After more than 27 years of professional experience, Wayne Roberts ’85 is determined to “give back” as he continues his career. Drawing from his experiences, he spoke recently with a group of Business Honors students about what he would tell a younger version of himself, if he could. Roberts offered tips on how to behave, operate and lead as future business professionals.
Roberts is chief operating officer and human resources director for Accruent, an Austin-based provider of real estate and facilities management software solutions.
He joined Accruent in April 2014 after serving in a variety of senior executive roles at Rackspace, Dell, Accenture and Trammell Crow Company. The Austin native earned a bachelor’s degree in business analysis and an MBA from Texas A&M University. He currently serves on the Development Council for Mays Business School.
Roberts gave the students several pieces of advice on how to conduct themselves in the working world. He spoke of the importance of accountability and reliability, which he described as important indicators of integrity. “Do what you say you’re going to do,” said Roberts. “Ask yourself if customers and teammates can rely on you to honor your commitments.”
He also advised the students to assume the best intent when negative situations arise, without ascribing motives. “When mistakes or issues arise, we too often focus on who did it instead of what happened and how to fix it,” said Roberts. “Assuming the best intent completely changes how you view situations. You’ll be amazed by how much relationships improve when you do this.”
Haley Lemmons ’15 said she hopes to apply this lesson to her own life. “One of the pieces of wisdom I took away was Mr. Roberts’ advice to always assume the best in people,” she said. “He said that he has always been surprised by how much his relationships improved when he looked at people’s actions in a positive light before assuming that they had selfish or unethical motives.”
Other behavioral qualities he emphasized were being humble, direct, willing to listen and quick to resolve conflicts.
In describing how business professionals should operate, Roberts stressed the need to stay focused on customer satisfaction. “Everything we do in our company is about delighting customers,” he said. Roberts referenced the Net Promoter System, which categorizes customers as promoters, passives and detractors. “Detractors are 10 times more influential than promoters, but in a harmful way,” explained Roberts. “However, if you can create customers as promoters of your company, they sell you to others and become a virtual salesforce for your company.”
Roberts also advised the students to have a strong bias for action, decentralize decisions where possible and enjoy the journey rather than just the destination. In his relationships with other Accruent employees, Roberts said he tries to adopt the mantra of “What can I do to help you get better?”
One of the most important factors in being a successful leader, said Roberts, is being able to apply the concept of servant leadership. “Invert the organizational pyramid so that you work for your team,” he advised. “You need a chorus of support for you in the organization to be successful.” Other actions leaders should take, according to Roberts, are demonstrating stewardship, providing regular feedback to employees and helping to build champions within the organization.
“It was a great experience to sit down and interact with Mr. Roberts,” said Nicholas Davis ’16. “He was incredibly personal and open to any questions, and his outline was powerful and useful.”
Above all, Roberts encouraged the students to choose a career path they will enjoy. “The sooner in your life you can figure out what you’re good at and what you are passionate about, the happier and more engaged you’ll be,” he said. “Don’t just take a job. Find a cause. But make sure it’s the right fit for you.”
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Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.
Categories: Executive Speakers