Liberty University School of Business students participated in a question-and-answer session with Siegfried Behrens, president of global sales at Blackboard, Inc., on Monday in the Williams Stadium tower for the school’s fourth alternative convocation of the semester.
Before joining Blackboard as a top executive, Behrens worked at Microsoft Corp. for 16 years as a general manager serving over 85 million students and teachers from elementary through college.
Blackboard works with thousands of schools, from elementary through higher education, as well as corporate and government entities, to provide and service cutting-edge educational resources for the digital age. Liberty utilizes the Blackboard portal for both residential and online courses, providing access to course material and allowing students to interact digitally in discussion boards, quizzes, exams, and virtual presentations.
Behrens explained to students his career journey, first pursuing aviation, international business, and politics before achieving success in the business world. He said all of his failures shaped his character.
“If you believe in yourself, you can be anything you want to be in life. If you are focusing on a goal that has an importance to you, then you will be happy and you will be fulfilled,” Behrens said.
He had three main pieces of advice for students: whatever career you choose make sure it is challenging or else you will become bored with it; you have to have a passion for it and an interest; and make sure you have the aptitude for the vocation.
One student asked if there were any books that inspired him. Behrens said Colin Powell’s book “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership” explains when you are angry you need to get over it.
“That skill has helped him to remain calm in many business situations,” Behrens said.
Another student asked Behrens what skills he suggests students learn while in school.
“I would say do as much as you can in volunteering within a nonprofit because that is most impressive and impactful. Anything you can show that you have worked on developing yourself as a person will help you get your dream job,” Behrens said.