Mentoring for Business Economics Students

As part of Dr. Min-Dong Paul Lee’s Principles of Management course, students seek out a mentor, and then blog about what they learn. Following are several of their personal reflections.

Effective Leadership

My mentor, Dr. Bill Pollard, was my Business Law professor last semester. His class was the first one I ever took simply because it interested me, not because I needed it for credits toward my major or because it was a gen-ed requirement. I took it because my dad had told me it was his favorite course in college. Now I can say it was my favorite too.

One of the reasons this class stood out to me is because of the professor who taught it. Dr. Pollard is a person who walks in humility, yet also speaks with such conviction and truth. Dr. Pollard was the CEO of ServiceMaster for 12 years and has served as the chairman of their board for 13 years. During his leadership of the company, ServiceMaster was recognized by Fortune magazine as the number one Fortune 500 service company. He also serves on many advisory boards, including Wheaton’s board of trustees, and was once the vice president of Wheaton College. Dr. Pollard is the author of many best-selling books. He recently published one about life's greatest lessons, called The Tides of Life. Over Christmas break, I read it and have been emailing him back and forth discussing its contents.

Prof. Pollard shared with me that one of the most significant lessons he has learned over the years came from the former CEO of ServiceMaster, Peter Drucker. Dr. Pollard recalled him saying, ‘Remember, Bill, a leader really only has one choice to make: to lead or mislead.”

Prof. Pollard has found that life is full of difficult experiences, often stemming from our own mistakes and failures. He says that in those situations, it’s important for leaders to admit their failures and, in some cases, ask for forgiveness. When you do that, you add an element of transparency to your relationships and build others’ trust.

In my own experience, currently serving as Editor In Chief of the Record, I have to make many judgment calls about what stories to write, what angles to take, and how to present Wheaton’s campus to the public. Often, I mess up. I make spelling mistakes, I misquote people (unintentionally), and I don’t always have the right answers.

To be able to honestly admit that to myself, to my staff, and ultimately, to God, is hard. But saying that we are wrong and acknowledging our failures is a necessary element to becoming a good leader. Dr. Pollard has reminded me that leaders must make challenging decisions in order to follow their values and honor God. His advice—that I must admit when I am wrong and ask how my faith applies to every situation—is a crucial step toward becoming an effective leader.

-Abigail Reese ’14

The Best Model for Business as Mission

I first met Dr. Lee, Norris A. Aldeen Chair of Business, during an advisory meeting freshman year. With my interests in the intersection of business and international development, our mentoring conversations typically center on three things: Business as Mission (BAM), entrepreneurship, and how to best bring the kingdom of God to earth, especially with regards to the poor. Reflecting on his recent research with Freeset, a BAM organization in India, Dr. Lee has become increasingly convinced of the best model for doing BAM: the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was born into a specific culture in a manger, meaning he entered into a new environment humbly, starting from the beginning rather than immediately implementing his business plan. Jesus spent the first 30 years of his life simply living in the culture, working for Joseph’s carpentry business, building relationships with people, and experiencing the local market. In this sense, the greater part of Jesus’ time on earth was spent in preparation, in listening and following after other leaders in his community. It was only after this that Jesus began his ministry, which lasted significantly less than his preparatory years.

Even though Jesus could have come to earth and begun his “true work” at the top of the socio-economic chain, he chose not to. Even though Jesus could have started changing things, and preaching another way to the people the very moment he incarnated, he chose not to. Jesus intentionally listened, and worked alongside the people before speaking authoritatively and preaching to them.

As I began to think about this model, I became increasingly convinced that this model truly captures all of the best practices for BAM, especially when I considered the cross-cultural aspects often involved with this work. Personally, I struggle in thinking about international development as a field where white, formally educated individuals travel and implement what they know to be the best practices for business, and for community development at large. However, the model of incarnation rejects this approach, advocating instead for humble beginnings and market research. The model preaches working underneath and alongside the people instead of above them. It preaches experientially learning from the community first, before even considering how to best implement a new structure or program. This approach has been proven to work much more effectively than the alternative. The more I listen to people like Dr. Lee and consider the life of Jesus, the more I am in awe of the many fitting applications of Scripture.

- Jamie Belsterling ’17

Courage

At the end of this month I will be traveling to Costa Rica to study abroad for about two months, and it is something that I am both excited and nervous about as I will be living with a host family and will be surrounded by a language and culture that are foreign to my own. While I initially was thrilled to be participating in this opportunity, I have noticed that as the amount of time until I depart gets smaller and smaller, I get increasingly more nervous. As reality is starting to set in, living in a country I have never been to with a family that is not my own while constantly having to communicate in a second language suddenly does not sound quite as exciting as I initially thought.

I spoke with my mentor, Mary, about this recently and she pointed me to a passage in Acts 27 where Paul is on a ship during a hurricane-like storm. While the crew and other passengers on the ship are thinking they are going to die, Paul exhorts them to “keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God . . . ” Paul’s optimism probably seemed completely irrational to the others onboard, considering the circumstances—the boat was barely holding together, they hadn’t seen the sun or stars for days, the ship’s cargo and tackle had to be thrown overboard, and no one on board had eaten for about two weeks. However, in faith Paul trusted God’s plan and broke bread, giving thanks to God and encouraging those he was with to follow in his faith.

Likewise, Mary encouraged me not to worry but instead to trust God, even in uncertain times. Paul underwent the most extreme trials and sufferings in life: floggings, being stoned, imprisonment, shipwrecks and many others, and through it all he remained steadfast in his faith and never doubted God’s plan. Although a study-abroad experience is nowhere near comparable in light of Paul’s life experiences, this passage is still an important reminder of the value of faith during times of uncertainty and confusion. I know that this summer will have its difficulties, but it will definitely be an experience of a lifetime and I know that God will use it to build my character, and for His glory, as I learn to trust God as the anchor for my soul.

- Emily Kreisel ’16