Hunter speaks to COB

March 20, 2008

by Casey Ardoin

Stewart Hunter, co-founder and chief operations officer of Benchmark Mortgage in Dallas, spoke to business students last Thursday in the College of Business.

Hunter spoke as Professor for a Day, as part of the lecture program the College of Business holds to allow successful entrepreneurs to give advice to students.

Hunter, a native of Shreveport and former Tech student, said building relationships early in his career allowed him to launch Pon_chatoula’s, lo_cated at 109 E. Park Ave., which opened doors for him.

He urged students to build their own relationships with their peers.

“The people you’re sitting around right now, you have no idea where they’re going, but they’re going somewhere,” Hunter said. “Right now, you could be developing these unbelievable relationships with people all over this campus.”

He said the relationships students build now will help them later on in their career which he called, “the power of who.”

“‘Who’ is so powerful because ‘who’ gets you to the job you want. ‘Who’ helps you get to the city you want to get to. ‘Who’ helps you in every step of your whole life,” Hunter said.

He also said getting involved in campus clubs and organizations and meeting people who share the same passions in life is the foundation of building key relationships.

Another thing Hunter said students could do to move up in the business world is to think differently.

“You get paid for the way you think. If you think like everyone else, you’re going to get paid like everyone else. If you think differently, then your value just went up,” Hunter said.

He said one way to think differently is to read.

“One of the greatest things you can ever do is read,” Hunter said. “What you’re doing [when you read] is getting the best parts of that person at that moment in time. It allows you to think about things differently than you thought about them in the past.”

Hunter also gave students advice on what to do in a job interview.

“Be very clear on your gifts. Know ultimately what you’re gifted at, so when you go into an interview, you know exactly what you’re great at,” Hunter said. “That’s what an employer is looking for; they’re not looking for somebody [who] doesn’t know what they’re great at.”

He also said a humble attitude will go a long way in an interview. He advised students to do little things like stand up when the other person enters the room and thank the person for meeting with them.

“What’s missing in the marketplace right now is a sense of being humble,” Hunter said. “So many times the attitude is ‘what are you going to do for me,’ versus ‘hey here’s what I can do for you.’ When you take that second kind of thought process, it’s a totally differently interview.”

James Lumpkin, dean of the College of Business, said Hunter’s energy, enthusiasm and leadership skills, combined with his core values, have helped Benchmark succeed.

“Hunter plays a vital role in leading one of America’s fastest growing mortgage and banking corporations with nearly 200 branches across the U.S. and ample funding over $3.5 billion in 2007,” Lumpkin said.

Scott Folk, a freshman business and administration major, said he attended the lecture as part of his economics class and enjoyed what Hunter had to say.

“[He] was very insightful in trying to give students ideas on what they can do to develop and transition into the world of business,” Folk said. “I’ll definitely take his advice when I leave here and go into the business world.”