The value mentoring in the business world is undisputed. So when a pair of successful business professionals agreed to speak with Huntington High School Virtual Enterprise course students the teenagers gave their undivided attention.
Described as a “man who loves to build companies,” Jamie Proctor spoke with the Snooz3, Biosol and Titan Virtual Enterprise company teams. He shared his own story of co-founding a company and what it takes to make it in a very competitive world.
Mr. Proctor met with students in the sleek Virtual Enterprise classroom on the lower level of the high school. He’s the co-founder of WorkRails, a software company which “makes it easier for technology services and sales teams to work together,” according to the company’s website.
“With a background in technology and finance and a fascination for start-ups Mr. Proctor is a wealth of information and encouragement for our budding entrepreneurs,” said Suzi Biagi, who teaches in the VE program along with faculty colleague Paige Furman. “WorkRails is a venture capital backed company that helps businesses sell tech services through automation. Mr. Proctor prides himself on and credits his businesses success to getting just the right mix of human capital, technology and workflow.”
Mr. Proctor discussed what it means to find your “passion” and choosing to pursue “what excites and inspires you the most.”
“As the co-owner of two other companies, this generous gentleman is never too busy to share his story with our students and both Paige and I are ever so grateful,” Ms. Biagi said. “His excited and encouraging interaction with our kids was heartwarming.”
Virtual Enterprise students absorbed everything the successful businessman had to say.
“You have to find the reason ‘why’ and carve your business plan from the inside out,” said Taylor Case, the CEO of Snooz3. “It was so important that the class hear from a real entrepreneur that it is okay to make mistakes. He showed that with successes come failures. I believe that is a valuable message that the rest of my company and I needed to hear.”
Snooz3 reflected for quite some time on one particular point that Mr. Proctor made, namely that “it’s the teams of people, not the idea” that makes a business a success.
Steven Queen, vice president of sales for Snooz3 was equally impressed with what Mr. Proctor had to tell students. “He was really well spoken and gave great advice and I felt like I connected with him on a business level,” Mr. Queen said. “I walked away with more ideas about ways we can grow as a company and also that people invest in the people not the idea.”
The Virtual Enterprise students went home with plenty to digest and reflect upon following Mr. Proctor’s visit. The next day, Christopher Bates came calling. An adjunct professor of finance at LIU Post and the college’s director of employee relations, Mr. Bates had a seat on the New York Stock Exchange for 24 years. He retired from Goldman Sachs as its managing director.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for the students to hear his thoughts on public speaking, presentations of all kinds and how to showcase all of their strengths,” Ms. Biagi said. He advised the students on keeping the audience and getting out of their comfort zone, about setting personal goals and keeping them in mind at all times and that your character and determination are the things that will set you apart in the real world.”
Mr. Bates made the important point that “if it’s in your heart, the audience will know it and believe in you and your business even more.”
“He advised all of the students to have a mentor and that if you need help to seek it,” Ms. Biagi said. He also explained the philosophy behind the “power of the pause,” which sends a signal that prepares the audience “that something important or unique is about to happen.”
Biosol’s vice president of human resources, Sarah Giarraputo found Mr. Bates’ presentation to be valuable. “I learned being genuine is the key to a successful business,” she said. “Get out of your comfort zone and use the resources you’re given in life.”
Mr. Bates visit to Huntington High School was time well spent. “Mr. Bates had so much essential information that is going to make our company great,” said Jonathan Koumas, Titan’s marketing manager. “He really impacted me by talking about a philosophy of following your heart. That really hit me hard. I’ve always known that being yourself is key and that why I think he really liked me.”
The Snooz3, Biosol and Titan Virtual Enterprise company teams are on a year-long quest to turn their new firms into the envy of Long Island business students. Many are planning personal careers in business and intend to study some aspect of business in college.