Every fall the Nebraska Alumni Association selects a group of elite alumni masters to represent each college, and share their experiences and knowledge with students. Mark Chronister ’73 returned to his alma mater to represent the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration as its 2016 master. Chronister, a partner with Templeton Laird in Minneapolis, devoted his career to building bridges between business, education and non-profit service, including working as a partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers for 34 years. He met with CBA students, faculty and staff, bringing a message of optimism and resilience as keys to finding one’s way in both business and life.
“Change is constant whether in market forces, regulations or a leadership change that causes a whole new vision to be presented to you,” said Chronister. “I try to go with those changes instead of trying to predict how things will look in the end. Change comes just like winter but instead of trying to predict it, I practice resilience to better respond to change. The idea of not judging and letting things happen allows me to notice more of the little things going on, and even lets me be grateful for disappointments because they can lead me somewhere new.”
He tries to stay in touch with CBA and sees great opportunities for business students today. He believes student understanding of the bigger picture has grown since he was in college, in large part because of a broader focus taking place in the classroom.
“Student awareness of the fullness and broadness of life goes far beyond technical knowledge these days. I attribute that to faculty and support systems available to students we did not have when I went to school. Faculty talk about culture in the classroom and culture drives impressions. A supportive culture takes you further even without as great a knowledge base. In today’s workplace, it’s more important than ever to utilize your people skills and actively listen in every conversation,” he said.
Chronister, an accounting major at CBA, encourages people to avoid getting caught up in reactionary situations. One of his great elixirs is taking ten minutes each day to rest with a glass of green tea in hand. He affirms each person needs to find their own way to relax.
“Slow down, take a breath and realize that even when something comes up you think you cannot handle yourself, working with others may be the solution to getting it done. In public accounting there is often pressure to make fast decisions. Sometimes my job is to listen or wait a day, because problems do not always resolve themselves by having an immediate discussion,” said Chronister.
Chronister, who grew up in Schuyler, Nebraska, serves as board chair for the University of Nebraska Foundation, as well as a host of other educational boards. He participated in a panel discussion with the other masters, and also met with many CBA groups including accounting students, CBA Honors Academy students, Clifton Strengths Institute students, CBA staff and the Nebraska Alumni Association.