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Pattullo Executive Speaker Series Kicks Off

John Rockwell ’79 and Dot Proux ’86 Lead the Way

"In an economy where corporations are careful about new hires, students need every possible advantage,” said alumnus Scott Pattullo ’81. A crucial part of business education is the opportunity to network with professionals in the industry.

Graduates with pre-existing professional contacts fare better in their search, particularly in a difficult economy. Because Michigan Tech is located far from large cities, it is often challenging for students to make personal connections with professionals in large corporations. 

"We believe that the Executive Speaker Series will make a difference for students, and we’re excited about building a campus tradition. "Scott Pattullo '81

A new program led by the School of Business and Economics takes advantage of Houghton’s remote location and brings the corporate world to Michigan Tech. The Pattullo Executive Speaker Series, spearheaded and funded by Pattullo, brings alumni executives to campus to build relationships with students and faculty.

The initial School of Business and Economics alumni brought in were Dot Proux ’86, and John Rockwell ’79. Other disciplines also brought in speakers who met with students during their visit.

Scott Pattullo
Scott Pattullo

The program adds unique value to the education at Michigan Tech, giving students the opportunity to get to know business professionals on a personal level as well as in a professional capacity. “In many of the larger business schools, students see famous faces pass through regularly, but after an hour-long speech, the speakers are gone,” said Pattullo. “With the Executive Speaker Series, we aim to create a different, more personal dynamic.”

Participating executives will spend a full weekend on campus, speaking to students and spending time in classes, clubs, social gatherings, and extracurricular activities. “We want executives to be busy from sunup to sundown,” said Pattullo. “We encourage them to be active in as many ways as possible: speaking in classrooms, eating dinner in the residence halls, going skiing with students, or playing basketball in the SDC. They’re not just tourists—they will really build strong connections with students.”

With such close access to visiting executives, students will have the unparalleled opportunity to build relationships, gain insight, and ask questions. The connections students form during interactions with the visiting executives can open doors for jobs and internships, create mentoring relationships, and provide invaluable networking opportunities. “ Those relationships can lead to jobs and personal recommendations down the line,” said Pattullo. “In an economy where corporations are careful about new hires, students need every possible advantage.” 

The Executive Speaker Series is designed to benefit students of all disciplines. The pool of speakers will be dominated by executives with both technical and business expertise, making them valuable resources for all students, regardless of major. Each speaker is a leader in his or her field and brings a unique perspective on business education and careers in both technical and nontechnical fields. With speakers chosen more than a semester in advance, professors across campus will be able to work individual presentations directly into the curriculum.

Pattullo, who serves as the senior vice president of sales and marketing at Wheels Inc., modeled the Executive Speaker Series on one he experienced during his MBA at Dartmouth College. A driving force of both programs is geographic isolation, which Pattullo believes creates an accessible, close-knit campus community. He sees the program as an opportunity to give back to the University in a meaningful way. “We believe that the Executive Speaker Series will make a difference for students, and we’re excited about building a campus tradition,” he said.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.