This story is featured in the Fall 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s Earl N. Phillips School of Business prepares students to become tomorrow’s professionals.
The Earl N. Phillips School of Business mission is simple: “Prepare students to become tomorrow’s business professionals.” It keeps faculty focused on their core goal to help students gain relevant experience and valuable skills. They accomplish this in a variety of ways, both inside and beyond the classroom.
Faculty use every opportunity to inspire students to embark on a program of self-improvement and analysis known as the 3D Experience: Discovery. Differentiation. Direction.
Before students can forge successful careers, they must first discover the many avenues and opportunities available to them. The Phillips School of Business opens that door of discovery in many different ways.
One is the PSB Speaker Series. Business students are exposed to all kinds of tremendously successful people with great stories to tell. The theme is always to teach students about the career paths and how to handle the curves and opportunities that life may bring.
The series, which comprises 18 events, each one featuring a renowned business professional, has reached over 2,500 attendees.
The speaker list is composed of successful CEOs, CFOs, corporate VPs and co-founders from a variety of business backgrounds.
Another means of discovery comes from the classroom, including a freshman course titled, Introduction to Business Careers. For the students who know they want a career in business but can’t decide which specific path to follow, this class explores many options.
Once students have discovered the path they wish to pursue, they turn their focus to differentiating themselves with unique skills and talents.
PSB has established a number of ways for students to gain crucial experience and skills that are necessary to stand out in the workforce, and faculty are always adding more.
This past year, a four-week professional selling module was added to the business core curriculum. Now, every business major and minor will be taught the technical skills to sell and the skills of persuasion.
Their leader? Professor Larry Quinn, who worked for decades in the corporate world as a national sales training manager at Xerox and vice president of sales and marketing at Thomson Professional Publishing Group and Duplex Printing Corp.
Today, Quinn chairs the Department of Marketing and Sales at HPU’s Earl N. Phillips School of Business.
Quinn was a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving as an aircraft commander and instructor pilot. Though he forged a successful business career as a top corporate executive after his military service, it’s his time spent in the Navy that Quinn draws on often when teaching HPU students the most crucial aspect of selling.
“When I was in the Navy, I would take new pilots up in a jet, just the two of us with me sitting behind them, and teach them how to land on a carrier,” says Quinn. “The jets were big, noisy and bumpy. And, there’d be a carrier below us that looked to be the size of a postage stamp. I could feel them shaking as they held the control stick and prepared to steer.”
Quinn, sitting behind his student, would also have a means of steering the aircraft. He would tell the newcomer to let go and allow him to take over. Relaxing under his guidance, Quinn would land the plane.
Then it was the student’s turn.
“I’d reach over their seat and put my hand on their shoulder. They’d be shaking again,” says Quinn. “I’d say, ‘Okay, now you try it. Let’s do this again.’”
The student would continue to shake.
Quinn, knowing the nerves and anxiety were high, would offer feedback and encouragement.
“Listen, you were great. You handle this well. You could improve on that. Maybe adjust here. You can do this.”
They’d take off. The student would land. Ten more rounds of landing, and they’d have the trick of it.
“It’s kind of my thing,” says Quinn. “I like to take fear and anxiety and turn it into bravery. That’s why I love this job. I do the exact same thing every day with my HPU students. As long as they can overcome that initial fear and find their self-confidence, they can sell themselves.
“It’s this ability — the process of turning fear into bravery — that sets HPU business majors apart,” says Quinn. “Their confidence and the practiced art of selling themselves differentiates them in a competitive marketplace.”
And while Quinn no longer trains Navy pilots, he still makes use of an airplane.
It won’t be found in a hangar or on an aircraft carrier. No, instead it’s located just feet from Quinn’s office inside Cottrell Hall.
The International Student Concourse anchors the building’s international theme. Most notably, it boasts the airplane fuselage — a profile of a plane’s interior complete with power outlets for laptops, overhead storage, reclining seats and inspirational quotes that scroll through the windows of the plane.
Why a plane?
The intentional design creates a space where HPU students can practice their social skills, harnessing their ability to sell themselves to a stranger when one takes a seat across the aisle.
“We installed these seats, because they aren’t just airline seats,” says Quinn. “They’re another sales call. Well, I call it a relationship call because you have to sell yourself before you sell anything else.”
Students use the plane as a setting to practice the skills they are taught in the classroom or the various business clubs. For instance, the Selling Club.
Quinn is the founding advisor of the Selling Club with Professor Randy Moser. Since it’s creation in 2013, the c
lub has grown from three members to over 230.
Each semester, the club sponsors a speed dating-style meeting between students and local executives. Six business professionals are placed in a room while HPU students circulate among them for two-minute rounds of conversation.
In those two minutes, the professionals will instruct the students to tell them about themselves.
By the time students reach their sixth professional, they have perfected the art of pitching themselves in a short amount of time.
The next day, the students take part in a career fair, where they are excited and ready to communicate with potential employers thanks to the practice they received the previous day.
“HPU’s sales program and PSB Selling Club have done so much to help me get where I am today,” says Class of 2017 graduate Alex Smolan.
Smolan began his career with Amica Mutual Insurance as an account manager after landing the job months ahead of his May graduation.
“Professors Quinn and Moser give you the tools that you need to reach your full potential,” he says. “They help you grow and find success so that you are able to land your dream job. Their end goal is to get all of their students jobs by graduation, and they really stick to that with all of the opportunities that they provide.”
The final step for business majors: choose their direction.
Once students have acquired the skills necessary to stand out in a competitive marketplace, they often ask experienced faculty to help channel their talents in the right direction.
For Ben Lonza, that professor was Kathy Elliott, assistant professor of the practice of entrepreneurship.
Lonza graduated in the spring with a degree in business administration and immediately put it to use as the owner and manager of his own restaurant, 1st Ave Pizza in New Jersey.
The young entrepreneur credits Elliott for his success.
“Professor Elliott was one of my biggest inspirations to pursue a career as a business owner,” says Lonza. “With an incredible amount of knowledge and experience, Professor Elliott guided me through the process of purchasing 1st Avenue Pizza. I can say with confidence that I would not be in the position I am in today if not for the never-ending aid and support I received from her.”
And sometimes, students find guidance from not just one professor, but an entire department.
“The accounting department as a whole has definitely shaped me into the person I am today. Specifically Professors George Noxon and Scott Davis. They have been the most impactful in my life,” says Kristine Faxlanger, a 2017 graduate and financial analyst for Datto, a data protection agency. “They gave me great guidance and advice that led me to where I am today. I know their wisdom will stick with me for years to come and help me in the decisions I make in the future.”
View this story and more in the Fall 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine: