CVS executive leaves impression on CIU Business student

October 16, 2018

By Joseph Knight

CIU Business & Professional Studies major

Today a speaker taught me to listen.

I was at the bi-monthly business seminar hosted by the CIU School of Business & Professional Studies. The speaker was Dr. Nina Ellison, the national director of Education & Professional Practice for CVS Pharmacies.

Dr. Ellison had a lot to share in that short hour. She discussed her top four picks for essential professional practice, insightful gleanings from her time at CVS, and a bit of her personal story as a missionary kid in East Africa.

But mostly, she had me paying close attention as she talked about listening.

Dr. Ellison shared her experiences about listening to employees: opening up the line of communication to bring more ideas and feedback to the table. She oversees several hundred CVS healthcare professionals nationwide, providing organizational structure training. During her time in this position, Dr. Ellison conducted conference call listening tours focused on hearing employees’ thoughts on how to better the company and the processes that effect their daily positions. What struck me about this story was that Dr. Ellison would mute herself during these conference calls, forcing herself listen to what the employees’ had to say.

Dr. Ellison’s emphasis on listening was also very evident in the way that she interacted with us. Several times throughout her talk, Dr. Ellison asked us what we thought about what she was saying. One student queried Dr. Ellison about mission statements in business. She answered the question, and then turned the question around and asked the student his opinion about the subject, listening intently to what he had to say as if she had known him for years.

After her talk, students queued up to meet Dr. Ellison personally and ask further questions. I was quick to jump in line. I found my personal interaction with her to be just as enlightening as her talk.

Later in the day I sat in the Rossi Student Center writing this article, and conversed with several fellow students who walked up. Dr. Ellison’s talk came back to my mind: how often do I listen to what people have to say and intentionally bring all ideas to the table? This is something that I will take with me after graduation, something that I want to incorporate into my professional and personal life. To learn to listen more than I speak, and to speak only from what I hear.

Excitement is building on the CIU campus with a dramatic increase in enrollment and on-campus expansion including the $20 million William H. Jones Global Business and IT Center. Information on enrollment is available here or call (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024.