On Sept. 10, three members of the Charlotte Hornets executive team came to Queens University of Charlotte to speak with students and faculty on leadership and what it takes to become successful.
Will Sparks, director of leadership initiatives for the McColl School of Business, moderated the panel. Sparks first spoke with Pete Guelli, the executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer for the Hornets team. Guelli spoke on his life before the Hornets and how his professional career began to take off. As a college graduate, he participated in numerous internships and worked for a consultant company.
Next to speak about the importance of internships was Fred Whitfield, Hornets president, chief operating officer and alternate governor. Whitfield was an economics major in college. Shortly after graduating, he went on to negotiate shoe contracts for Nike and continued to maintain salary caps for professional sports.
Rich Cho, general manager, also touched on internships. He had an internship at IBM and also worked on designing airplanes at Boeing.
Cho said that as an executive team, they look into the background of each player before they bring them into the team. They look for consistent players, who are hard workers on and off the court. They also want to make sure that the players they attain are unselfish, putting the team above their own personal success. Whitfield added to that stating that they look for people who possess an excellent leadership style and are always challenging themselves to get better.
The panel stressed to the audience that internships, hard work and dedication are the key components in finding success. Guelli explained that people are in a too much of a hurry to get to the next level, that they need to “focus on the opportunity at hand.”
“If you do that extremely well, opportunities will present themselves from there.”
Whitfield furthered this commentary by saying that “someone will knock on your door” and that you should not try to get there too quickly. Its a stepping stone process, he said; you have to get through to the next level. How do you get to that next level? According to Cho, internships “help you get your foot in the door.”
If you want to be successful, dedication, hard work, and internships are what will help you get there. These are goals that one should strive to attain in the hopes of finding success. Find an internship, get serious and if you land an internship, great.
“You need to be the first in the building and the last to leave,” because only then will people take you seriously. They will see what an asset you are, they will see how dedicated you are and they will say, ‘Hey, we can’t lose you, we need you,’ ” said Whitfield.
The panel concluded with a final remark from Whitfield, who reminded everyone, “When you think you reach the level you are most successful, never forget how you got there.”