The Collegian
Thursday, July 09, 2020

Faculty speak on business professionalism

Faculty members in the Robins School of Business held a panel on Feb. 23 to share their perspectives on the importance of professionalism with students.

"A professional is someone who is willing to go the extra steps to ensure that their work is consistently high in its quality," Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the Robins School of Business said.

Jonathan Whitaker, assistant professor of management, said he knew just how competitive the business world could be.

"Getting a high GPA and knowing how to wear a suit isn't good enough anymore," he said. "You've got to have more than that. Part of what will distinguish you from the masses will be your professionalism."

Even students' everyday interactions with their professors need to be conducted professionally, Whitaker said.

"What students don't realize is that professors are constantly evaluating students professionalism during class and through email exchanges," he said.

Bagranoff stressed the importance of professionalism when applying for internships and jobs. "Before you send out your resume and cover letter," she said, "you should always ask yourself, 'Would you hire you?'"

Having other people edit and read your cover letter and resume before sending them out into the business world is essential, she said.

"Why would you want to ruin all of your hard work in school by one error on your cover letter?" Bagranoff said. "You always want to put your best foot forward."

Steve Thompson, associate professor of management, said true professionals in the business world understood their roles and responsibilities. Thompson said true professionals were people that, when mistakes happened, accepted responsibility for errors and learned from their mistakes.

"Professionals are self-starters who don't need to be told what to do because they know what to do," Thompson said. "Obedience will only get you so far before your will to succeed must take over."

Being a professional is something that needs to start now, said Randy Raggio, assistant professor of marketing.

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"Professionalism starts now because, like most things, once you take the first step to becoming a full professional, you realize there is so much more to learn and do," he said.

Raggio said professionals were those always working to improve.

"Continual improvement is always necessary and it is important to note that you are never done working," Raggio said. "I've never had a job where I was able to say, 'I got to the end and can finally stop.'"

Richard Coughlan, associate professor of management, said in order for students to become professionals in the business world, they had to first make the choice to live their lives in a state of professionalism.

"Our lives are made up of decision after decision," Coughlan said. "At some point you must make the decision to commit to being professional in order to succeed."

Contact reporter Ryann Dannelly at ryann.dannelly@richmond.edu.

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