Time with Southwestern Advantage: 4 years
College: UNC Chapel Hill
Current Title & Responsibility: Regional Consulting Veterinarian, Elanco Animal Health
1.) What are the most valuable things learned from your Southwestern Advantage experience?
I learned that discipline, keeping a positive mental attitude, and working together as a team are all key factors in achieving success. The experience also helped in building confidence so that I knew I could achieve anything that I wanted to do in life.
2.) What was the most difficult part of your experience?
The most difficult part was controlling my state of mind and keeping perspective despite changes in my circumstances. I learned that we are energized by thinking positive thoughts and, as a result, project success and happiness and ultimately achieve our goals.
3.) What are a couple pieces of advice you would offer a first year salesperson?
This is an opportunity for a life-changing experience. Give it absolutely all that you can. You will learn and experience things that will have a positive impact on your life. You will go home with a lot of pride and your parents and best friends will also be extremely proud of you.
4.) Before you were invited to sell, what was your plan after graduation (i.e. pre med, law school, etc.)?
I was planning to be a physician but, at the time I started selling, changed and decided to pursue a veterinary career.
5.) Tell us about your career path after the Southwestern Advantage.
I wish that I had started selling books earlier in my college years but wanted to go home from college in the summers to be with my girlfriend. So, I didn’t start selling until the summer before my senior year of undergraduate school but was still able to sell for four summers, into my veterinary school years. As a sophomore in vet school, I decided that I wanted to serve as a veterinarian in the Army so was commissioned as a 1LT in September of 1979. That put an end to my summer book sales since I then had a commitment to attend training for 45 days during my remaining summers in school.
Following veterinary school, I served on active duty in the Army Veterinary Corps for four years with duty at Redstone Arsenal, AL (1 year) and the Netherlands (3 years). I left active duty to go into a veterinary practice but continued to serve as a veterinarian in the Army Reserves until retiring as a Colonel just a couple years ago with 33 total years of service. My service included a variety of assignments and senior level positions and global service to include deployments to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
I practiced veterinary medicine and surgery in a primarily small animal practice near Charlotte, NC for four years after leaving active duty military service. During that time, I always visited with our pharmaceutical reps and thought I would enjoy that type of work. So, after hearing about a new animal health drug company startup, I decided to apply for a sales position. When the interviewing sales manager learned that I sold books for Southwestern, he was extremely impressed. He had previously hired Southwestern alumni and knew the experience builds character. I landed the job and really think the book sales experience was a key factor that made me stand out above the other candidates.
Starting with that sales role, I have now served 25 years in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry. I have had a very fruitful and enjoyable career in many ways and am so thankful for my book field experiences in those early years. Aside from the fact that I made and saved a ton of money in those summers (at least 4x what my friends did), I learned things that have helped me for my entire life. I’ve occasionally noticed differences compared to some of my peers in how I approach problems and think some of my attitudes and strengths are a result of my Southwestern experience. I seek out strangers and feel that I can communicate in a positive way with anyone. Even ‘difficult’ days seem easy. I know that I am a winner and can overcome obstacle in life. I attribute a lot of that confidence to Southwestern Advantage. If you are considering selling this summer, just do it! You’ll reflect back on that for decades and be glad that you did.