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By Liz Warren-Pederson

Eller alum Robert Sarver (Eller Accounting ’82) – majority owner of the Phoenix Suns – was on campus in November as the Distinguished Executive in Residence. Over his two-day visit to McClelland Hall, Sarver met with Eller faculty, attended a UA Men’s Basketball practice session, presented to accounting classes, and participated in roundtable conversations with students in entrepreneurship, sports management, marketing, and sales.

“We were able to ask Mr. Sarver about a wide variety of topics, however a majority of the questions were about the Phoenix Suns or his opinion on current business topics,” said Ben Malisewski (Eller MIS, Finance, and Sports Management ’15). ”My impression of Mr. Sarver was that he is one of the brightest people I have ever met. The way he analyzed situations and his responses to our questions left nobody surprised by his success.”

Sarver was candid with the students, offering insight into the philosophy that underpins his work, including the five P’s that drive the Suns approach: pride, preparation, perseverance, poise, and performance. “I believe in bringing teams together, even if at first you don’t think a person’s role and responsibilities exactly fit the meeting topic,” he told the students. “Great ideas and input come from all directions.”

“The session really enforced the fact that as students, we should trust Eller and the education we are receiving,” Malisewski said. “While yes, Mr. Sarver went through this school a while back, Eller has been producing outstanding graduates with the tools and knowledge to succeed for quite some time and he is just another example.”

For his part, Sarver said he was impressed with the students he encountered. “The business education that they are receiving goes far beyond the classroom,” he said. “Eller is teaching this next generation to think critically and solve real business problems in real-world environments.”

Top image of Robert Sarver with Eller dean Len Jessup by Samantha Sowerby.