College of Business

Ballentine Hall, 7 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881


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Alan Spachman ’71

Alan Spachman

  • Degree: B.S. 1969, M.B.A. 1971
  • Position: Founder, Director, Former CEO & Chairman, National Interstate Corporation

What are some of the ways your experience at URI and the College of Business have had an impact on your career path?

URI prepared me for my first professional jobs with both skills and social experiences that enabled me to contribute to my employers’ objectives. The ability to perform independent research was also something I learned at URI. The biggest single influence from my time at URI came from the encouragement I gained through associating with a single URI professor who believed I could achieve greatness. This professor encouraged me to take risks and do things I would not have been inclined or able to do without his help.

 When you think about your experience as a business student at URI, what are some of the most valuable lessons you learned?

The ability to work as a productive member of a team was critical to my success in business.

What were the best parts of your URI experience?

I cannot over emphasize the importance of being able to interact effectively with peers, superiors, and subordinates in business. These skills were learned in large part as a student at URI. Participation in extracurricular activities contributed to this learning process.

What is most interesting to you about business in today’s world? The most challenging?

The speed of change in business is dramatic. The best practices of today will be obsolete tomorrow. New processes, new products, new technologies are never ending.

What advice would you give to a student today considering a major in business?

Learn the basics in business school and use these new skills to get a job at a world class organization. Learn all you can about what makes that organization world class and then use that knowledge to improve your own business opportunities or those of other organizations.

What do you believe is most important for a new grad entering the workforce to understand?

Getting a good job is just the start to a great career—not the end. Turning a good job opportunity into a great career is a never ending transaction. Setting personal objectives that are stretching but possible will help you determine if your career is on track with the plan you have established. One objective should be to seize every opportunity to grow personally. You will accelerate your probability for timely success if you do. If you become stagnant professionally and personally, success will come later in life than it should. Risk takers achieve greatness more quickly than conservative employees. If you never stick your neck out you will never make mistakes. If you never make a mistake you will have lost an opportunity to learn. If you stop learning you will stop growing and if you aren’t growing you are probably dying. Find a mentor who believes in you and ask for their help. Use them as a sounding board but do not allow them to stifle your success. Your mentor should push you toward greatness and not urge you to exercise restraint. It isn’t the end of the world if you fall on your face and fail at something when you are young. It could be just the opposite. It could lead to a new and better opportunity, one that you are better prepared to master now that you have gained the experience of your failure.



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