Business professionals gave UCA alumni career advice at the first lecture in the Young Alumni Series held at 5:30 p.m. on March 30 at UCA Downtown. The UCA Alumni Association and the Young Alumni chapter hosted the event.
Director of Alumni Relations Jesse Thill said the Young Alumni series was started to give recent alumni more attention and “engage them in a meaningful way.”
Several speakers participated in the lecture, which was divided into two panels on different topics pertaining to young business professionals. Bunny Adcock, Vice Chairman of HomeBanc shares; Patti Clauss, Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition for Williams-Sonoma and Melissa Matheny, Vice President of Consumer Group, Sales and Account Management for Acxiom led the first panel on Your Career Today. Each speaker spoke about his career and how he got his current position.
Matheny, who has worked 18 years at Acxiom and held nine different positions within the company, said young professionals shouldn’t hold themselves back from working hard.
“Don’t wait to be asked to do something,” she said.
Clauss, who works in human resources at Williams-Sonoma, highlighted the importance of the human side of business.
“It’s all about the relationships,” she said.
After each panelist spoke to the crowd about his career and what he learned from it, attendees asked the speakers their own questions.
For the second part of the event, Erik Sward, owner of Bell & Sward Gentleman’s Clothier, and Erin Hohnbaum, owner of E. Leigh’s Contemporary Boutique, spoke about professional image. Sward and Hohnbaum are both local business owners, with shops located steps away from the UCA Downtown location.
Sward and Hohnbaum spoke about the importance of appearing professional in the workplace for both men and women.
Hohnbaum said she started her store so that she could sell clothes that girls her age could wear to work and then out for the night. She gave specific style advice to the women in the audience, recommending that they try neutrals other than black and that they retain their own personal style even when being professional.
“Don’t be afraid to add what I call a ‘pop’ to your professionalism,” Hohnbaum said.
She said men and women should pay attention to all aspects of their look to make sure they’re giving the right impression.
“Pay attention to the details,” she said.
Hohnbaum and Sward spoke about treating professional clothes and accessories as investments. Hohnbaum recommended that buyers spend more money on an item and take care of it so that it can last for a long time.
“No one knows that you’ve had those pairs of shoes for six years because you’ve kept up with them,” she said. “It’s not about having to buy super expensive things. It’s about keeping the things that you do have fresh and nice.”
Sward said the most important thing for professional men is to have a suit that fits. He said he can tell if a suit fits from the shoulders: if the shoulders stick out, it doesn’t fit.
He cautioned attendees against spending money without paying attention to what they were buying.
“Money does not mean it looks great,” he said. “Find something that fits.”
Hohnbaum’s final style tip wasn’t about fit, but about attitude. “Pay attention to what you feel good in,” she said. “No amount of style tips will replace your own confidence.”