NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Kirk Phillips, president and CEO of Wintrust Commercial Bank and Stephen F. Austin State University alumnus, recently spoke to students in the Rusche College of Business about the keys to a successful career.
During his “So you want to be a CEO?” discussion, Phillips recalled the various jobs he held before achieving his current position. Phillips has spent more than 25 years in the commercial finance industry beginning with ITT Commercial Finance. He has experience with credit analysis, underwriting, sales and marketing.
“It is exciting to come back to SFA and interact with students. If even one student can benefit from my experiences since graduating from SFA, then I consider it a success,” Phillips said. “The education and experiences I had as a Lumberjack definitely helped me during my career.”
Phillips explained to attendees how he had always wanted to travel, but although his path was not the one he had originally imagined, he was able to reach his goals and be successful by following opportunities.
“Mr. Phillips’ presentation was an exceptional example of our dedicated alumni helping our students learn how to achieve career success,” said Dr. Tim Bisping, dean of the Rusche College of Business. “We are grateful for his willingness to help our students launch successful careers and ultimately become leaders in their fields.”
Megan Sellers, academic advisor and coordinator for career success and corporate engagement in the College of Business, helped organize this Student Success Passport Program event. Students in the program compete for scholarships and receive credit for attending sponsored events like this one, which enhances their scholarship opportunities.
“Events like this help students see successful CEOs and presidents of corporate America were once in their shoes. The advice the CEOs share is invaluable for students,” Sellers said. “It gives them courage and drive to know their dreams are attainable with hard work, a positive attitude and the drive to follow their dreams.”
Phillips also advised students on various keys to success, including never stop learning, attitude is everything and always look for opportunities.
“This kind of real-world advice always seems to hit students harder when it comes from someone in the business world where students someday hope to be,” Sellers said.