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Cumberlands hosts Business Forum for Young Professionals


Lawrence Branstetter, one of four presenters, shares his business expertise and life experiences with business students during a session of the Business Forum at the Hutton School of Business of University of the Cumberlands.

Williamsburg, Ky.— The Hutton School of Business of University of the Cumberlands presented its first Business Forum for Young Professionals on April 14-15. This inaugural conference of what promises to be an exciting annual event featured four prominent business professionals and offered business students a rare opportunity to meet these successful leaders, speak with them one-on-one and to attend sessions led by these individuals. The forum was made possible through the efforts of long-time friend, supporter and trustee of the university, Williamsburg native, J. Hunt Perkins.

Perkins said, “It was my pleasure to bring these outstanding, ethical professionals here, so that future business leaders can see that there is more to being successful than the bottom line. These are all individuals who believe in giving something back, and I believe the students appreciated this opportunity.”

Dr. Margaret Combs, addressing the opening session, told the students, “You have received a gift. Usually, conferences like this cost a lot of money, and you have the opportunity to access all this experience and information at no cost to you.”

The forum, which followed the theme of “finding success in uncertain in an uncertain financial environment,” featured Lawrence W. Branstetter, James “Jim” Richardson, Jerome A. “Jerry” Kanney and Roy Jeffcoat.

Branstetter, a former member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, is the president of Branstetter Carroll, an architectural firm specializing in municipal projects, which he started with Michael E. Carroll in 1979. The firm, employing approximately 60 employees, has offices in Lexington, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Louisville.

Jeffcoat, from Anderson, South Carolina, has been active in synthetic fuel research since 1979, and has served on the boards of a number of regulatory agencies.

Kanney, a CPA from Pikeville, has more than18 years experience in the oil and gas industry as a general partner of Interstate Natural Gas Company and president of Crossrock, Inc., a drilling company, which together employ more than 150 individuals.

Richardson, from Lexington, has been director of wealth management and is currently a vice president of Fifth Third Bank. He also has been a teacher, school administrator and professional musician as well as a financial advisor and planner in other companies.

All four individuals have held a variety of positions in civic and professional organizations, and all have received numerous honors and awards not only for their professional achievements but also for their leadership and their contributions to society through their volunteer efforts on behalf of many service, humanitarian and religious organizations.

Each professional spoke in two smaller group sessions and at the closing session, which included all the participating students. In addition to sharing important advice and tips for students who will soon be entering their chosen professional fields, the speakers shared their faith and strongly emphasized the importance of “giving back.” They stressed that with success comes the responsibility to use resources wisely, and they encouraged the students to not only help their fellow humans who are less fortunate but also to serve as mentors in the future.

There were several opportunities for the speakers to talk with students outside the sessions. On Tuesday night there was a reception for students, faculty and staff members to meet the presenters, followed by a dinner at Cumberland Inn. The speakers were always available to participants during breaks as well as before and after the sessions, and there was no shortage of questions. After the closing session, the speakers and business faculty members attended a luncheon at Cumberland Inn hosted by Cumberlands’ chapter of Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society for Business, Management and Administration and by Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), the national student business association, where several students again had the opportunity to interact with the presenters.

The purposes of Sigma Beta Delta are to encourage and recognize scholarship and achievement among students of business, management and administration, and to encourage and promote personal and professional improvement and a life distinguished by honorable service to humankind.

Phi Beta Lambda allows students to enhance communication skills, gain leadership and become exposed to diverse people with different ideas from around the world. Students involved with the organization learn tools of the business trade that will last them a lifetime.