Mark Benninghoff ’82 helped Professor David Miller ’61, H’20 experience another first in his 56-year teaching history at Thiel College. The March 18 edition of the Ruth A. Miller Senior Seminar was an online gathering. The students showed remarkable resilience—some dining on crackers and cheese for what was supposed to be a fine-dining etiquette dinner—and still gleaned valuable lessons from the session.
“Tonight, we had a virtual seminar, so there was no formal dinner. However, that did not stop my mom and brother from listening in to tonight’s speaker eagerly over a delicious meal of tacos.” —Nick Mott ’20
“Among his many key points, Mr. Benninghoff emphasized the importance of having a Business Contingency Plan. This is essential for businesses to prepare for pandemics like the one we are facing today. Contingency planning reduces the risk of uncertainty, improves the continuity of work, increases credit availability, and prevents panic. Spending many years in the healthcare business at UPMC, Mr. Benninghoff has much experience in this arena and it was interesting to hear his thoughts on the matter. While we are all worried this pandemic could turn into the next Great Depression, Mr. Benninghoff gave inspirational words for the future. He explained that we will become better from COVID-19 and it will turn us into better business leaders in the future.” —Robert Micsky ’20
“One thing I found very interesting was the time he spent in Ireland helping with a hospital there. He said that good leadership comes from hiring people smarter than you, doing great work always, adopting best practices, and making sure your team is diverse.” —Brenna Parsley ’20
“Mark then told us the statistics of people in the United States who live paycheck to paycheck. Mark stated that this was 80 percent of United States citizens. This was completely shocking to me. Overall, this time in our country is devastating and it is hard to fathom. I knew that all of this would cause trying times for people but until Mark gave that statistic, I didn’t realize how much. We all need to be praying for our nation and doing our best to give back in any way we can. Mark quoted different individuals that gave him advice to a great life and career, one of those quotes was “do good, and give back!” The only way we will be able to overcome this is if we all try and lift each other up and comfort those who are in need. If we all do that, this nation will get back to where it was in no time.” —Annmarie Moore ’20
“Mr. Benninghoff is a very experienced leader and he provided us with several insights on how the best leaders assemble and manage their teams. He suggested four key principles for this purpose. First, you should build strong working relationships and always hire people who are smarter than you. You want experts on your team. Secondly, do great work always. You should always strive to accomplish all your professional goals and expectations. Thirdly, you should implement best practices. Why would you reinvent the wheel? Use what has been proven to work and adapt and improve upon it where possible. Finally, diversify your team in every way. A diverse team brings together people with a wide variety of expertise and broad perspectives. These four practices are the hallmarks of a successful leader. Mr. Benninghoff successfully utilized them during his career as CFO of the UPMC physician groups and it has taken him far since. He is definitely a Thiel success story, and we should all work towards a strong career path like his.”—Mariel Hanely ’20
“Today for Millers’ dinner, I decided to cook my own meal. For an appetizer, I had Ritz grilled cheese crackers. The entrée was cinnamon raisin bread which was lightly toasted. There was no dessert served.” —Matthew O’Connor ’20
“Mark talked to us about how Thiel’s Lutheran tradition was a large influence in his education. He could summarize some of the ideals taught to him such as; to think globally and act locally, to be prepared to live a life of worth and service, and to be educated about faith in a thoughtful and challenging way. While at Thiel, Mark had a number of other influences including his business and accounting professors, his fraternity brothers, and his professor and director of theatre productions, Bill Robinson.” —Charlie Lichtenwalter ’21