Theresa Campbell: says she is grateful to the professor who asked her 'what is your purpose?' and gave her the space to think of the answer
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Theresa Campbell studied for an MBA at Rollins College Crummer Graduate School in the US, where she focused on entrepreneurship. She has also worked for Ford Motor Company since 2005.

In 2012, Ms Campbell launched Her Life, Her Legacy, an initiative to help women live the life of their dreams while doing work that matters. She has also written an ebook titled Dying to Live: A Smart Woman’s Guide to Coming into Your Own.

1. Why did you choose to do an MBA?

It was strategic – things were not exactly the greatest in the automotive industry back in 2007 and I wanted to ensure that if I were to elect to go and work somewhere else, or if I were to be displaced, that I would be able to start anew somewhere else with work experience and a master's degree that made me more marketable.

2. Where was your favourite place to study?

It was literally the basement of the school – affectionately referred to as the “Gateway to the Top”. It had everything you needed, especially the peace and quiet to study uninterrupted for hours on end.

3. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?

It wasn’t really advice per se but a question: “What is your purpose?” Wrestling with that question led me on the journey of a lifetime and I will forever be grateful to [Rollins professor] Rick Bommelje for not only asking the question but creating the space to honestly explore the answer. My business Her Life, Her Legacy would not have even been a thought if it were not for this question.

4, What is your biggest lesson learnt?

You must invest in yourself [and] not just financially through education. You must make investments in the relationships that you build while getting your education. Work hard on becoming the best version of yourself and the rest will take care of itself. Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur and motivational speaker, encouraged his listeners to: “work harder on yourself than you do on your job … if you work hard on your job you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself you can make a fortune.”

5. Is there anything you would improve on the course?

I can’t really think of anything. The great part about Rollins was that it integrated real-world working opportunities in almost every course. For example, you didn’t just take a marketing course and create a marketing plan from a book. You also worked with a real client who needed the consulting to improve their business. I met some incredible business leaders in the community and was able to connect and form powerful mentoring relationships and friendships.

6. Who is your ideal professor?

The poet Maya Angelou. I’m inspired by her life and believe that she is a woman who has truly lived her message. She followed her passion and stood for what she believed in.

7. What advice would you give to women graduating this year from business school?

You can do whatever you want. No, really, whatever you want. You’re smart enough, you’re more than capable, just trust yourself and go for it. Women can get caught up in looking for external validation or permission to have or go after that dream job or start that business. I say go for it. If you have experience plus an education, you’re more than capable of figuring it out.

8. How do you deal with male dominated environments?

Having worked for Ford for almost nine years, you learn pretty quickly how to adapt to the corporate culture as well as the culture of our male dominated dealer body (dealership franchise personnel). I honestly don’t really think about it. I’m myself and always try to add value no matter the situation. Whether you’re male or female, people just want to know that you care and have their best interest at heart. Do your job, do it extremely well and – regardless of your gender – you can shine.

9. What is your favourite business book?

Anything by Seth Godin. If I had to pick just one of his books it would be a Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future.

10. What are your top tips for networking?

Be open, friendly and listen. Genuinely inquire about people and what they’re excited about. Make sure you listen for ways to help them – even if it’s something as simple as recommending a hair stylist to someone who just moved to the area. Be of service. You want to build bridges back to yourself for being helpful, smart and authentic. This always pays off in the long-run.

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