Alumnus: The one activity anyone can do to get ahead in business

Friday, June 30, 2017

By: Jabbar Jamison, MBA '12
(Originally published in the Charlotte Business Journal)

I once read an article about what CEOs credited to their success. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan, said he took time to read everything he could to get additional information. More recently, business leaders from Berkshire Hathaway asked what it is like to work for Warren Buffett and said their jobs require them to read 12 hours a day.

While attending UNC Charlotte to earn my MBA, Professor Tony Plath taught his courses by assigning a multitude of articles from The Wall Street Journal and other print media that would act as teaching tools for various finance topics.

Given these examples, I can truly say the more you read, the more equipped you are to understand a myriad of topics. Equally, if not more important, you are able to draw meaningful conclusions and make decisions based on the information that you have read.

Early on in my career as a commercial portfolio manager, my role was to read through business financials, understand the industry dynamics and the regulatory environment around the industry and relate it to local economics to conclude the risks of lending money to a business enterprise. The information was endless.

I read information about corporate-owned life insurance, low-income housing tax credits, shrinkage rates at retail shops, environmental concerns for gas stations and other commercial real estate, the sales cycle for manufacturing companies and other inventory heavy businesses, receivables from contractors, the consumer impact on the hospitality industry (think the recession and no one traveling and spending money on hotel rooms), and the list continues.

These seemingly unrelated topics have a commonality of how the world works. Today, when I am tasked to contact business owners regarding their personal financial well-being, evaluate a personal investment opportunity, help an individual establish credit for a future purchase, make a career change, and/or recommend a financial product to a would-be client, I can draw on my knowledge from all the information I have gathered over the years of reading and learning.

The one pitfall that comes from the abundance of information that we have accessible today is that we cannot have paralysis by analysis. At some point in time, the information-gathering stage is over and a decision must be made.

In fact, I would say that a competitive advantage that I have had in my career is my ability to digest information quickly and draw meaningful conclusions in a condensed time period.

Learning never stops and no matter what position you have in your career, take it as an opportunity to grow to improve your future self.

The world is filled with information and opportunity. Someone will always be smarter, faster and better than you, but make a commitment to yourself to get better every day. Enjoy this short life that we live; fail hard and fast, but pick yourself up faster and grow from it.

Have fun and never take yourself too seriously, but understand that what you are reading right now is the sum of the decisions that you have made up to this point.

What else are you reading?


Jabbar Jamison is a financial services professional at New York Life and an MBA graduate of the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte.

The Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte is the academic partner of #NextGenCLT. The Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte is North Carolina‚Äôs urban research business school. Accredited by AACSB International, the Belk College of Business offers business education programs at the undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and executive levels. Find out more at