Monday, May 21, 2012

VF Corp. CEO Discusses Success at Hooding Ceremony

VF Corp. CEO Eric Wiseman
This year's graduates from the Wake Forest University Schools of Business left their hooding ceremony with a better understanding of what it will take to succeed in business and life, thanks to a frank assessment from the CEO of apparel company VF Corp.

Eric Wiseman, who earned his MBA from Wake Forest in 1988, gave attendees four pointers for success during his remarks Sunday evening.

"Never stop learning," Wiseman advised. "You will have a chance to pick up many tools along the way. Pick them up, learn how to use them, and never stop losing them."

Among his underlying themes: never stop learning, take risks, and be aware that success involves making priorities and choices.

"Take big risks with your careers," Wiseman said, discussing his own willingness to move his family around to move up through a prior job and, later, to take a position in VF's JanSport division.

"Taking personal risks will give you experiences that others won't get," Wiseman added. "Don't be afraid to be the one to raise your hand and say, 'Pick me, I'll do it.'"

Dean Reinmund at Sunday's hooding ceremony
I felt as though I had come full circle in my program when Wiseman began discussing the importance of passion in the work place. Dean Steve Reinmund hit on that topic repeatedly during my orientation in August 2009, serving as a precursor of sorts to his "find your fire" mantra for the Wake Forest University Schools of Business.

Wiseman said he hit his stride at VF, "when I finally aligned my personal passion with my career." The Greensboro, N.C., company's ideals include loyalty and commitment, which in turn has led to closeness among members of VF's operating committee, fewer mistakes and a "higher level of personal integrity."

Wiseman also made it clear to this year's graduating class that balancing work and personal life is never about equilibrium. "Balance is not going to be 50-50 if you want excellence," he stated. "You always have to sacrifice something. There are real choices and real implications for those choices."

Finally, Wiseman implored students at Wait Chapel to find ways to give back to the community sooner rather than later. "Get involved where there is need," he said. "You will meet different people who will enrich your perspective."

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