CEO Speaker Series allows students opportunity to hear from leaders in business
President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. sat down with Dean of Belk College Steven Ott to discuss how to be successful, financial advice and his life story at the CEO Speaker series in the Popp Martin Student Union on Feb. 1.
The CEO Speaker Series was created for students to provide them an opportunity to hear from business leaders such as Ferguson.
Ferguson joined TIAA in 2008. TIAA is a leading provider of retirement services and a Fortune 100 financial services organization that has major offices in Charlotte, including University City. TIAA is an employer of 80 UNC Charlotte alumni, a provider of scholarships, advocate for the school and donor to the Jamil Niner Student Pantry.
Ferguson talked about growing up in a household with a father who was always talking about financial literacy and was interested in how banks functioned after experiencing the Great Depression. His mother worked as a teacher.
“When other dads would talk to their sons about the scores at the most recent baseball game, my father would be talking about interest rates,” Ferguson said. “One of the things that really shaped me was this upbringing that combined the value of education with this sort of real world dynamic role of literacy.”
In 1966, Ferguson was inspired by Andrew Brimmer when he was nominated as the first black governor to the Federal Reserve Board.
“It wasn’t so much the racial angle, while obviously that was there. What really got me excited was this discovery of this big institution called the Federal Reserve,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson is a former vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System.
Ferguson also gave advice to students interested in investing and preparing for retirement at a young age. He told students to start saving now in order to reap the benefits of compound interest, be wise about how they budget money and also to continue to invest in human capital.
He also explained how to acquire knowledge of financial literacy, saying that students should be sure to pay attention in class, find books- one he suggests is “The Millionaire Next Door”- and read the newspaper, specifically the business section.
Ferguson talked about important qualities a CEO must have.
“You have to be able to combine expertise with empathy,” Ferguson said. “Folks want to work for someone who feels authentic. I think folks want to work for somebody who really understand that we’re all human beings together. That’s where I drive this thing about empathy. No employee wants to feel like he or she is some cog in a machine.”
He also talked about leadership and fortitude and noted that these are skills you can develop and practice in team activities as a leader of group member while attending college.
“These are life skills. They’re not skills you develop at the age of 50,” Ferguson said.
At the end of Ferguson and Ott’s discussion, Business Honors Students got the opportunity to ask Ferguson questions.
Ferguson gave advice on being successful in business, noting that students should value being a continuous learner.
“I’ve learned this in my own life … The jobs that you are aware of today versus the jobs you will be aware of when you’re 40, 50, 60 years old are probably night and day different,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson also spent time answering questions about being successful as a minority, networking and choosing a major.