Alumni Leading Our Community

  • Sarah West

    Controller/CFO, Roers
    Accounting and Finance, 2007

    “My professors believed in me, celebrated my successes and challenged me in my failures. They believed I could do more than I thought I could, so I did.”

    As a leader, what is the most important thing you do every day?   

    I pray, read and talk to my people. I can’t know if someone needs help if I’m not seeing and talking to them, and I know anything is possible with God’s help.

    What advice would you give someone striving to improve their leadership skills?

    Read! I’ve always struggled with reading and learned after college the importance of obtaining more knowledge. Since reading is difficult for me, I listen to books on leadership, business, professional or personal development – anything that will continue to add tools to your toolbox. An added benefit to reading/listening regularly is that your language improves, so in conversation you can transfer knowledge easily and in turn help others achieve the lives they desire.

    What professional experience has had the greatest influence in shaping you as a leader?

    Surrounding myself with people who force me to level up. If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Find your advocate too, someone who will raise your hand for you and give you opportunities that you never thought you were capable of.

    What is the greatest challenge of leadership in today’s work force?

    Time. Technology has helped us get our jobs done more efficiently, but it also makes us available 24 hours a day and can distract us from our most valuable resource: our people. It takes time to properly love your people and your work, so being intentional about where time is spent is very important.

    Was there a faculty/staff mentor who inspired you?

    I remember visiting with Dr. Marsha Weber and she told me she was telling her husband about my success in my internship with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. It made me feel like more than just a student; she cared about my success and I wasn’t about to let her down. I still strive to keep all my professors proud as they were an important part of my journey.