Alumni connections provide a learning experience for business students

Thanks to an extensive and supportive network of partners and alumni, a group of Hesston College students had the opportunity to meet with professionals in various business specialties and learn from them in a memorable, interactive environment during a recent trip to Denver, Colo.

Director of the School of Management Enrique Barreiro and faculty member Laura Lyndsey traveled with the business management program junior cohort which includes students Mackenzie Grove, Carson Elonich and Abraham Cadillo Quispe. The group spent several days meeting with business professionals who have ties to the college and toured their facilities.

Peyton Hofer, chief financial officer of TWC Management Properties and son of Hesston College partners Preston and Marjorie Hofer, talked with students about how he and his company built a hotel during the pandemic and how they navigated the struggles of the economy during that time. Marjorie Hofer, career coach and owner of The Career Profiler, walked the students through one of her profiling tests to help them get a picture of the type of career they are best suited for.

The next stop was Butcher & Swede, a custom fabrication company owned and operated by Hesston College alumni and members of the School of Management Advisory Council Nathanael ’04 and Audra (Hofer) ’08 Shue. The Shues took the cohort on a tour of their facilities where they design and manufacture custom furniture, cabinetry and signage, among other items. After the tour, the alumni discussed the challenges they faced when they began their journey helping out a failing fabrication company before eventually taking the risk of venturing out on their own.

This conversation with business owners helped Grove, a junior from Murphy, N.C., learn a valuable lesson about connections.

“Connections make the biggest impact on the growth and trust of a business,” she said. “Without them, there is a higher chance of failure since you don’t have the support you need.”

The cohort also met with Goshen College alumni Cindy Eby, founder and CEO of Results Lab, and Griffen O’Shaughnessy, founder and CEO of Canopy Advisory Group. Eby explained to the group how she noticed deficiencies in how companies, especially nonprofits and charity organizations, collect and analyze their data. She wanted to create a firm that would help set guidelines for data collection and analysis to help streamline the process for these companies. O’Shaughnessy started her career as a lawyer working with mergers and acquisitions before starting Canopy in 2009. O’Shaughnessy compared the work she did as a lawyer with the work she does at Canopy and explained the process she went through to start her business. She also discussed the benefits of working in consulting firms such as the flexibility and the range of companies they could work with.

The main takeaway that Grove had from this interaction was that finding the right career can be a journey.

“I learned that it is okay to work in a business that isn’t your ideal job to grow and expand to where you wanna be one day,” said Grove. “Sometimes the steps you don’t want to take are going to be the steps that will help you the most along the way.”

“We truly had a ‘legit’ time together,” said Barreiro. “Along with making long-lasting connections, meeting amazing Hesston alumni and being able to network with the various individuals, the group was able to enjoy themselves during the van ride, trying exotic food and also get to know our amazing faculty.”