Minute with a Member
National Alumni Society MemberName: James W. (Wes) Smith
Degree and Graduation Year: MBA 1997
Hometown: Ashland, AL
Current Town: Trussville, AL
What is your favorite UAB memory? Starting the UAB MBA Alumni Chapter.
How has UAB impacted your life? UAB changed my life and impacts my life in so many ways. Mayer Electric and Charles Collat are huge supporters in many ways. Charles set the example that got me involved in the University early in my career. Getting my MBA in 1997 changed the trajectory of my career because of the discipline required to work full time and go to school at night and perform at my very best in both.
What made you choose your current profession? Those who care about me, mentor me and gave me the opportunity to reach personal and business goals. For me, it is not about profession, it is about being part of a team that cares about its people, its customers, its suppliers, and its communities. It’s about contributing and making a different.
What lessons has your professional life taught you? That doing the right thing no matter the situation allows you to sleep well at night. Do well and be better is the motto my mentor instilled in me very early in my young, professional life. It makes for a clear road in front of you and is the foundation for success.
What would you do if you were given more time in each day? Spend a little more time telling people they are valued and appreciated. I tend to be very focused and consciously have to work on the people side of things. It is the most important thing.
What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important? Mass produced computer. It simply changed life for everyone, forever.
If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
Health for family and friends.
More focus in the world on what is important.
Success for my children.
If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why? I would not got back to any age. I had that time, I am happier than I have ever been.
Which historical figure do you most identify with and why? Adam Smith – the invisible hand.
If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? Greed – it leads to and is at the root of every bad thing.
What natural gift would you most like to possess? I am thankful for the gifts I have.
What trait do you most value in your friends? Honesty
Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life? There does not need to be a film about my life.
What is your motto? Do well and be better…but I swiped it.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Work hard and do the right thing.
If you could start a charity or non-profit organization, what would it be and why? I would prefer to help as many good, honest, making a difference charities by using the resources and gifts I have been given by giving back. I don’t think the best use of my resources, talents and time would be best used by starting another charity or non-profit. Rather, by helping those who have had the foresight, vision and talent to start very worthwhile entities that are making a difference with what they have, perhaps they would be able to do even more.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Australia – it is a land of extremes.
What is something you are proud of and why? Going from an enlisted electrician in the US Air Force to being a part of a team at a Best Company to work for.
What is the last book you read? America, Imagine a World Without Her
What things do you not like to do? Fix something that was not done right the first time or broken because it was not treated correctly.
Where would you go in a time machine? Everywhere.
What 3 items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? My wife, a boat, and a plane.
Student Alumni Society MemberName: Sadie Foster
Graduation Year: 2015
Major: Medical Industrial Distribution
Hometown: Helena, AL
Why did you choose to attend UAB? I knew I wanted to be in a medically related industry, and that I didn’t want to move too far away from family. Then I found out about the distribution programs offered here at UAB, and everything seemed to fall into place.
Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far and why? I think Elizabeth Turnbull has been my favorite professor here at UAB. At the end of my freshman year, my father passed away. Professor Turnbull took me under her wing and would talk with me through some of the difficult emotions I was experiencing. She went above and beyond and reminded me of why attending a smaller school can be so important.
What is your favorite UAB memory? My favorite memory at UAB has been freshman move in. It was amazing to see so many student organizations welcoming me onto campus that I knew I would love. There was so much opportunity and expectation.
How has UAB impacted your life? It’s allowed me to look into resources that I would not know about. It’s allowed me to reach out to others when I need to. And it has allowed me to remain in college despite the awful tragedy I experienced. Without the faculty and student support services I do not think that I would be graduating on time with a college degree.
What is your current state of mind? I am somewhere between nervous anticipation for graduation and dawning upon the realization that my undergraduate career will be over in less than 8 months.
What do you do for fun? I usually hang out with my two cats, go places with my boyfriend, or attempt to become a great Southern chef (the last one is by far the most difficult).
Who are your heroes in real life? I think that my academic advisor, Kristen Craig, is one of my real life heroes. She is nothing but joy and kind words whenever I see her. She has an uncanny ability to make horrible situations seem a little bit brighter, and she is one of the most caring people I know. I endeavor to become someone like that one day.
If you were given more time in each day, what would you do? I would more than likely binge watch TV shows. But I would need to spend more time organizing and cleaning my apartment, because that’s what seems to be forgetting about until the weekends.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I know it’s cheesy, but I would love to fly. The ability to not be bound in one location would be incredible. Plus, I would save a ton of money on gas!
What is the best invention of your lifetime and why? I think that the medical advances we’ve made in my short life span are amazing. I know there is still a lot of room for more, but I’m happy to know that my alma mater will more than likely contribute many advances.
What are your future goals? I would like to get married and then be a mother someday, and I’d also like to get rid of my black thumb and have a garden that can provide my family with fresh veggies.
What would be your ultimate dream job? I would love to be in a career where I am truly content. I want to be able to manage my expenses and still have a little money to go on vacations and travel the world. The most important aspect of a work life balance is being content at home and excited to see what the work week will bring. I’d love to be an academic advisor at UAB and to be able to do for a future student what has been done for me.
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fiction, with whom would it be? I’d like to trade places with a celebrity around my age like Jennifer Lawrence for a week. That way I could experience fame, but after a week I could go back to being average and walk to Target in gym shorts.
What three items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? I would take an umbrella to avoid sunburn, a set of matches, and my cats.
If you had a theme song, what would it be? I wish my theme song could be something upbeat that requires a dance number. The first song that comes to mind is Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dream.”
If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? I would like to end cancer. My dad had stage 4 colo-rectal cancer by the time the doctors found it, and I would love nothing more than to be able to save another family from having to go through that heartbreak.
What’s the best advice you ever received? “Everyone makes mistakes, and you don’t receive a limited number of them. The difference in a mistake and a bad person is when you learn to pick yourself up and try to go towards the right direction.”