Remember the ‘Why’: UWG Alum, CEO Returns to Campus for McCalman Roundtable
Thursday, May 30th, 2019
A University of West Georgia alumnus who has reached the top of his chosen industry returned to campus recently to share the philosophies that led to his success.
David Amerson was recently the keynote speaker for the Merryl and Hardy McCalman Executive Roundtable, an event hosted by the Richards College of Business. He served as president and CEO of NeoTract Inc. before the company was successfully acquired by Teleflex for $1.1 billion and currently serves as president and general manager for Teleflex, a global provider of medical technologies.
During his time back in Carrollton, Amerson reflected on how much had changed since he graduated with a degree in political science in the mid-1980s and shared the drivers of his personal success and that of the companies he’s led.
“There are several things everyone can do that require zero talent,” Amerson said to a collected audience that included UWG students, faculty and staff, as well as representatives from local businesses. “Being on time; showing effort; having energy; being coachable; and going the extra mile are just a few.”
The McCalman Executive Roundtable was established to enhance the professional and personal growth of business students, providing them an opportunity to hear from distinguished leaders on creative ideas and successful journeys.
The roundtable’s membership is chosen to provide a balance between high-achieving students, interesting faculty and dynamic representatives of industry. Students are invited to join if they show integrity in campus relationships and appear to be highly motivated to earn positions of leadership.
Andrea Nevil, a junior studying marketing and management, said being able to network with business leaders who are established in their fields was an invaluable opportunity.
“Since I’m still a junior, I have some time before I have to make any firm decisions about what type of career I want to have,” Nevil said. “Speaking with the faculty and business leaders here today, I have a better idea of where to start and how to achieve my goals.”
Nevil said she also appreciated the event’s “informal vibe,” a hallmark of the McCalman Roundtable.
“I had more of a chance to get involved and develop relationships with people I met,” Nevil said. “I really feel like my network has grown just from this one event. It’s not every day you get to meet successful business leaders who are interested in what you want to do for the rest of your life and are willing to share tips on how to get there.”
During the event, the audience hears from the keynote speaker who – at the end of his or her presentation – poses a question to each of the tables to discuss. A student at each of the tables must present an answer and earns the chance to ask the keynote speaker a question of his or her own.
Willie Candler, a junior majoring in marketing and real estate, spoke for his table, saying he appreciated hearing how Amerson exemplified his leadership in the face of both success and challenge.
“As a student-athlete, I know my hopeful career in sports may not last forever,” Candler said. “That’s why I want to take what I’ve learned in class and at events like this and apply it in the business world. Being able to have this level of access to professors, administrators and business leaders shows this is a truly strong, close-knit community that wants me to succeed.”
Amerson – who has spoken at numerous prestigious conferences, including a panel at the Stanford University Byers Center for Biodesign and the Medtech Conference – advocated three success drivers during his keynote speech: building a great culture; focusing and tracking what matters; and managing change.
“We talk a lot in our office about being above or below the line,” Amerson said. “If you’re above the line, you see possibilities and feel empowered to make decisions. You hold yourselves accountable for those decisions, too.”
“Below the line,” Amerson said, is the realm of blaming, denial, excuses and self-victimization.
“A culture of staying above the line is what a successful company has to build,” he said. “It’s important to consistently remind everyone at all levels of the enterprise of the ‘why.’ Why are we doing this? For us, it’s the patients and their health. As long as they stay at the top of everything we do, everything else will follow.”