Panel of local leaders advise College of Business students
: Leaders in the Little Rock business community arrived early to the UALR College of Business on Thursday, Feb. 6 to greet a group of students slowly trickling into their seats, coffee in hand.
Lecture with the Leaders is an event planned each semester to give students the opportunity to hear from successful businessmen and women. Included in the panel this semester was Chris Smith of Circumference Group, Monserrat Flores of Golden Eagle Distributors, Frank Scott, Jr. of First Security Bank, and Stephen Northington of Northington Insurance Group.
The moderator for this semester was special guest Roby Brock, Executive Producer and Host of Talk Business Arkansas. He guided the questions and conversations between students and panelists. Talk Business Arkansas is a multimedia broadcast and magazine that regularly features business leaders in the state.
“How does someone get a foot in the door in your industry?” Brock asked.
Northington was the first to respond saying, “In my industry [wealth management] you have to get licensed. From there, get to know older advisors that are retiring with no exit strategy. Find a mentor in a mature business, get to know them, and be in a position to take over when he or she retires.”
Flores, or “Monty” as her colleagues know her, had more to say on getting your foot in the door. “Keep studying. Every organization has managers, but we need leaders. Keep working, keep studying, keep doing research. That’s what leaders do.”
One panelist used the question as an opportunity to drive home a major point about storytelling.
“I look for your life story, education story, and experience story,” Smith said. “What is your sweet spot? It’s your passion, or what you enjoy doing. Pursue that with as much aggression as you can, and in a professional way. I look for quality, aggressiveness, and attention to detail. But, I want to know what you are really good at, not what you think you are good at.”
The next question was from an audience member, who asked, “How would you suggest opening relationships with business people?”
Scott had an answer that was all-to-relevant in a town the size of Little Rock. “People are always watching. There’s a lot of ways you can leverage a relationship. But, be genuine. If it’s a real relationship, you won’t have to leverage it,” he said.
One panelist focused on service. “What I like to see is people take on the motto of Rotary International: service above self. Work beside those individuals you want to have a relationship in a setting where they know you enjoy giving back,” Northington added.
Among so many things to do, Brock wanted to dig deeper to find out what students should not do. The panelists provided some anecdotes describing mistakes to avoid.
Smith said, “Don’t be thinking, ‘I should be CEO when I walk out of college.’ You will have to pay your dues, make sacrifices, and work hard. You can never stop learning. Also, don’t think ‘I can control it all and don’t need to rely on people.’”
Flores added, “I used to think, I want to change people’s behavior and them to be perfect. I wanted to be perfect! Don’t be hard on yourself. Focus on what you do best, or your sweet spot like Chris said.”