By Kathryn Oefinger ’19, Business Honors
Scott Steffler ’74 began his Mays Leader Forum with a surprising statistic: “Current college students are projected to have an average of five careers in their lifetime. Not five jobs, but five careers,” he explained to the Business Honors students. Steffler laughed that he was ahead of his time, because that is the exact number of careers he has had.
Steffler’s accounting degree led him to have a career as not just a Certified Public Accountant but also careers as a Chief Financial Officer, Certified Financial Planner, small business owner, and eventual salesman. He has been working in his latest career for the HR services company, Insperity (formerly known as Administaff, Inc.), since the company’s Dallas office opened in 1993. Although the transition into sales seemed unexpected, when he told his friends about the switch, his friends told him they were not shocked because Steffler was “a sales guy.”
He listed a few qualities of what makes a successful salesman:
- Working intensely
- Emotional intelligence
- Listening well
- Preparing well
- Knowing your audience
Finance major Patrick Sorescu ’20 asked, “How do you know when it’s the right time to change careers?” Steffler explained that opportunities will present themselves. We may be asked to switch roles within a company or accept a challenge. The important thing is we need to be willing to take a risk at the right time. Steffler challenged the students to be willing to be fearless. Reflect on opportunities to decide whether the opportunity is worth the risk and worth what you must sacrifice to pursue it.
For example, Steffler’s switch to sales was a huge risk. He began working on commission at the time that he had a daughter in college, and that first year at the company was difficult. Steffler began waking up earlier so that he could read sales books for an hour every morning. The hard work quickly paid off, though. Within a few years, he achieved the status Administaff’s Salesman of the Year. Still, Steffler cautioned the students not to simply take any new opportunity that arises. He recounted a time he turned down a job opportunity after his daughters immediately began crying at the mention of relocating. He reminded the students that family will have a huge impact on all major decisions.
Finance major Patrick Sorescu ’20 said his biggest takeaway from Steffler was that there is no set career path in life for anybody. “Make the most of every situation,” recalled Sorescu, “be ready to be presented with great opportunities that we may not have anticipated.”
Business honors major Kelly Villarreal ’21 was inspired by how Steffler reflected this lesson in his life. “It took such courage to begin a career in a new field at age 41,” she said. He avoided complacency and was always prepared to take on a new challenge.
Business honor major Danielle Douglas ’21 was impacted by Steffler’s advice to play to your strengths. “One thing that stood out to me was to simply be good at things we are currently doing,” she said. “This is a great reminder for me to be present and involved in the stage of life I am in.”
Business honors major Will Eigenbrodt ’20 left the forum with a new appreciation for sales. He mentioned to Steffler that he, along with most people, imagines a miserable door-to-door salesman when he thinks of sales. No one wants to buy products from these types of people. Steffler emphasized that being optimistic is the key to being able to maintain a positive attitude in a career where it can be easy to become caught up in rejection. “In a career where you will likely be rejected three times before making another big sale,” said Steffler, “you need to believe that today will be a great day and that opportunities will come.”