Giving Back: Partnering for Increased Opportunities

a101414_054Support comes to Southeastern’s students in many ways. A growing area of support is coming from industry and companies in the private sector who view their efforts as both altruistic and wise investing. This kind of support ensures that students in key fields are prepared to enter the workforce at a level the companies need, ready to make an impact from day one of employment. As companies find these partnerships a wise investment, Southeastern works to ensure its curriculum and programs meet the needs that fuel regional employment and economic growth.

The list of companies supporting Southeastern continues to grow and includes both regional and national organizations, some of which include North Oaks Health System; First Guaranty Bank; Sanderson Farms; United Rentals, Inc; Entergy; and more. In recent months, Southeastern has seen multiple companies provide several large strategic investments.


Northwestern Mutual, Inc. and Professional Sales

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Top image, seated, from left: Northwestern Mutual Managing Director / Financial Advisor Paul Hodge and Northwestern Mutual Managing Partner of Louisiana and Mississippi Steven Dugal. Standing, from left: Southeastern Associate Professor of Marketing Tara’ Lopez; Brian Jones, Northwestern Mutual college unit director / financial advisor; Kolby Hodge; Lisa Dugal; Katy Simpson, chief marketing officer; Michael Bazile, chief operating officer; April Kemp, instructor of marketing; and Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale.

Students in Southeastern’s new Professional Sales Program will soon benefit from a state-of-the-art training room thanks to a $100,000 donation from Northwestern Mutual.

The new Northwestern Mutual Sales Training Room will be located in Garrett Hall, home to the College of Business.

Steven Dugal, managing partner of the Mississippi and Louisiana offices, as well as Paul Hodge, managing director of the Mandeville and Gulfport offices, are supporting
the initiative.

“We are excited to get involved in Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program. From our experience at other universities, sales students ramp up faster than non-sales students, have lower turnover, and are more prepared for the workforce” said Dugal, noting that Northwestern Mutual has been instrumental in donating to other similar, successful programs at universities.

Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program was created to draw high-ability students toward selling as a career, better prepare those students for early success in professional selling careers, and connect them with sales professionals in the region. According to research conducted by the Sales Education Foundation, more than 50 percent of business school graduates enter the workforce in a sales-oriented position.

“We know that professional sales is not only a starting point for careers, but is becoming more and more important across all sectors of the economy,” said College of Business Dean Toni Phillips. “The Southeastern Professional Sales Program will help train the next generation of sales leaders, and the investment that Northwestern Mutual is making demonstrates that the program is on the right track. We are really appreciative of Northwestern Mutual.”

An important objective of the program, Phillips added, is to connect sales program students with sales professionals and organizations through role-play competitions, internships, guest speakers, panel discussions, and career opportunities. The new facilities help directly achieve this.


Intralox and Industrial Technology

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Using supplies donated by Intralox, students Zachary Kamm and Alex Milles work on a project to study and suppress vibrations.

In addition to the large donation from Performance Contractors in recent years, the Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology continues to see companies wanting to invest in Southeastern’s growing Industrial Technology program.

“We are seeing more interest from companies in key industries that see the needs they have both now and in the future. These partnerships help Southeastern, its students, and the company,” said Mohammed Sadeh, department head for Industrial and Engineering Technology. “Intralox, a global conveyor system company headquartered here in Louisiana, has become one of these great partners.”

Intralox donates supplies for senior projects of students in the Industrial Technology program, including Zachary Kamm, a senior who worked with a team of two other students, Alex Milles and Monroe McCarty, on a project to study and suppress vibrations. “Our project is a Vibration Analyzation System. This can have a great deal of implications on vibration suppression in equipment, machinery, and surroundings. Once the project is fully assembled we will be able to perform multiple experiments on it to find things such as the natural frequency of the system, as well as the theoretical values of a separate mass and spring constant that would attach underneath our cage to eliminate the vibrations,” explained Kamm.

The project and the experience these students will receive from this level of hands-on learning will be invaluable. Kamm stated, “If it wasn’t for Intralox’s financial support, we wouldn’t be able to build this project at all.”

“Our manufacturing business requires employees with strong academic and practical knowledge of the many mechanical, electrical, computer control, and logic systems we utilize daily. Providing Southeastern with resources to connect classroom learning with hands-on application, along with being able to align courses that are relevant to our business through participation in their advisory board, helps meet our current and future needs. Our Southeastern graduates have been instrumental to our ongoing success,” said Chris Verdigets, Intralox Hammond manager.


Smitty’s Supply Inc. and Business

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Members of Smitty’s Supply Board of Directors present a $250,000 donation to Southeastern. From left: Luiz Macedo; Charles Brister; Chad Tate, president; Ed Smith, owner / CEO; Steve Hoover; Katherine Rose, Southeastern senior director of Development & Advancement Services; Brad Berner; James Ballard; Joe Miller; and David Padgett.

Southeastern is also getting support in multiple areas in the College of Business thanks to a $250,000 donation from Smitty’s Supply Inc.

The contribution will benefit four specific areas—business, supply chain management, accounting, and the recently established professional sales program.

“This significant gift demonstrates Smitty’s Supply Inc.’s commitment and partnership with Southeastern,” said Senior Director of Development and Advancement Services Katherine Rose. “Smitty’s investment in Southeastern is transforming the lives of students.”

Four endowments were created as a result of the donation—the Edgar R. Smith III Endowed Professorship in Business, the Christina Smith Leto Endowed Scholarship in Supply Chain Management, Smitty’s Supply Inc. Endowed Scholarship in Accounting, and the Christina Smith Leto Sales Program Endowment. Part of the donation also includes funds to complete construction of the executive conference room in Southeastern’s Professional Sales Training Center.

“Supply chain management is one of our fastest-growing programs at Southeastern, and it offers students excellent career opportunities,” Rose said. “Our accounting program has a long history of providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to meet the needs and challenges of today’s businesses.”

The funds for the Professional Sales Program, Rose explained, will be used to complete the construction of the executive conference room in the Professional Sales Training Center and create annual funds to support unexpected program needs. Additionally, two of Smitty’s management team members have volunteered to serve as sales student mentors.

Southeastern creates economic opportunity. This opportunity is both for its students and for the companies and entities that will hire them. Generating a match between industry need and personal opportunity creates a growing economy. Giving back through partnerships is one of the many ways that Southeastern works for the benefit of its students and the region.

By Mike Rivault

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