Meet the best, learn from the best at Merrick Engages

As a business student, I am often told to have my elevator pitch ready. When this topic comes up, those Wall Street movies come to mind – you know the ones. The young kid who is running his paper route gets into the elevator with the CEO of an investment firm, and by the time they are at the 14th floor, they are business partners. This always left me scratching my head – it seemed so unnatural and unrealistic.

Fortunately, the Dean of the Merrick School, Murray Diezel, created a way for us to meet important business leaders – in an environment much more comfortable than an elevator. In his series, titled Merrick Engages, Diezel invites UB students to join him in conversation with these special guests. This semester, discussions revolve around the tagline, “How well run businesses can make an impact.”

The most recent conversation, held March 2, 2017, featured Lane Epperson and Eric Becker. Epperson is the president and CEO of HiTech Assets, an innovative technology recycling firm. Becker is the founder of Caretta – a private equity firm – investing and developing promising businesses.

Merrick Engages 2_EDITEDLane Epperson gives his perspective on a business topic.

This conversation started off with typical business topics like strategy, innovation, logistics, and management. Sure, topics like sustainability and care for the environment were mentioned, but the focus on profitability still seemed to dominate. I was a little concerned that the talk would never tie back into benefiting the company’s stakeholders.

Midway through the conversation, Becker mentioned something that had nothing to do with profitability. There was something more. He described a time when he was walking around the electronic recycling plant in Oklahoma City. One of the line workers came up and told him how grateful he was for his job. This recollection brought Becker to a moment of profound reflection.

After the formal discussion, I asked Becker to tell me a little more about that situation. He said, “I always knew what I was doing profit wise… but the other part I didn’t realize.” This part, the people part, motivates him as he works towards bringing a new facility to Baltimore. He said that it would be a dream come true for someone from our city to come up to him and thank him for giving them a job.

Merrick Engages 1_EDITEDLeft to right: Lane Epperson, Murray Diezel, Eric Becker.

Wrapping up the discussion, Dean Murray asked each guest to give a recommendation to the students in the audience as they pursue their careers. Epperson gave some advice that everyone at UB should hear. He suggested that we “be unafraid to be uncomfortable… to put ourselves in these situations.” He suggested that intentionally doing this would help us to grow professionally and would give us an edge in the business world.

There are so many events on campus that occur – it can get overwhelming. It is tempting to just block them all out. Attend at least one conversation. Meet the best, learn from the best. The next conversation will be held with Amon Anderson on April 18. RSVP online at


Photos by Zachary Nelson

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