Wiggins encourages graduates to become servant leaders, lifelong learners

Susan S. Wiggins of the Columbus, Ga.-based W.C. Bradley Company addresses graduates during Friday's commencement ceremony.

Susan S. Wiggins of the Columbus, Ga.-based W.C. Bradley Company addresses graduates during Friday's commencement ceremony.

Susan S. Wiggins, vice president of stakeholder at W.C. Bradley Co., on Friday encouraged Troy University graduates to strive to become servant leaders who make an impact on their communities.

Wiggins delivered the keynote address to the nearly 100 graduates taking part in the joint commencement ceremony for the Phenix City Campus and the Columbus/Fort Benning locations at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.

“Whether you realize it or not, you are among this country’s most educated segment of the population,” she told the graduates. “The U.S. Census Bureau notes only about a third of the adult population in this country has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and in this area, that figure drops to about 25 percent. So you are in the top 25 percent of this region, and you have something that no one can ever take away from you – an education.”

Wiggins pointed to three elements her company’s human resources department looks for when considering the hiring of new college graduates – servant leadership, ability to work together with others and the drive to be lifelong learners.

“I asked our HR Officer Matt Barkley what he looks for in college graduates – those who may not have had the opportunity to gain a tremendous amount of work experience,” she said. “He told me that he looks for three things. He looks for servant leaders – those that have sought to make a difference and build a better world. He also looks for those who are willing and capable of working together with others as a part of a team. We seldom accomplish anything in life on our own, so the ability to work together with others is important and will serve us well throughout our lives. And finally, Matt said he looks for those who possess the mentality to be lifelong learners. I encourage you to develop and keep that mindset. The world changes at such a high rate, you will have to be ready to continue learning from this point forward.”

Integrity, stewardship, caring for others and respect for the individual have been the keys to the long-term success of the W.C. Bradley Company, Wiggins said. Those attributes would also serve graduates well as they seek out success in life.

“The Bradley Company is going into its sixth generation of family ownership, involvement and direction, which is almost unheard of for a family-owned company,” she said. “That underpinning of servant leadership and that philosophy and mentality is the reason the company is stronger today financially than ever before. Incorporating that same mentality in your own life will take you far as you embark on the next chapter of your life.”

Wiggins has been employed with W.C. Bradley since 1980 and served as vice president of stakeholder relations since 1992 when she became the company’s first woman officer. W.C. Bradley is an international marketer of quality leisure lifestyle products featuring brands such as Char-Broil, Tiki, Lamplight, Zebco, Quantum, Fin-Nor, among others and local real estate developments, including, among others, the Eagle & Phenix loft condominiums, Synovus Centre, The Rapids and Brookstone Centre.