In the second edition of the Titan Future Leaders Series on Wednesday, Cal State Fullerton alumnus Michael Groff shared advice about business, education, family and his experience working as the former president and CEO of Toyota Financial Services.
Anthony Pang, the interim director for the Office of Student Life and Leadership, welcomed the packed audience in the Titan Student Theatre and introduced the panel speakers.
“Our office works year round to develop and engage students in the Titan series. The Titan Future Leaders talks are a prime example of how the leadership skills someone learns along the journey of life and how it impacts the future,” said Pang.
President Framroze Virjee, who was in the audience, spoke at the first Titan Future Leaders event last semester, highlighting his journey from being a lawyer to becoming CSUF’s president.
Host Patrick Donahue, chairman and CEO of Donahue Schriber Realty Group, opened the panel by introducing his college roommate Michael Groff.
“It’s really important for all of you to realize that 40 something years ago I was sitting out there just like you,” he said. “If you learn anything at Cal State Fullerton in your stay here, make sure you know how to handle money, not make money. That’s a whole other class.”
The point of the program was to give students a sense of how people become CEOs. “There’s a pretty good chance you will not be the smartest guy in the room so you might want to plan to work a little harder than everybody else,” said Groff.
Groff brought up that his parents taught him about the importance of integrity, hard work, and education. He also added that it is fundamental to make family, friends and faith the heart of your life.
“My key take on this presentation was that you choose what you do with your time. They chose to take on learning and be successful so that’s why they’ve reached their level of success,” said Octavio Lizarraga Pescudor, an accounting and finance major.
Minesh Barot, vice president for Marketing for Business and Data Analytics Club, agreed with Pescudor that time management was one of the most important lessons from the event.
“For any position or any company you have to start from the bottom. Working hard was a big take away,” said Barot.
Groff emphasized that education matters, not just formal education but experience in life.
“It’s a lifetime of learning. I’m still learning today. If I don’t learn something every day, I think I’ve wasted today. I’ve got to learn something to make my life better,” said Groff.
The next Titan Future Leaders event will take place on Monday, April 29 in the evening and will be the last session of the semester.
“I believe in a saying, leaders are made not born, that our collective experiences and education help to prepare us for the situation,” said Pang.