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School of Business gives PEP Talk on the power of numbers

Jack Abbot- General Reporter

Brianna Wallen- News Editor

The School of Business hosted a pep talk on March 27 where three presenters from the nonprofit sector spoke on getting involved in networking. 

The School of Business hosts “PEP Talks” every Thursday where students can listen to professionals who are in their respective industries and learn from them. 

The three speakers for this event were President and CEO of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Garrett Sheehan, President and CEO of Manufactures and Technical Community Hub Marcia LaFemina and Director of Mission Investing and Entrepreneural Ecosystems Arthur Thomas III. 

Photo: Jack Abbot

The presentation acted as a Q&A session with the host Mark Zampino, a recruiter for the Master of Business Administration program, asking each of the speakers about their own experience in the industry.  

Sheehan believes that businesses, especially smaller ones, often hesitate to do things like asking for help or relying on other businesses for support. However, Sheehan expressed that many businesses could benefit from cooperation. The Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce serves as a resource to help build community between different businesses in various industries. 

“Businesses are a lot like individuals. They all need support,” Sheehan said. 

Thomas believes that business is about solving problems. He argued that when businesses share knowledge with each other, they can work together to solve problems more effectively. 

“One of the things that made Silicon Valley so successful is that there’s this thing called knowledge spillover and transfer of knowledge. And they were doing this in an open platform, so that meant that entrepreneurs and small businesses got the chance to really leverage off of each other and grow at exponential rates,” Thomas said. 

Thomas said that this sharing of ideas has allowed him to improve his business and make it more equitable. 

“Most people will confront some type of crisis that can cause them to really fall down,” Thomas said. “The people who tend to be resilient and come back are the people with stronger networks.” 

LaFemina, who took on her business after it was passed down from her father, knows the importance of networking. She expressed that networking and having a brand go hand –in-hand with one another. 

“You pick up your reputation and your brand organically. You have to be present and build who you are individually,” LaFemina said.  

This process of building one’s brand consists of identifying skills and abilities that they possess.  

“You have to figure out how to package what you do very well to translate value into someone who would be interested in paying you, period,” Thomas said.  

When individuals have a personal brand, it sets the groundwork for networking. As Thomas said, one’s network equals their worth. For this reason, the experts shared ways that students can network at the university.  

“Join clubs and talk to people after class to leverage that knowledge,” Thomas said. 

It is crucial for students to take the extra step to reach out to their fellow students or even faculty.  

“Ask your professors questions and have the humility to learn and unlearn,” Thomas said.  

All of the specialists encouraged students to get out of their comfort zone and branch out.  

“Growth comes with discomfort,” Thomas said. “Once you have this realization that you can’t do this on your own, it’s really clear on where you need to go and who you need to talk to.” 

Whether it is being a part of an organization or fulfilling an internship, it is important for students to put themselves out there. 

“There’s a reason to get involved. Don’t wait until you get up the corporate ladder,” LaFemina said. 

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