Story: Lisa Sollie
R.J. Miller was back at the University of West Alabama this week, sharing real-world advice with business students for the second time since graduating from UWA sixteen years ago. While on campus, the former athlete, accounting major, and current vice president of financial planning & analysis for Global Payments, Inc., a Georgia-based Fortune 500 company, also met with finance and accounting majors and the UWA baseball team.
Miller’s foray into the company began with a casual conversation with his college roommate and former baseball teammate’s dad. That connection would ultimately jump-start his career and lead the 38-year-old to adopt servant leadership and mentorship as essential tenets of his professional career.
“I’ve been very blessed and fortunate with a great career so far, and it’s not over,” he noted. “The opportunity to come back to UWA and be transparent with the students, sharing some mistakes I’ve made and also give advice that could set them up for possible success down the road, is fulfilling.”
According to Miller, number one is networking and relationships; the more connections, the better.
“Take someone to lunch or coffee that’s in a career you want to be in and not only ask questions but ask them to mentor you,” he advised students. “Take every interaction seriously and always treat others how you want to be treated.”
Miller also encouraged business students to think outside the box and not be afraid to shift their ideas on what they believe their careers will look like. “Accounting majors, for example, don’t always have to take the CPA exam and do public accounting the rest of their lives. The world is huge, and many different opportunities and routes are available. I want them to know it’s okay if it looks different than they envisioned. Networking, being in the right place at the right time, and being bold and meeting people,” Miller concluded, “pays true dividends down the road.”
UWA alumni interested in sharing their career experiences with students can contact their department chair, college dean, or the alumni office.