Everyone makes mistakes, but the key is to learn from them. A panel of four business professionals recently shared with a group of MS Marketing students the biggest mistakes they have made in their professional careers, as well as what lessons they have learned as a result.

Tami Cannizzaro ’80, principal of Cannizzaro Consulting, shared two pieces of career advice with the students: network and be open to change. Her mantra, “you can’t turn it down until they make you an offer,” stems from her own decision to turn down a great opportunity near the beginning of her career.

“Always, always be open to anything,” she said. Cannizzaro advised the students to be open-minded enough to try something new when the opportunity arises, rather than passing up the chance and later regretting their inaction.

Chris Miller ’90 agreed. “Don’t let yourself become stale and stay in one role too long,” he said. “Figure out what you’re passionate about and then figure out the next logical step that will challenge and push you.” Miller, formerly director of media, promotions and strategic planning at Golfsmith, admitted it has been hard for him to leave a job in the past when he has been emotionally invested.

Ultimately, he emphasized that students should take ownership of their own career paths, saying, “Nobody’s going to manage your career but you.”

Missy Douthit ’88 of Douthit Consulting, said she initially struggled to learn how to manage people, which is a skill not often taught formally.  “Often you are thrown into a role without much training where you are expected to manage people,” she said. “In these situations, seek out as many opportunities as you can to learn more, ask questions, find a mentor and ask for help.”

Like many others, Huck Creative’s Founding Partner Sterling Hayman ’96 said he has often found himself dwelling too much on the next step in his career. However, too much self-pressure to advance can easily wind up driving all your thoughts and behaviors.

“Too many people are focused on money, promotions, and what others are doing,” he said. “This sacrifices job satisfaction.” Instead, Hayman urged the students to focus on becoming excellent at the jobs they already have. “Have a passion for excellence,” he advised. “You want to get excited about what the next day holds for you.”


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.