The AJC Cup has been presented to Atlanta area high school students since 1927.
Their success in high school helped shape their profession and determine their success in life.
Four past AJC Cup winners who became business leaders shared their high school memories and updates on their careers.
Occupation: Investment and portfolio manager, Boston
AJC Cup winning year: 1994
Basis of success: Success in classes (math, Spanish and the International Baccalaureate program) and various extracurricular activities (tennis, debate and church activities) made me feel successful. A focus on my family, my church community and school gave me purpose and brought great joy.
Why business? I moved into the study of business after studying engineering in college. The move was driven out of an interest in understanding management level decisions. I was curious to know how big decisions got made and how deals got done. Later I learned that a fundamental understanding of business is a way to understand how the world works. A fundamental understanding of business can empower people to accomplish anything.
Reward of your career: It's finding and researching an investment, concluding that it's a good opportunity, implementing it and knowing that the growth of a portfolio of investments will be used for the greater good in our society. That growth will fund scholarships, support retirees, help conserve our environment and ensure the longevity of our cultural institutions.
Occupation: Regional technical sales manager, ifm efector inc., Newnan
AJC Cup winning year: 1994
Basis of success: I think the biggest factor for me was that the teachers/staff of Fayette County High School and my parents were always encouraging and supportive. Not only to do my best, but to be well rounded and not be afraid to experience different things. This led to me being involved in a number of activities, including sports, fine arts, music, various clubs, along with community involvement. This helped me to adapt to just about any challenge I faced in high school and gave me a lot of confidence. Most important, I learned to balance confidence, success and humility, which I now know was a critical building block to success.
Why business? I chose a path to be a technical sales engineer because it was a great mix of all the things I was good at. I knew each day would present a new challenge with an opportunity to solve unique problems in all types of exciting industries. When it came to technical sales, I was motivated by the fact that the success I helped others achieve in their business was going to be closely proportional to my own personal success.
Reward of your career: First and foremost, I'm able to help others. Whether it's helping my customers solve a technical problem or a member of my team achieve a personal or professional goal, it's a great feeling to be a small piece of that puzzle. I'm blessed to have a career that not only supports my family, but contributes to the success of others.
Occupation: Retired from Merrill Lynch
AJC Cup winning year: 1968
Basis of success: Learning was always pretty easy and I enjoyed the competition and physical exertion of sports. The success came because I was pretty good at both.
Why business? I went into the Air Force as a way to fly and see the world. While there, I became interested in investing, got a master's degree in finance and went to work at Merrill Lynch for 26 years as a financial advisor.
Reward of your career: I enjoyed the Air Force because of the sense of purpose. I enjoyed my time at Merrill because I thought I helped people reach their life goals. There was a great sense of accomplishment in helping someone retire or their children go to college and in being there for them in difficult personal or financial times.
Occupation: Senior solutions consultant/business development manager, Hannon Hill Corp.; President/founding partner of Catalyst Investment Partners Ltd., Atlanta
AJC Cup winning year: 1996
Basis of success: I was salutatorian of my high school class and was selected to give the graduation speech.
Why business? Entrepreneurship and owning a business were always a goal when I was growing up. When I was a child, my mom encouraged me not just to read the newspaper sports page, but also the business page. Later, I realized some of my top role models were business owners and investors, including Reginald Lewis and Warren Buffett. I have a variety of interests, but business provides the freedom to create opportunities for others and have a tremendous impact, whether local or global.
Reward of your career: Starting my own investment business to work with other entrepreneurs to realize their dreams and provide the opportunity for regular people to invest in alternative investments, such as real estate.