Eric Tobias: Exposing students to business role models builds career dreams

Keywords Opinion / Viewpoint
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If you would have asked me at 5 years old what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would have said the president. Ask me again at 10 and the answer was probably an NFL player. When I graduated high school, a business executive. I was exposed to these career paths at a young age when I saw them on television or read about them in a book, and they inspired me to dream of what my job might be someday.

Just as I dreamed of becoming the president or playing professional football by observing others, students exposed to the brightest minds of today’s workplaces can see themselves in those roles in the future. Giving young people the chance to shine as early as possible by exposing them to industry leaders and educational programs is the gateway to creating a future generation bound for success.

Junior Achievement’s Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame is an opportunity to share the successes of great leaders in the central Indiana area with students as they begin to find their career path. The four 2021 laureates—Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever, Dr. Lisa Harris of Eskenazi Health, Tom Linebarger of Cummins Inc. and Dave Ricks of Eli Lilly and Co.—have demonstrated a long tenure of leadership, influence and having a positive impact on the community.

At High Alpha, we like to say: “The best is only the best you’ve ever seen.” JA’s Business Hall of Fame exposes students to a new standard through meeting this year’s four laureate inductees, who represent the best in our community. Many kids might not have heard of Cummins or Lilly, but by attending Hall of Fame, they gain exposure to the success of industry leaders when they see real people leading the community.

Attending the Business Hall of Fame Gala is increasingly important to students as they begin to develop their careers. The event provides all attendees the chance to see people at the pinnacle of their careers as well as students discovering what a career will mean to them. JA offers this initiative to help support the business community and its next wave of growth for the city.

It is important to foster and care for the many JA events that have a long tenure and encourage development of the young central Indiana community. Students can find mentors for life to help them navigate the ever-changing job market and career environment.

My original involvement with JA was as a chaperone at JA BizTown, one of many JA programs my children participated in. This involvement grew into a much deeper passion to develop career interests in students looking to pursue business roles in the future.

As adults, we know learning does not just happen in the classroom; a mentor can help you gain exposure to as many opportunities as possible. Supporting the business community and its upcoming leaders is a way to introduce career-seeking kids to the knowledge and life skills essential to fulfilling big dreams.•


Tobias is co-founder and a partner at High Alpha.

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