From Beloit to the President of the world’s leading manufacturing company
From his first job at United Alloys, the world’s leading processor of alloy scraps, Luke Jaynes ’07 walks us through his journey starting as a Technical Salesperson to the President of the company.
Even though it was a long time ago when looking back at your high school years, could you share with us some of the experiences that helped shape and prepare you for college?
I participated in church activities, got involved in sports (football), and joined the 4-H program during my high school years. I think these activities, combined with the influence of my family, really helped shape and prepare me for college. I was able to carry with me the ability and willingness to collaborate with people from different backgrounds to college and my current career. I would recommend any high school students get involved as much as possible, meeting and learning from as many people as possible.
What made you choose Beloit College as a place to study?
I was looking for a school where I could continue participating in sports and activities and get an excellent education. I also wanted to meet a diverse group of people that I could connect with and learn from. That’s why Beloit was a perfect place for me. Its tight-knit community made me feel that I could genuinely be part of the community, unlike other bigger public schools. Also, Beloit’s reputation for having a rigorous academic program and a strong focus on international college components stood out to me and made me attend there.
How was your transition from high school to college?
The transition, for me, was pretty easy. Thanks to Beloit’s small and tight-knit community, I got to know people quickly to easily navigate and adapt to college life without even noticing that I was transitioning from high school to college. Also, people living on campus were supportive and friendly; they were always welcoming and willing to help me engage with the school in general.
What are your majors and minors, if any? When did you declare each of these? Were they your intended plan or something you found out along the way?
My major is Business Administration, and I believe I declared it after my first semester at Beloit College. Initially, I planned to go into the Pharmacy field, but once I got to college, I realized I really didn’t get excited about Chemistry. Chemistry didn’t come naturally to me. In the meantime, I was excited to learn more about Economics and how world economies work as Economics drives the world and businesses make things possible. So that’s why I chose to declare my major in Business Economics.
What were some of your favorite courses at Beloit? Would you say these courses have helped shape your career in some way?
Quantitative Methods with Professor Jeff Adams was my favorite as it was the most challenging and rewarding. I always think that my most significant achievement during my sophomore year is finishing my final project and passing the course. The professor and the course’s material were tough on me. However, I have learned and gained many of my current characteristics from that class. I learned to become more perseverant. I also learned to always strive for the best and focus on perfection in whatever I work on. Another course also contributed to my growth is Entrepreneurship with Professor Jerry Gustafson in my sophomore year. The course ignited my entrepreneurial dream and helped prepare me for various challenges in the business world. Professor Jerry has always encouraged me to continue to think big and always look at the bigger picture whenever encountering challenges. That has influenced me in my role as President today.
You mentioned that you were thrilled with being allowed to continue pursuing football in college. Could you share with us some of your fondest memories with the team?
Football was a big part of Beloit for me. It was not simply about me enjoying the sport itself. It was more about the connections, the amazing coaching, and the lifelong friendships created there. My coach and my teammates played a crucial role in defining the person I am today. I have learned about teamwork, dedication, and how to handle adversity through football. I remember that our football team had a really good time competing in Division 3 and receiving a Varsity Football Award Winner for 4 consecutive years. All the memories kind of blend together for me, but my appreciation and gratitude towards them always remain the same. Not just only within the Football team, I’ve met so many amazing people from all over the world on-campus and learned from them to stretch my thinking. Just talking to people was valuable for me.
How did you manage to balance your senior year between maintaining good performance in classes and your football teams and preparing for life after graduation?
My senior year was challenging when trying to balance school work along with transitioning to work-life. I found it hard to manage my time and struggled to get my work done back then. However, as I mentioned, I really appreciate the support and encouragement I received from Beloit’s professors. Professor Jeff Adams, Professor Jerry Gustafson, and Professor Bob Elder helped guide me through that challenging period. I was struggling with what life would be like after school, but each professor took the time to talk to me about potential opportunities. They also encouraged me to go to Econ day where I was able to network with a lot of people and learn about potential careers.
What paths did you take from graduation to your current position?
I started my first job as a Technical Sales at United Alloys and continue staying with the company until now. My career journey all began with me asking for an opportunity to learn about the business world. I spent my first few years working in many different areas, such as production, quality, engineering, and estimating (to name a few), to experience and have an overview of how the company operates and how each position works. After thoroughly getting familiar with the company’s products, I gained the confidence to speak as a trusted advisor to our customers and enjoyed doing so. That was when I decided to follow the sales career path since I knew our company inside and out and could advise our customers on the best solutions. I was able to leverage my skills and knowledge through different positions, from Technical Sales to Key Account Manager, and then Manager of Sales and Vice President of Sales. Ultimately, my success with our customers led to my promotion in 2020 to the company’s President.
What pieces of advice would you give to seniors who are preparing for their first job after graduation? What should they be aware of when entering their professional career?
My biggest advice for seniors who are about to enter any entry-level positions is to be humble and inquisitive. Continue to be open to learning and growing. The more you learn, the more valuable you become to a company, and the more success you gain in your career.