“Inspired to Lead” Alumni Mentors Inspire Breech Students to Succeed

In 2009, junior Breech student Grant Bowden attended a Breech Hall of Fame induction ceremony for esteemed MBA alumnus, Bill Ricketts.  Grant watched as Mr. Ricketts accepted his award, which honored him for his reputation in leadership development and entrepreneurial skills.  Inspired by the honoree's address, which detailed his experiences as a Drury Board of Trustee as well as his roles as president for several other organizations, Grant decided to introduce himself at the end of the evening.

This meeting and initial conversation built a connection between Bill and Grant.  They met periodically over the next two years, sharing many discussions about career and personal development.  Grant, now a marketing manager at Shopper Events, remembers those discussions well.  Grant recalls, “Mr. Ricketts instantly showed a genuine interest in getting to know me and helping me develop as an individual. He was always incredibly generous with his time, knowledge and advice providing me with many valuable lessons that I have carried with me as I started my career in Bentonville, Arkansas.”

Recently, we talked with Bill about his views on mentorships.  Bill, who finds the personal relationships that develop as the most rewarding part of being a mentor, has been involved in a multitude of formal mentor programs through schools or set up through mutual contacts.  Yet, he values most those informal mentoring moments that arise when someone initiates contact with him, which reflects how he found mentors during his own career.  In his educational years, formal mentoring programs were not available.  Instead, he sought out individuals with strong qualities of personal character, moral integrity, and professionalism as role models.  He encourages more students to reach out as Grant did to someone they would like to emulate.  As Bill explained, “it doesn’t cost anything to ask, so why not try.  If someone is a good leader they will be more than willing to help and will appreciate being asked.”

In fact, Bill believes that mentoring is a responsibility of a good leader, and good leaders are beneficial to companies and employees alike.  These are people who display integrity and strong moral character, and to whom others can look to for guidance.  However, one of the steps to becoming a good leader is to find satisfaction in employment. Bill encourages his mentees to find a passion rather than just a job, and to approach that passion with urgency and determination.  This is important, he stated, because “your work is always with you so you might as well enjoy it.”

These lessons made a difference to Grant, and are ones he will always carry with him.  “I owe a great deal of thanks to all of the alumni I was lucky enough to get to know during my time at Drury.” He added, “The Drury Alumni family has proved to be incredibly tight knit and willing to help other Alumni and students out. This is something I am very thankful for.”

Preparing students for future leadership responsibilities is something the Breech School of Business takes seriously.  This development occurs in many aspects of our educational experience, but one that continues to show meaningful results is the powerful connections made between students and alumni mentors. Breech alumni have a powerful impact on our students and their future careers and leadership opportunities. These relationships often develop through pre-arranged mentoring between alumni and students, and others occur informally, as in the story of Drury Trustee Bill Ricketts and former Breech student Grant Bowden.

There are many ways to be involved at Breech as either a mentor or mentee.  For additional information on opportunities available contact Dr. Mike Shirley.  mshirley@drury.edu