Cabot executives offer career advice to management students

By University Communications
October 31, 2014
From left: Chancellor Bob Meyer, alumnus Scott Cabot and dean (COM) Abel Adekola

Photo: From left: Bob Meyer, Scott Cabot and Abel Adekola

Marcia Anderson, standing tall and proud in her military uniform, told a standing-room-only crowd of mostly management students at University of Wisconsin-Stout how far she has come in life.

From a shy little girl born in southern Wisconsin, in Beloit, who grew up in troubled East St. Louis, Ill., she went on to earn a law degree. She also has risen to the rank of major general and is senior adviser to the chief of the U.S. Army Reserve. For the past 2½ years she has worked at the Pentagon.

Far from boasting, Anderson was trying to make a point to students Wednesday, Oct. 29, during the Arthur R. Cabot Executive Residency Program in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. The theme for the 30th annual event was Pathways to Global Success.

“I’m telling you this to give you an idea of what’s possible. It doesn’t matter where you start. It matters where you finish,” said Anderson. “You can be anything you want to be.”

She is the first African-American woman to achieve the rank of major general in the Army, she said.

Anderson and three other executives imparted wisdom they’ve gained in their careers during the morning forum and took questions from the crowd.

Anderson, for example, said joining the Army ROTC program while she was an undergraduate student at Creighton University changed her life. The ROTC taught her how to be a leader. She initially took a military science course only because she needed a science class. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” he said.

UW-Stout offers an ROTC program through its military science department, part of the College of Management.

The other featured executives were Brian Colianni, Ford Motor, Co.; Mark Hubler, Diageo North America; and Rick Pollock, Comprehensive Loss Management Inc.

Colianni told students to embrace detours in their lives because detours create opportunities. “The headlight only shines so far down the road. You don’t know what’s beyond the next curve. Sometimes you just have to go,” said Colianni, who was recruited by Ford right out of UW-Stout in 1979, when he graduated with an industrial education degree.

He has been in sales and marketing with Ford ever since, including working in China, and has risen to senior director of Global Business Strategy for Ford in Dearborn, Mich.

Colianni also told students that emotional intelligence is more important than pure intelligence. He pointed out that promotions go to 95 percent of the people who exhibit strong self-awareness but only to 5 percent of people because they are smart.

Hubler, an Eau Claire native and 1987 UW-Stout graduate, is an executive in the beverage industry with Diageo North America, an $18 billion a year company with 28,000 employees worldwide. His first message to students was caution, telling them to drink responsibly or not at all. “Peer pressure to drink is meaningless as you move on in life,” he said.

He stressed how diversity and social issues have become increasingly important in the business world. Knowledge and skill, paired with passion and enthusiasm, are the keys to success. “You don’t know yet what special quality you have, and when you find it run with it. It will carry you,” he said.

Pollock, a Madison native who went to UW-Whitewater, founded his own company and is past president of the American Society of Safety Engineers. He said technology is quickly changing the world; for example, 35 percent of corporate training is online and all educational materials in South Korea will be online by 2015.

“We need to stay on top of technology. Make personal improvement a goal,” Pollock told students.

The four executives also participated in the Cabot Wall of Honor dedication Tuesday night outside the College of Management offices in Jarvis Hall Tech Wing. In addition, they met with students, faculty and staff throughout the day Wednesday.

The executives represented the four departments in the College of Management: military science; business; hospitality and tourism; and operations and management.

The wall features plaques for all past executives in residence. The wall also includes a photo and plaque dedicated to Arthur R. Cabot, for whom the annual program is named. His son, Scott Cabot, is a 1978 graduate of UW-Stout.

Six former Cabot executives in residence also attended the 30th annual event.