EL PASO, Texas – Ron Pressman, CEO of Institutional Financial Services at TIAA, spent time with students from The University of Texas at El Paso Monday, March 6, 2017, talking about financial issues, but also sharing advice on how to be successful professionals.
Pressman, a strong proponent of education, diversity and cultivating leadership potential, told about 140 undergraduate students in an operation and supply chain management class that they should be adventurous as they consider their careers. He advised them to set goals, keep learning, be ready and willing to help others, and to not overthink their career moves.
He added that they should use their time at UTEP to develop their hard technical skills, but also soft skills such as how to be a critical thinker and a leader who can influence others.
His 60-minute presentation included a short biography of the eclectic positions he held at General Electric before moving in 2012 to TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services organization based in New York City, where he seeks ways to build the 99-year-old company through innovation. His presentation and question-and-answer session that followed brought up such topics as different types of leadership, how to navigate times of change, ways to create an inclusive culture, and how to challenge the status quo to foster innovation.
“It’s an exciting aspect of my job to see all these young people,” Pressman said after his presentation inside the Business Administration Building. He also had met with about a dozen graduate students earlier in the day at UTEP’s Graduate Business Center in downtown El Paso. “These folks are going to be leading this country over the next 20 to 30 years. They are a great source of future talent for companies like TIAA.”
Pressman’s visit also involved meetings with UTEP faculty and administrators to include University President Diana Natalicio and Robert Nachtmann, DBA, dean of the College of Business Administration. Among Pressman’s topics was “Financial Innovation in Higher Ed.”
Nachtmann said Pressman was invited to UTEP because of his reputation of enjoying “boots on the ground” student engagement and to show him the University’s unique story of enabling more students of modest means to attend, achieve and succeed in higher education.
TIAA serves 16,000 institutional clients to include The University of Texas System institutions, and is a leading provider of financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural and government fields, with $915 billion in assets under management.
Nachtmann said TIAA is branching into assisting institutions of higher education to evaluate how they can utilize their assets to finance higher education, which is an area of great interest to President Natalicio, who also is an innovator in this area. The focus is to keep tuition costs low to enable more of the region’s students to attend UTEP. He said Pressman was gathering information that would generate ideas, and sharing concepts that could benefit the University.
“Our main goal is to get more students from this region educated,” Nachtmann said. “For that, we need financial resources. That is the biggest constraint.”