For the past seven years, Basil G. Phillips ’66, a magna cum laude graduate of CCNY’s School of Engineering, has been returning to his alma mater to address undergraduates. “I enjoy sharing my experience as an alum,” he says. “It makes me feel that I am giving back a little to the college which gave me so much.” Mr. Phillips, who holds graduate degrees in engineering and business, is a former Exxon International Executive and a successful entrepreneur. Over 18 years ago, he started V.I.P. Reprographics, applying management techniques used in his rise at Exxon. The company is now one of the largest digital reprographics centers in New Jersey. In 2002 Mr. Phillips was appointed Co-Chair of the Congressional Business Advisory Council representing New Jersey. In 2003 he was honored with the N.J. Businessman-of-the-Year award.
The subject of Mr. Phillips’s presentation was “Engineers’ Insights into the World of Business.” “I know,” he said, “that the world of business is where nearly all of you are headed. Whether or not you continue toward your master’s or PhD, at some point you will be best served by having some insight into this world of your dreams.”
Mr. Phillips encouraged his audience to engage in a self analysis in the form of a fictitious calculus integration, in which their present assessment ‘A’ is an integrated function of time:
A = your honest assessment of yourself
“me" = where and how you rate your skills
?? = variables – strengths and weaknesses
f = freshman
s = senior
“The ‘fictitious’ integrated result will be different for every student. It may surprise you to learn that to a great extent, your future depends on this rigorous analysis,” Mr. Phillips said.
The lively Q&A session included questions such as: Can I expect top dollar because I am a CCNY graduate? What insights can you offer to help us get off to a good start? And, what do I need to know to become a successful entrepreneur?
In his answers, Mr. Phillips affirmed the value of CCNY’s reputation, but stressed that a good salary was dependent on students’ academic achievements and communication skills. In emphasizing communications skills, he gave examples of how this asset is an invaluable ingredient to success. “An impressive GPA is the best business card,” he continued. In terms of entrepreneurship, Mr. Phillips encouraged students to carefully identify a demand for the goods and services they wished to present to the market place. “Most importantly,” he said, “you must be prepared to work smart and work hard and manage the risks that are embedded in entrepreneurship.” Networking was the next point which he stressed. “You must find creative ways to get connected,” he said and concluded, “A nice sincere smile and a firm handshake never fail. In other words, leverage the ‘Power of Nice’ as a financial advantage".