During the annual School of Business Symposium Nov.
11 and 12, Oswego students were introduced to several
alumni who have made a name for themselves in the world
of business. With jobs in global operations, financing,
sales and manufacturing, just to name a few, some of
Oswego State’s own hold prestigious positions
in large firms known across the globe.
Oswego State alum James
talks with students during the Business Symposium
in Rich hall about what it’s like to work
in the field of business. Wainright is the Sr.
Vice President of Global Operations for A.O. Smith
Corporation, Electrical Products Company.
James Wainright ’78,
senior vice president of global operations for A.O.
Smith Corp., Electrical Products Division, stressed
that in a business like his, selling electrical motors,
people must be truly immersed in what they are pursuing.
“Whatever industry you get into, you’ve
got to be excited and passionate about it,” Wainright
said in an interview. “You have to have a very
clear vision, strategy, enthusiasm and leadership.”
As senior vice president of a $900 million company,
Wainright is responsible for the strategic direction
of the worldwide manufacturing operations including
business, sales, marketing, product engineering and
Currently residing in Ohio, Wainright explained that
he has moved eight times to get to where he is in his
position. From New Jersey to Syracuse to Pennsylvania,
Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, he has literally followed
his passion across the country.
Wainright is responsible for managing 30 manufacturing
facilities located in the United States, Mexico, Europe
and China as well as 15,000 manufacturing employees.
According to Wainright, the corporation employs about
6,000 employees in Mexico, 4,000 in China, 4,000 in
Europe and 1,000 in the U.S. He travels to Europe and
China about four times a year and to Mexico at least
once a month to make sure that everything is running
smoothly. A.O. Smith Corp. produces 150,000 various
motors globally each day, for appliances such as pool
pumps, fans, air conditioning systems, refrigeration,
ventilation and compressors.
After five years, Wainright is still enthusiastic about
“It’s exciting traveling around to plants,”
he said. “And to see people around the world focused
on similar objectives, working together to make our
Also responsible for his product’s quality and
cost, Wainright deals directly with his clients.
James Wainright ’78
talks with finance and international business
during a one-on-one student session. Wainright
shares his opinions and experiences in the field
while Sterk discusses his future ambitions.
“Interacting with our customers is a key part,”
he said. “A typical house will maybe have a dozen
to two dozen of our motors in it. Usually the product
that I make is the heart of somebody else’s product.”
Steven Abbass ’03
also works with his clients on a daily basis as a managing
director for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.
Since graduating three years ago, Abbass has worked
his way up in the field of finance and management within
Starting at the Syracuse Financial Group, a branch of
the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, as a college
intern Abbass is now one of the youngest managing directors
in the company’s 150-year history.
“It was more work ethic than anything else,”
he said. “My only goal was to be successful.”
Abbass holds many duties as a managing director, including
financial planning, risk management and wealth accumulation.
He is also a disability income specialist, a recruiter
and trainer, and has experience in development. “Everything
having to deal with the day-to-day of running a business,”
Abbass leads 22 financial representatives plus a staff
of five and there is still not enough time in one day
to accomplish everything. A usual schedule for Abbass
includes arriving at the office around 6 a.m. and leaving
around 7 p.m.
After achieving his many accomplishments at such a young
age, Abbass was quick to give advice to those graduates
soon entering the real world. “They need to make
themselves noticeable,” he said.
“Find out what motivates you. I think doing internships
is very important,” he said. “It helped
with what kind of motivation I needed to be successful.”
Including his time spent as a student intern, Abbass
has completed four and a half years with Northwestern
Mutual Financial Network. Working for four years at
the Syracuse branch, Abbass eventually became the internship
director. Under his leadership, the internship program
was ranked third in the country for training the most
He has enjoyed his time working with student interns
and watching them grow and learn from his training.
Carrying on the internship tradition, Abbass looks forward
to being directly involved with the college program
at his new location in Rochester.
Above all, Abbass has enjoyed the opportunity to work
one-on-one with his clients helping them to achieve
their financial goals.
“To have a client give me a hug at the end of
the day and say thank you,” is a reminder of why
he continues to enjoy his chosen profession.
— Emily King ’05
To December 2006 E-Newsletter