Forthcoming business symposiums at Pfeiffer University may be presented via Zoom, even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
So says Dr. Sandra Holley, the principal organizer of this year’s event, called “School of Business Spring Symposium 5.0: Finding Your Own Path,” which took place on Feb. 15 and 16.
“We’re considering moving future symposiums to a virtual format,” said Holley, an Associate Professor of Accounting at Pfeiffer. “Because the spring symposium was presented via Zoom, we lost something, in terms of making human connections. However, we more than made up for it in our ability to widen the net of guest speakers and student participants.”
The speakers, who included several Pfeiffer alumni, came from a wide variety of fields. Each made presentations from a home or work office – thus negating the need to come to Pfeiffer’s Misenheimer campus, which can be prohibitively difficult.
Each speaker illuminated his or her career path. And each suggested ways that the students could find their own path by volunteering, learning new skills, and seeking help when employers ask you to take on work with which you’re unfamiliar.
The first day’s speakers included Brenda Compton Lech ’90, a Cloud Identity Content Manager at IBM; Lindsey Suggs, who has over 20 years of experience in international development work; and Jennifer Carter Moxley ’98, who held positions in journalism and other fields before founding Sunshine Media Network.
Also in the speaker lineup on Feb. 15 were Cory Pooley ’14 and Dr. Jimmy Flores, who has held leadership positions at Shell Oil Company, The Prudential and USAA, for which he managed the IT department’s $11.5 million budget.
Pooley, who was recently profiled in Pfeiffer’s Forever Falcons newsletter, landed two summer internships and a full-time job at the CIA before joining Cisco Stealthwatch Professional Services, where he has been working as a manager in various project and service-delivery roles since 2016.
Jimmy Molina ’14, ’16 MBA, ’19 MSL was the first of several speakers on Feb. 16. He’s a VP Commercial Lending Officer at Community First Bank – SC, and he’s a co-owner of The Local Room, a restaurant that opened this past October in Locust, N.C. Other second-day speakers included Thomas Hall ’97, ’16 MHA, the Director of Operations for the Charlotte-based Haitian Heritage & Friends of Haiti, and Diana Reynolds-Knox ’89. After earning her Bachelor of Science in accounting from Pfeiffer, Reynolds-Knox became a CPA in 1994 and now leads a 500-member financial crimes operations team at Wells Fargo.
The symposium-concluding speaker was Dr. Susan Luck ’02 MBA, an MBA Professor of Communications at Pfeiffer’s Charlotte campus.
As was the case with past symposiums, “Finding Your Own Path” required majors in Pfeiffer’s School of Business to attend. But this year, its audience also included students from Pfeiffer’s nursing program and from Pfeiffer’s online, Charlotte-based programs for master’s degrees in Health Administration, Business Administration, and Financial Fraud Investigations.
Holley called the presentations of “Finding Your Own Path” an effective response to the pandemic-caused drop in internships.
“We gave students an opportunity to attend a conference and the ability to network – all of our speakers either gave students an email address and/or encouraged our students to connect with them on LinkedIn,” she said. “We also provided students with insights from industry leaders on career paths and career options. This was particularly helpful to them, since the pandemic may force them to approach the workplace differently.”
The students who tuned into the symposium took away a great deal from the speakers’ insights.
Bryson Gray ’21 of Concord, N.C. is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. One of the key points in Luck’s talk resonated with Gray, who now envisions obtaining either a Master of Business Administration degree or a Master of Science in Leadership.
“In the past, I limited myself because I wasn’t any good in math,” he said. “Dr. Luck was saying, ‘Don’t let that stop you from pursuing an MBA or an MSL.’”
Toni Newton ’24, a nursing major from Charlotte, benefitted from Molina’s insights. Molina encouraged students not to continue in a job you don’t like and cautioned that they should never accept an offer for a job that’s not a good fit.
Molina also stressed the importance of networking.
“You have to get out of your comfort zone to be able to network,” Newton recalls him saying. “It’s scary, but you have to put yourself out there.”
Ken Keuffel, who authored this article, has served as Pfeiffer’s Assistant Director of Communications since December 2019. He welcomes story ideas from Pfeiffer’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. The form for submitting story ideas is at www.pfeiffer.edu/newsform.