Students Connect with Alum at NetJets to Learn About Possible Sales Careers

Our business students have unique and valuable opportunities beyond the traditional classroom to connect with employers and alumni and learn about their businesses up close.  A great example of this is a recent trip that BGSU students took to the NetJets aviation operations in Columbus. The Senior Vice President and Head of Sales for NetJets, Patrick Gallagher, is an alumnus of BGSU.  He contacted Christine Seiler, who teaches the professional sales course (MKT 4400) and is the BGSU sales team coach, to discuss future recruitment of our sales students at his company.

According to Seiler, “We set up the visit so interested, sales-minded students could see what the company was all about and to spark interest in potential sales careers with NetJets.”  Most of the students who toured NetJets are currently taking Ms. Seiler’s Professional Selling class (MKT 4400) or will be taking it, along with some students who participated in the BGSU Sales Competition.

Seiler adds, "It was an amazing visit. The NetJets sales managers gave us a great history and detailed overview of the company and their sales organization.  What was the most interesting aspect of their fractional jet ownership business was the level of detail that NetJets deals with in servicing their owners.  They have the most incredible technology that they use to track everything from the weather, political climates, and even golf tournament results so that they can ensure that their owners have their planes ready to transport them to whatever location they want to go within four hours of their request."

NetJets is the world leader in private aviation and is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Company. According to Gallagher, the private aviation business is growing steadily after the setback caused by the 2008 recession. “Though we are a smaller company than we were in 2007, NetJets is more profitable today than it was before the recession and our current business model and growth rate are sustainable for the long run, particularly on a global basis. The U.S. has always led the world in private aviation and today accounts for more than half of all private aircraft worldwide, meaning there are as many private jets in the U.S. as there are in the rest of the world combined.”  Gallagher predicts higher global demand as “more and more wealth is being created in other countries.”

The private aviation company executive reflects on his college experience while attending Bowling Green State University. “BGSU was a great experience for me in so many ways.” He was involved with a fraternity and had at least two jobs throughout his college days. Gallagher maintains the strong work ethic that he developed as an undergraduate. “Balancing my school, work, and social calendars was not always easy and it taught me excellent time management skills,” Gallagher says.

Although, he admits that academics were not always a priority, “I was diligent in sticking to the graduation schedule that I had outlined with the help of wonderful advisors early on and I had some great teachers that forever left an impression on me.” He says that the classmates he met while attending BGSU are still some of his closest friends today.

This year, NetJets was added as a sponsor of the BGSU Sales Competition since Gallagher is interested in recruiting sales students from his alma mater. Gallagher describes the type of skills he wants from graduates.  “I look for cognition, commitment, competitiveness and curiosity.  If someone scores high in all of those, they will be successful in any role in any industry.  I want smart people who work very hard and are fiercely competitive. The curiosity piece is priceless in an employee, especially in sales. It’s what allows people to pick things up quickly and find innovative solutions to problems, and in sales it allows you to figure out what your prospect really wants even if he or she doesn’t know.”

Gallagher praises the BGSU sales program and explains that sales positions are lucrative. “Few schools are as forward-thinking as BGSU, so most don’t even consider it a worthwhile course of study. That’s a shame.  If you can sell, you will probably out earn your peers, enjoy a more flexible schedule, deal with lots of interesting people from which you can learn, and you will always have a job. Even if companies downsize, it’s almost unheard of for a good salesperson to be let go.”  He adds that even if you aren’t in a direct sales position, “the skills will serve you well no matter what you do.”