Ross School BBAs Get Real-World Insight at First Dean's Seminar
Alumnus David Hickman stresses the importance of business ethics and philanthropy.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—David Hickman, BBA í62 and MBA í63, chairman and CEO of United Bank and Trust, spoke with 15 BBA students at the first Deanís Seminar for undergraduate students at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
"What weíre trying to do is complement the classroom experience with real-world opportunities by giving students the chance to talk to successful alumni," said Dean Robert J. Dolan, who introduced Hickman at the Sept. 21 event.
Hickman began by discussing his academic career at the business school and his admiration for the faculty. "The professors cared about us. Thatís what makes this a great place," he said.
Hickman praised the quality of students at the Ross School, adding a small warning: "You guys must be really smart. I didnít realize how much a University of Michigan degree means to employers. Appreciate it but donít get arrogant. That kind of attitude wonít get you far," he said.
Hickman described his 20-year journey to find the right career. Working in public accounting, manufacturing (his family owned business) and banking, he said he realized that business ethics is the most important thing a company should focus on.
"Your co-workers know everything you do. Iíve never done anything dishonest, but Iíve made plenty of mistakes. People need to know you walk the talk," Hickman said.
One of the nice things about his current role in a community bank is the community involvement, said Hickman, who encouraged students to volunteer. "You need to step up to the responsibility," he said. "Share your time and resources with others."
During a Q/A session, Hickman, who retires later this year, was asked what qualities he looks for in a successor. "People skills, leadership and honesty," he said, adding that he also requires a handwriting analysis before he hires anyone.
When asked about the best way to gain professional experience, Hickman advised "trying and making mistakes."
Greg Stamatopoulos, BBA í07, was inspired by Hickmanís story and love for volunteerism. "I learned a lot. Iím in a family business and was impressed by his involvement in the community," he said.
Scott A. Moore, director of the BBA program, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and associate professor of business information technology, says students should be on the lookout for more events like this while they are at Ross. "Part of a BBAís education should address the studentís ability to understand the concerns of top management. Iím glad that we were able to provide this opportunity for them to interact more closely with Mr. Hickman, and Iím also glad these students knew enough to take advantage of it," said Moore.
Hickman has served as CEO of United Bank and Trust since 1992 and United Bancorp Inc. since 1998. Prior to that, he served in numerous leadership roles in both companies since joining them in 1983 and 1986, respectively.
Hickman serves on several boards of directors, including the American Bankers Association, American Bankers Professional & Fidelity Insurance Co., MBA Service Corp., Michigan Bankers Insurance Center, Promedica Health System and the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.
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