Dollar General Executives Offer Business and Leadership Advice to StudentsFebruary 8, 2013

The world is a big place, but for Jim Kopp, ’72, it seems smaller and smaller each day. As someone whose passport looks like a bright collage of stamps, Kopp has done his share of traveling the globe as senior vice president of global strategic sourcing for Dollar General.

As he walked in to interview for this position two years ago, Kopp was once again reminded of how small the world is. He shook hands with his interviewer, Rick Dreiling, ’75, chairman and CEO for Dollar General, and they soon realized that both were Rockhurst University graduates. Furthermore, they had both attended Rockhurst University at the same time, but had never met.

On Thursday, Feb. 7, these reunited alums boarded a plane from Nashville, Tenn., the location of Dollar General’s headquarters, to Kansas City and back to their alma mater.

“I haven’t been back to Rockhurst since graduation,” said Dreiling during a luncheon presentation sponsored by the University’s Executive MBA program. “The campus has changed and grown, but the feeling is still the same.”

At the luncheon, Dreiling spoke to a group of about 50 EMBA alumni, students and prospective students, as well as members of the Rockhurst University Leaders Council.

“This was an excellent opportunity for executive alumni and current students to interact with top-level CEOs and business leaders who have Rockhurst roots,” said Cheryl McConnell, Interim Dean of Rockhurst’s Helzberg School of Management.

In addition to the luncheon presentation, Dreiling and Kopp each gave a presentation to smaller groups of undergraduate business students, offering a glimpse into their jobs, as well as words of wisdom for these future business leaders.

“Often in my career I’ve had to come back to my Jesuit education,” said Kopp during his presentation. “Rockhurst taught me to have an open mind to the possibility of other things. I also learned that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing the right way.”

For many students, their presentations really hit home.

“I’m a Dollar General shopper,” said Dionne Paschal, ’13, who is studying business management. “It was great to learn more about the company and how they operate. Both presenters shared the company’s four key operating principles, which were put in place to keep everyone focused and moving in the same direction. This was a great lesson for someone like me who is looking to go out into the business world and one day manage a team.”

Dreiling closed one of his presentations by offering leadership advice.

“Take risks early in your career,” he said. “Remember that you own your career. Build your network of support and remember that a sense of urgency is worth 50 IQ points.”

View more photos from these three presentations here.

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