The Right Connections

 

Networking opportunities with top corporate executives – and with one another – give Cameron School alumni a competitive edge

Cameron Executive Network mentor and mentee

What does business have to do with nutrition? A lot, say Liz Roesel ’07 and Arianne Branch ’17. The Cameron School of Business alumnae met when they were paired through the Cameron Executive Network (CEN). One of the school’s signature programs, CEN couples current and retired executives in the Wilmington area with students in pairings that help launch careers and, in Roesel and Branch’s case, businesses. In 2019, Roesel prepared to open a new company, SEA Level Social, which provides marketing services for school district nutrition departments. She asked Branch to join her.

“We help school nutrition programs educate their communities on what they bring to their district and, in turn, feed more students and fuel them for academic success,” Roesel says. “We cannot wait for the day when we can create internship and job opportunities for fellow UNCW alumni while helping school nutrition programs to feed more children.”

The strength of Roesel and Branch’s partnership is hardly an outlier for CEN – or for the Cameron School’s alumni network in general. The strong connection between current and former students – and between fellow alumni – is a hallmark of what makes the Cameron School unique.

“I attended Cameron a long time ago. At the time, it was a unique experience in that UNCW gave you a high-quality education with a small college or university feel,” says Donis Smith '86 '94M, vice president for wealth management at Decision Point Wealth Consulting at UBS in Wilmington. “That close-knit feeling has continued through, even though the university has grown.”

Riley Stephenson ’15 joined the Decision Point team first as an intern and later as a full-time employee, and he quickly benefitted from his Cameron connection with Smith. Although he didn’t work with her directly at first, when she became the team’s practice manager, their mentoring relationship blossomed.

“I respect Donis a lot, because she’s a very successful woman in an industry that is predominantly male,” says Stephenson, a wealth strategy associate for the Decision Point team. “It’s easy to watch how she works and to learn from it.”

In addition to career coaching, Smith – who serves as chair of the UNCW Foundation Board of Directors – encouraged Stephenson to engage with organizations like Leadership Wilmington and reconnect with UNCW as an active alum. Stephenson now serves as president of the Cameron School of Business Alumni Chapter and a member of the UNCW Alumni Board. And just last year, he was named to the Wilmington Star-News’ "40 Under 40" list.

“These mentorships, whether through the Executive Network or just alumni connections, are what help make the CSB unique,” Smith says.

Ensuring that more students have access to Cameron’s nationally ranked business curriculum and powerful networks is a key priority of Like No Other: The Campaign for UNCW. To learn more or make a gift, visit uncw.edu/give.

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