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HSB Hosts the 2011 Business Forum for Young Professionals


Dr. Jim Taylor and J. Hunt Perkins, with the members of the 2011 Business Forum. From left to right: J. Hunt Perkins, Mira Ball, Dr. Jim Taylor, Damir Kantardzic, and Chad Gardner. Not pictured: Tammie Taylor

Williamsburg, Ky. - The Hutton School of Business at University of the Cumberlands (UC) on April 13 hosted its fourth annual Business Forum for Young Professionals.

The business forum has been designed to prepare young professionals as they enter the business workforce. Industry professionals share their professional experiences and discuss ways in which businesses can thrive, not just survive, in any financial climate. The theme for 2011 was “Poise for Recovery: Business Strategies for Moving toward Growth.”

Mira Ball, the CFO and Secretary-Treasurer of Ball Homes, LLC in Lexington addressed the topics on, “Adapting a Business to Weather an Economic Downturn.”

Chad Gardner, Attorney-at-Law with a solo practice in Louisville, focused his speech to the group on, “Beyond Academics: Some Things they May Not Teach You in Business School.”

Damir Kantardzic, is the President of ASAP Automation, LLC based in Louisville. He helped students understand about, “Breakthrough Automation Technologies.” To learn more about ASAP Automotion, please visit ASAP Auto

Tammie Taylor, President of R.J. Corman Railroad Group in Nicholasville, discussed with the students about, “Diversifying Your Service Offerings to Your Existing Customers.

All guest speakers upon arrival are given a host for the duration of the event to show them around and to assist them with any help they may need. The four hosts to show the speakers around were Courtney Ward (Jacksboro, TN), William Marshall (Lynch, KY), Kyle Creekmore (Williamsburg, KY), and Maggie Hughes (Xenia, OH). Every year Mr. Perkins is provided a host as well and Camden Bonardi (Springboro, OH) had the privilege of showing him around in 2011.

“It’s a good experience to see how the business field really is and get to see the opinions of the business professionals on how they run their businesses,” exclaimed Camden. “Mr. Perkins was a funny guy and I’m very thankful for the chance to show him around and for him putting this event on.”

The forum is the brainchild of J. Hunt Perkins, who makes the program possible. Perkins, a geologist, is president of J. Hunt Perkins and Associates, Inc.; a Lexington firm established in 1983 that specializes in oil and gas exploration services, gas well drilling and field exploration services. A current member of Cumberlands Board of Trustees, his strong association with the university extends back to when his mother served more than ten years as the bursar for Cumberland College.

During the actual Business Forum there are two sessions that allow students the opportunity to listen and learn from two different speakers. Each session lasts 50 minutes and at the end of the forum there is a closing session that allows for questions. “I learned that even through a recession, with the right strategy, a business can still grow and prosper,” said UC student Jeff Davison (Brentwood, TN).

Hosted by Sigma Beta Delta, the Business Department’s Honor Society, the guest speakers were treated to dinner the night before at the Cumberland Inn. Then after the Business Forum took place the guests were treated to a luncheon hosted by the Business Club.

“The Business Forum is very beneficial for me every year and this year I was able to learn a lot of strategies to help get me through an economic downturn like the one facing America now,” stated UC student Kendra McCollum (Paint Lick, KY).

What makes this event so unique is the guest speakers that agree to attend the Business Forum for Young Professionals and give a lecture on various topics. All guests that accept the invitation to come to Williamsburg for a few days travel at their own expense. Every speaker the Hutton School of Business has hosted has agreed to do so for “Free” to give back to the students. The Business Department is able to draw in big name presidents, CEOs, etc that are interested in mentoring and promoting young professionals which is why they come.

“The goal of this event is to bring professionals to campus to share their expertise and for students to have an opportunity to network,” said Dr. Margaret Combs, Head of the Business Department. “The business forum also gives students the experience of being in a true professional conference.”

Plans for next year’s Business Forum are already underway and it looks to be another great group of guest speakers that will take to the classrooms at the Hutton School of Business in April of 2012.