By Richard Gay ’22, Business Honors

A company can set itself apart with strong and intentional relationships with clients and employees. Main Street Capital Corporation has developed its entire business around this idea. Their primary service is providing capital solutions to lower middle market companies – hence the name Main Street and not Wall Street. Main Street strives to build relationships and customize transactions to meet the unique needs of each of their portfolio companies.

Mays former student Brent Smith ’97 (accounting) and ’98 (PPA), Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Main Street Capital Corporation, spoke on Sept. 27 to Business Honors students. He said Main Street’s unique business model involves more than just a financial investment as it truly “takes an investment in people.” Main Street does this by working closely beside the ownership and management of all the companies in their portfolio and committing to the long haul. Building these relationships drives Main Street’s success. Smith also discussed Main Street’s culture in the office feels like a family where everyone is fully invested in the success of the company. “Even the receptionist owns our stock,” Smith said.

Smith’s advice for students included four characteristics that lead to success:

  • Work ethic – Be diligent in what is important to you
  • Flexibility – Live in the moment and don’t assume failure when goals aren’t fully met
  • Patience – Focus on growing as a person and continuous learning instead of chasing money or job titles
  • Balance – Do not lose sight of what’s important to you, and give the same drive that you do at work to your personal relationships outside of work

In the end, Smith has found that if someone has meaningful relationships and balance throughout their life, they will be happier and more successful in accomplishing their goals. “If you only take one thing away from this time,” said Smith, “I want you to understand how important making time for your family is while in the professional world.”

Business Honors major Flora Patterson ’22 admitted she was unfamiliar with the world of finance, but said Smith’s words opened her eyes to the possibility of a career in finance. “Not only did I learn a lot of new vocabulary regarding finance, but I also heard first-hand the importance of making personal connections with clients in business,” she said. “Knowing this makes me want to form deeper ties with the people I meet and determine if I want to pursue finance in the future.”

Business Honor major Emma Banks ’22 said she appreciated Smith’s advice and career insights. “He put it in a down-to-earth way that really stood out to me,” she said. “I will remember his advice so that I consciously keep work ethic, open-mindedness, patience, and balance at the forefront of my life as I go through college and into my career.”