Richard Noll, CEO and chairman of Hanesbrands Inc., speaks at only one college each year. On Tuesday, Oct. 2, he spoke in the East Academic Building at Webster University.
Hanesbrands Inc. is the No. 512 company on the Fortune 1000 list, which ranks the largest U.S. companies based on revenues. Hanesbrands is responsible for clothing brands such as Champion, Hanes, Playtex and many others. Noll’s company operates in 25 different countries and has hired celebrities such as Michael Jordan to endorse its products.
Noll typically gives a speech about the trends of business markets when visiting universities. He speaks about what he calls “mega trends” and how recognizing them is the key to a successful career in all professions.
“One of the things is that over time you learn things,” Noll said. “You want to make sure you have the opportunity to share it with people who can learn from it as well.”
Last year, when Noll gave a similar speech at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., he said approximately 100 people attended. Wake Forest has about 5,000 undergraduate students, while Webster has about 2,000 undergraduate students. But Benjamin Akande, dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology, said Webster received attendance from more than 140 students, faculty and community members.
Noll is one of many speakers participating in the Walker Speaker Series. Beginning in 2001, Akande has lined up global corporate leaders to speak at Webster. August Busch IV, then-president/CEO of Anheuser-Busch, Robert Croak, CEO/creator of Silly Bandz, and many others have spoken at Webster as part of the Walker Speaker Series.
“When you look at our list of people that we have brought here, you can see that nobody is too big for us,” Akande said. “It’s about our students. It’s about giving them the exposure that enhances their capacity to be competitive in the marketplace.”
Kathleen Kennedy, a sophomore marketing and advertising major, attended Noll’s speech to take in the free advice.
“It opened my eyes up to the future and what globalization is,” Kennedy said. “It also got me thinking about how I can be better than the guy sitting next to me.”
Noll expressed that the future of all business is globalization. He believes this will be the next “mega trend.” With the idea of globalization in mind, Noll said students should start to build a “well-worn passport.” Each year, Noll spends multiple weeks outside of the United States in order to keep up with the trend.
“It is easier to ride that big mega trend or ride with the wind at your back,” Noll said. “So, you want to position yourself behind a mega trend to get that same kind of advantage.”
The next speaker in the Walker Speaker Series is Ambassador Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Brinker is also the recipient of Webster’s 2012 Person of the Year award. Brinker will speak in the East Academic Building on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 10 a.m.