people and people’s behavior. There is quite a big culture difference between the Americans and the Chinese. The difference is reflected in how the people behave. It is still a learning experience for me while managing American employees. The class laid a strong foundation for me. Q: In what ways did the UofM prepare you to take on a leadership role? A: I was working 20 to 30 hours per week while attending the International MBA program from 1996 to 1998. One of the biggest attributes of leadership is to lead by example. If you are not willing to work hard, it is impossible to become a leader. No one wants to follow a lazy person. Q: How important is networking in business and how did the UofM promote that when you were a student and now as an alum? A: Networking is extremely important in business. Business is about people. If you don’t have a networking skill to build your people connection, it will be hard to build a business or a career.
“One of the biggest attributes of leadership is to lead by example. If you are not willing to work hard, it is impossible to become a leader.” THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS
8/11/15 1:37 PM
The Fall 2015 Magazine of the University of Memphis