Starting Out in Business? UTD Grads’ Words of Wisdom Could Fill a Book

Advice on how to succeed in business from Vik Thapar, Dustin Gadberry, Heidi Rasmussen and other alumni of The University of Texas at Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management


Alumni of The University of Texas at Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management can offer as much good information about being successful in business as any college textbook.

Here’s a look at the pearls of wisdom they shared with us when we asked a few of them to answer this question:

What advice do you have for those hoping to succeed in the business world?

Matthew ThompsonMatthew A. Thompson
Automation marketing manager at StructuredWeb (B.S., 2012) 

“Always be prepared for opportunity. It will often come from people, places, and situations you least expect.” 

Dustin GadberryDustin Gadberry
CEO of Gadberry Construction Co. (B.S., 2007)

“I have five simple pieces of advice:
1. Network. 2. Get a mentor. 3. Network. 4. Get another mentor. 5. Network.” 

Shakeya McDow
Senior manager at Ernst & Young. (IAEP certificate, 2006)

Make decisions based on today. When you get caught up in the ‘what if game,’ you aren’t able to focus on the present. You have to be present to be open to and receive what is offered to you. Regardless, if you are sweeping a floor, entering data, or running a Fortune 500 company, you have to give 100 percent of yourself. I say 100 percent and not 110 percent because I only have 100 percent of myself to give.  You have to know when to turn it off and relax! My ‘aha moment’ in life came when I heard a quote by Joel Osteen, ‘Don’t get so caught up in the destination that you miss the miracles along the way.’  We are all overachievers, and our culture feeds on that. Learn to appreciate each day.” 

Marla Wilkerson
Partner, New York Life Insurance Co. (M.S., 2005) 

“Be flexible and learn to control the controllable.Things change. Get over it.”   

Vik Thapar
Principal, Cypress Growth Capital. (B.S., 2000) 

“Network, network, network. Always be meeting new people and learning from them. It is critical to stay relevant in the ever-changing world of business. I have known people who had great jobs and stopped networking only to have to build their network again from scratch when it came time to find another job. Also, if you become a successful entrepreneur, keep meeting with future entrepreneurs. Always try to help the next generation.” 

Bob Lockett
Sr. VP, human resources at Harland Clarke Holdings. (MBA, 1999)

“Take risks. Learn new things, get out of your comfort zone, and move to different places. Once you experience the world from other perspectives, it will change your thinking and your behavior. Work for great ‘academy’ companies and build your brand by working hard and delivering exceptional results. Also, remember you will make mistakes and will fail. Keep striving for excellence.”

Heidi Rasmussen
Co-founder, and COO, at Freshbenies. (B.S., 1992)

“Work hard and don’t do anything halfway — do everything to the best of your ability. If you start a job, finish it. If you told someone you’d do something, do it. If you do all that and mistakes happen, you can put your head on the pillow at night knowing you gave it your all. Then, learn from your mistakes, give yourself a break, and move on quickly!” 

Steven P. Nelson,
President/owner of Jan-Pro of Austin, formerly with Freescale. (MBA, 1989)

“Try as many things as you can. Look for opportunities to work in different areas so you can learn what makes different businesses successful. A career is not a straight path, but something that weaves around in unexpected ways.”

Follow UT Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management on Twitter @jindal_utdallas.

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