Alumni Entrepreneurs Talk Business

November 11, 2010


(l to r) Stacy Van Praagh (Class of 1993), Tony DeChellis (Class of 1984) and Lindsay Phillips (Class of 2007)

On November 4, Rollins hosted the “Distinguished Alumni: Business and Entrepreneurship” panel which gave three Rollins alumni the chance to share their insights. Stacy Van Praagh (Class of 1993) spoke about her journey through the fashion industry, being employed under various fashion labels until she finally landed her current job as president of Fendi. Tony DeChellis (Class of 1984) had a history on Wall Street and now works for the Credit Suisse Bank. And, although Lindsay Phillips (Class of 2007) only graduated from Rollins a few years ago, she already owns her own shoe and accessory business known as SwitchFlops.

During the discussion, the alumni talked about their experience at Rollins and how it influenced their career paths. Van Praagh originally majored in international relations with a minor in political science, but she ended up in the fashion industry because “at the end of my years at Rollins, I realized I really hated politics.” Phillips, on the other hand, had known that she wanted to open her own business since she was 16. After she graduated, “I just followed my dreams,” she told the panel attendees. DeChellis had a very different reason from his counterparts for choosing his career. He explained that most of his friends went onto either run their own businesses or entered into Wall Street and he decided that Wall Street seemed like a good idea for him as well.

The two main topics of the panels were Rollins’ influence on the alumni and their advice for future Rollins graduates. DeChellis believed that his success both at Credit Suisse and on Wall Street was due to his liberal arts education; “Rollins taught me how to think, not what to think.” Phillips said that Rollins taught her how to be more social, which is a skill she encouraged everyone to learn if they wished to succeed both in an interview and at a workplace. Van Praagh stated that the amount of work she did at Rollins trained her for the amount of work she would have to do in real life.

Their parting words were to be persistent and confident, to pursue internships that are not at the company they wish to ultimately be employed at so they can gain more experience in their field of interest, and to use the education they acquire at Rollins and the people they meet to build up a social network that will someday help them to succeed.

View more photos from this panel.

By Julia Campbell (Class of 2014)

Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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