Outstanding Marketing Award recipient ready to ‘hit the pavement’

When Cliff Haney graduated from high school, he didn’t plan on going to college. He wanted to start working right away.

“I thought I was going to hit the pavement and make my fortune selling real estate,” he said. “I didn’t know that pavement was actually going to hit me. As it turns out, people who are making the biggest investment of their lives, don’t really trust an 18-year-old to handle such a large transaction.”

Rejection – and the realization that business skills could help him better succeed – eventually led him to UA Little Rock. He will graduate on May 12 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and a Professional Sales Certification.

Haney is also the recipient of the 2018 College of Business Outstanding Marketing Student Award, which he received Friday, April 27, in a ceremony at the College of Business.

“It has been an amazing experience working with Cliff,” said Dr. Lenita Davis, chair of the Department of Marketing and Advertising. “He is very competitive and always strives to do his best and to be the best. Everyone in the college is familiar with Cliff’s drive and spirit of excellence and recognize him as being a leader.”

The award was all the more special to Haney because his grandfather, Eddie Langford of Maumelle, received the College of Business’ first Outstanding Marketing Student Award in 1985 and was at the award presentation.

Haney credits his grandfather with being his lifelong mentor. Langford dropped out of school in 8th grade and went to work putting up ceiling tiles. At age 34, though, he injured his back and couldn’t do the physically demanding work. He enrolled at UA Little Rock to learn skills that could help him earn a living. He chose business, and when he left UA Little Rock, he went back to work, selling ceiling tiles and later was part owner of an acoustical supply business.

Haney points to the S-shaped silver acoustical panels that hang from the ceiling of the College of Business atrium.

“See those,” Haney said. “My grandfather designed, built, and installed those.”

Haney has a work ethic like this grandfather. After he graduated from North Little Rock High School in 2012, he got his real estate license and was ready to work, but he quickly discovered that selling was tougher than he expected.

“I’d never faced rejection before, but I was facing  rejection on a daily basis,” Haney said. “I had to learn how to overcome that.”

He enrolled at UA -Pulaski Technical College in 2014 and earned his Associate of Science in Business in 2016.

“I paid for my first semester, and after that, I applied for so many scholarships that I’ve gotten paid to go to school ever since,” he said.

With high grades, he received the Shelby Breedlove transfer scholarship to UA Little Rock that sealed the deal.

“When I came here, I had two goals: make good grades and save money,” he said.

Shannon Gwinn, director of the Center for Student and Career Services, persuaded Haney to see the bigger picture.

“She encouraged me to get involved with groups and really got me plugged in,” he said. “It was about building a network, about building relationships with professors. They all had successful corporate careers before they came here, and they have taught me lessons that I don’t have to learn the hard way.”

Haney is an Ambassador for the College of Business and the first student member of the UA Little Rock Sales Board. He’s co-president of the Student Marketing Association and vice president of Phi Beta Lambda, the college-level organization of Future Business Leaders of America. He will travel to the national Phi Beta Lambda conference in June to complete in the interview competition.

Since August 2017, Haney has been the coordinator of the State Farm Business Skills Lab, a place where student learn effective communication skills.

“Students come in and we’ll role play job interviews, sales pitches, presentations, and speeches. We record it, review it, and find ways to improve,” Haney said. Seeing it on camera makes students aware of their gestures, body language, speed of delivery and other things that could be distracting to the listeners – and potential customers.

Earlier in April, he competed in the “Sold in 60 Seconds” competition, winning second place and  $500.

Last summer, he lived in London, England, and worked for Purple Hound, developing an app for people with disabilities to use to locate accessible buildings. He also traveled to Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris and Switzerland. Working and traveling abroad also led him to a realization – that Central Arkansas is home and where he wants to work.

“Growing up in North Little Rock, I always wanted to go somewhere bigger,” he said. “I did that. I went to London. I missed family, friends, and the sense of community. I want to stay here and help grow Little Rock into what it can be.”

For now, graduate school isn’t in his future plans. A job in sales or sales training is calling him, and he’s once again ready to work.

“I’m ready to get out there and hit the pavement once again.”

 

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