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Grateful alumni pay it forward for next generation of professional sales students

Apr 24, 2017

Vivint GiftProfessional colleagues and former classmates Justin Abdella and Alexander Richards credit the Florida State University College of Business and its FSU Sales Institute with the professional success they have achieved since graduating in 2010. To show their appreciation – and help give current and future professional sales students the same opportunities to excel – the pair made a recent $25,000 donation to the institute.

In addition to their gift, the marketing and entrepreneurship graduates provide summer internships to students majoring in professional sales, marketing and entrepreneurship at their employer, Vivint.SmartHome, the largest provider of smart home automation in the country.

“FSU taught Alex and me how to sell and lead so I know there is real talent at FSU, and hiring students during the summer is a great way to train and build a sales team and sales managers for the future,” said Abdella, who recently ranked No. 3 among company rookies for 2016, his first year with Vivint. “And, really, what better way to have a high-quality team than recruiting directly from the FSU Sales Institute and College of Business?”

At the same time, Abdella said, students who work with him, Alex and their team can earn enough money in a summer to pay all their living expenses for the academic year, allowing them to concentrate on their studies and enjoy the college experience, rather than having to work during the semester. For this upcoming summer, Abdella and Richards have hired about 20 FSU students, and next year they plan to more than double that number. “About 70 percent of sales reps at Vivint are college students,” Abdella said.

As a sophomore, Abdella started LiveLife Co., an apparel business he ran for 10 years. He won the business plan competition, as well as the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship’s business model contest his senior year, partnering with Richards. The experience prepared them to lead a sales team that consistently outperforms other teams at the national company. Last year, their office ranked second companywide.   

“I’m impressed by how well Justin and Alex have performed in their careers, and I’m grateful that they acknowledge the education they received at FSU as a source of their success and that they are going out of their way – financially and otherwise – to make sure our students succeed, too,” said Pat Pallentino, director of the FSU Sales Institute and senior lecturer in professional sales.

Vivint.SmartHome ranks No. 22 on Fast Company’s 2017 list of Most Innovative Companies and is one of 500 U.S. companies on Forbes list of America’s Best Employers.

“My experience at Florida State stretched far beyond textbooks and class work,” said Richards, a sales manager at Vivint. “The university is rich with resources and experiences, so I've always wanted to be able to give back and be a part of that enrichment for future Seminole generations.” 

Photo (from left to right): Pat Pallentino, Justin Abdella, Alexander Richards and Dean Michael D. Hartline.

By Barbara Ash

 

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