When a four-star general serves up career advice, students listen.

Air Force, general, Raymond, student advisory

Gen. John “Jay” Raymond met with Student Advisory Board members on a recent visit to Clemson.

The eyes and ears of eight College of Business Student Advisory Board members were tuned in to what U.S. Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond had to say during his recent visit to Clemson University to serve as grand marshal for the First Friday Parade.

The 1984 graduate of Clemson’s business school shared career and personal experiences with the junior and senior student leaders who advise the dean’s office on student concerns. Raymond’s advice touched on leadership, communication skills, and the importance of students being innovative and open to change.

“If I can do it, you can do it, said Raymond, who leads 38,000 Air Force personnel in his role as commander of the Air Force Space Command at Peterson AFB in Colorado. “I wasn’t on the dean’s list, nor did I light the world on fire while I was here. But I do believe two things that help people succeed, whether they are military or civilian, is to be a good person, and to be a leader.”

The 33-year Air Force veteran oversees the nation’s satellite launch capabilities and ensures friendly forces have access to U.S. space assets. The space command also provides satellite-based weather, communications, intelligence, missile warning and navigation capabilities.

“Your presence here today, shows you are leaders,” Raymond told the students. “Never pass up an opportunity to lead while you’re at Clemson. The more practice you get, the better off you will be.”

Pointing to one of the business school’s tenets, Raymond, the highest ranking military officer to have graduated from any Clemson Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, also urged students to embrace innovation in their studies and careers.

“Looking at my career, one thing I think I’ve done well on is being innovative. Doing something the way it’s always been done isn’t always the best way. Today, more than ever, when resources are tight, we all need to be innovative and look at new ways to get things done.”

As a young missile officer just out of school, Raymond said he didn’t immediately use a lot of the management skills he learned at Clemson. But what did help him early on were his leadership and communication skills that were shaped here.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being able to write and speak with proficiency. If you can write concisely and deliver that two-minute elevator speech without a hitch, you’re going to project yourself professionally. The public speaking class I took is helping me today because speaking to smaller groups like this, and very large audiences, is a big part of my daily life.”

Raymond told students being able to embrace change was crucial to his career advancement, and that they will be even more challenged with change.

“The first time I saw a computer mouse was the summer between my junior and senior years at Clemson. Today, I lead large numbers of highly skilled cyber professionals,” he said. “You can imagine the importance of someone like me being able to adjust. But for you, the frequency of change will even be more. Prepare yourself for a life of adjustments.”

Members of the Student Advisory Board include, Luke Turanski, chair; Abigayle Berendsen, Cameron Gorsline, Grace Hickman, Justine Lacy, Drake Martin, Clayton Pratt and A.J. Speranza.

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