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Naveen Jindal School of Management Alumni Spotlight

From real estate to healthcare management, to information technology and finance, we are proud to shine a spotlight on some of our alumni whose career paths are representative of the many employment options to which a degree from the Naveen Jindal School of Management can lead. With more than 29,000 alumni, the Jindal School is impacting the culture of business in the U.S. and beyond.

The following JSOM graduates agreed to have their information posted. If you are an alumnus and willing to share your information, please contact Caroline Mandel, Assistant Director, Development Communications and Donor Relations

David Smithen, MBA’05 Americas Transactions Manager, Cushman & Wakefield Right after graduating from college, Smithen worked with juvenile delinquents at Texas Youth Commission (now the Texas Juvenile Justice Department). Because he had experience playing soccer, his peers voted for him to be the dorm soccer coach. “It was really rewarding to see these troubled kids blossom with pride when they won the campus-wide soccer tournament,” he recalls. “Leading teams to success gives me much greater fulfillment than financial success alone.”
David Smithen and his wife, Michelle, traveled to Chile recently.
David Smithen and his wife, Michelle, traveled to Chile recently.
Tell us the highlights of your professional career.
I have worked in real estate for most of my professional career—more than 18 years. During that time, I’ve worked in a number of large corporations including Blockbuster, Comerica Bank and Cushman & Wakefield. The highlights of my career have revolved around mentoring relationships. I’ve had some great mentors and I’ve gained far greater reward from mentoring and leading teams than from any real estate deal I’ve completed. 
What brought you to UT Dallas?
I believed I needed a business degree because I had earned an undergraduate degree in sociology. Prior to starting the part-time MBA program, I thought of UT Dallas as a typical state school. Little did I know how my studies would challenge, stretch and equip me for a future in the business world.

What is your favorite UT Dallas memory?
I consider myself a pretty decent Ping-Pong player. One day, while studying in the Student Union, I noticed some international students playing and asked to join in. It was a humbling experience, as I recall.
Who was your favorite professor?
I really enjoyed Dr. David Springate’s entrepreneurship class. He taught using a Socratic method. I enjoyed the fun, engaging environment of that class. 
What’s the best advice you have received?
Let the quality of your work speak for itself.
What advice do you have for students hoping to succeed in the business world?
Be patient, do a good job and work hard in your 20s, but don’t get too excited about being in a position of influence/importance too quickly. No one will trust you with significant responsibility until you are near 40, as a general rule. Work hard, have fun but be realistic.
What makes an effective leader?
An effective leader looks out for the best interests of others and the team as a whole, before himself or herself. Humility, compassion, consistency, patience – but mostly humility.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like to serve in my local church, work out, spend time with my wife and kids, and go skiing whenever I can. I grew up in Montana so I have enjoyed skiing from a young age. Each year, I try to take our family to the slopes for vacations.