“Strive to be your best, most professional self when you are in your working life,” stated Tony Alexander, executive-in-residence of UA’s College of Business Administration (CBA), during his Tuesday presentation titled “Professionalism: What Not to Do.”
As part of the CBA’s Suit Up Week, “Professionalism: What Not to Do” gave students insight on transitioning from college students to professionals in the workplace.
“Learn your company’s expectations and culture,” Alexander said. “This will show you what is acceptable behavior and attire. How you dress creates a perception about you in the workplace. Once that perception is created, it is hard to change because you do not see one another every day.”
Alexander emphasized formality. When you are writing, speaking, emailing and presenting, always remain formal. Everyone has different humor. By remaining formal, it will ensure you do not offend anyone.
“The most valuable commodity in business is people’s time,” he said. It is important to be present and to be on time.
When it comes to debate, Alexander said do not take it personal; debate is good for business. It is acceptable to disagree. “However, once a decision is made, support it. Do not be disloyal,” he said. The exceptions would be if the decision is unethical or unsafe.
Alexander stressed the importance of teamwork.
“Needing help is not a weakness,” Alexander explained. He added that building a team around you is essential. You will not know everything so surround yourself with people who know different things than you. Engage in constructive feedback. This will help you grow and improve.
He ended the presentation by reflecting on what he thinks has contributed to his success. As a former CEO of FirstEnergy, he credits embracing all of his opportunities and continuously striving to learn more as parts of his success. The tougher the job, the more he wanted it.
“Never stop learning. If you stop learning, you stop your ability to grow. Build a team around you, think outside the box and push to get it through,” Alexander said.