May 25, 2019  

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Southern Miss Gulf Park College of Business Concludes Lecture Series with Visit from Local Entrepreneurs

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Speakers Frank Wilem (left) and Dave Dennis (right) join Dr. Beth LaFleur for “Executives On: Entrepreneurship,” the conclusion of the College of Business lecture series. (University Communications photo by Arlicia Jordan)

The College of Business at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus concluded its Executives On: Lecture Series April 19 with a large gathering of students, alumni and community members.

Closing with “Executives On: Entrepreneurship,” guest speakers included local entrepreneurs Dave Dennis, president of Specialty Contractors & Associates, Inc., and Frank Wilem, writer and co-founder of Triton Systems, Inc.

“Executives on: Entrepreneurship had a significant impact on our students and faculty as Dave Dennis and Frank Wilem shared their experiences as successful entrepreneurs and offered valuable advice,” said Dr. Beth LaFleur, associate dean for the College of Business at Gulf Park and director of the University’s MBA program. “Entrepreneurship requires passion for the business, integrity, outstanding customer service and a willingness to take risks.”

During the presentation, Wilem and Dennis provided the audience with the lessons they learned throughout their professional careers as entrepreneurs while also giving tips on how to navigate the obstacles that may occur in free enterprise. They also encouraged the students to pursue their dreams and reminded them that whatever they decided to do, they must “enjoy it.”

“You have to have passion in whatever you do, and you have to take the risk to get the reward,” said Dennis. “If you put your heart and soul into it, it will lift up.”

According to graduating senior and marketing student Cole Archer, who is also a budding entrepreneur, the panel discussion “was an opportunity to hear from real entrepreneurs who started with nothing but a few dollars; a hope and a dream; and most important of all, heart.”

“The speakers shared stories of their own personal roads to success and all the bumps along the way. In my opinion, hearing the ‘been there, done that’ life-experience stories, from successful leaders in that risky field, is priceless,” said Cole.

Also in attendance was Southern Miss alumna Chantel Barkum, who graduated from the University in 2010 with her bachelor’s degree in marketing. Barkum is the founder of Revamp Business Solutions, her own entrepreneurial adventure.

“Gaining insight from successful and experienced professionals in the community really adds value to presentations alike,” said Barkum. “I hope it was a learning experience for the students. Being able to hear the paths and journeys of others may provide direction as to what they pursue in life.”

Sponsored by Gulf Coast businessman Joseph F. Boardman, the lecture series provided a learning opportunity for students and faculty to gain valuable knowledge from some of the Gulf Coast’s business leaders. 

“The College of Business appreciates the engagement and support of the Coast business community, and we look forward to continuing this series next year,” said LaFleur.