“These are the most important years of your life,” students of an introduction to business class at Cumberland University were told last week.
Bob McDonald, chairman of the Cumberland University board of trust and president and chief executive officer of CedarStone Bank headquartered in Lebanon, told the class of some 38 students that many of the “most important” people he has met in his life and that they will meet in their lives will be from relationships developed during their college years.
McDonald said he met his wife while attending the University of Tennessee and made many lasting friendships that have served to influence his life since his college days on campus in Knoxville.
McDonald’s comments, as a guest lecturer, came at the end of a semester of learning what teacher Karah Sprouse termed a study in “virtually all aspects of business.”
She said McDonald’s life experiences, including his broad experience in banking, served as a “capstone” for what her students have been learning for a semester.
While sharing a number of personal experiences along with remarks relating to the organization, startup and continued growth of CedarStone Bank, McDonald impressed upon students that what they plan to do in life will largely be influenced by what they learn both inside and outside the classroom.
He encouraged the class to not be afraid to get what he termed “a broad range of experience” in their quest to determine what careers they may wish to pursue.
Before deciding to work in banking McDonald said he had college internships and later jobs in government and in the hospitality/entertainment industry. He served as a staff assistant for a congressman and senator in Washington for a two year stint and for a short while worked at the Opryland theme park in a management role with the entertainment division.
He hinted that he was influenced in his career decision to become a banker because his father who now works with him had been a lifelong banker in Nashville.
McDonald told students he worked for several regional banks before launching CedarStone Bank ten years ago. CedarStone’s main office is in Lebanon while the bank has branch facilities in Mt. Juliet and Donelson.
He advised class members that in order to be successful in their respective careers they should “distinguish” themselves.
Offering eight principles to distinguish them from others McDonald urged students to “outwork others – get to work early and be one of the last to leave; be worldly – gain lots of knowledge, try different things; look good – be neat in your dress and personal appearance; never stop being a student – keep learning; be ethical – do the right thing; find your professional passion; find a mentor – someone ahead of you in life; and be compassionate.”