Your Unique Executive Presence: Sandy Hostetter’s Message for Business Leaders on the Rise

Sandy Hostetter ’01MBA knows a thing or two about leadership. After all, she’s the Vice President of Asset Development for Lift Orlando and has held many leadership roles, including serving as the Central Florida Regional President for Truist, the largest bank in Central Florida. On February 28, she spoke to a live audience at Crummer about the topic of executive presence and discovering the art of being you. 

Sandy began her presentation by focusing on authentic leadership and how a person needs to be genuine and embrace their uniqueness. “The most powerful leaders are real first. They acknowledge their mistakes. They learn from it, and they move on. They are not defeated by it.” Leaders must balance being real and authentic with being vulnerable. Allowing others to see vulnerabilities isn’t a sign of weakness, but one of strength.  

She then discussed how the biggest challenge in life is identifying your strengths and understanding what your weaknesses can be. No two people are alike, and we must identify what we’d like our core strengths to be. “The key to being a successful leader is identifying your gifts, your passion, and becoming the best at that you can possibly be.” It is also perfectly acceptable to be an observant person, but you don’t want to copy others. You can be inspired by others instead and try to emulate their positive qualities.  

On Sandy’s fortieth birthday, she started her journey with getting her Crummer MBA. She said it was one of the best moves she’s ever made. Recognizing her own weaknesses, she had a realization: “Had I not done it, I would have lost credibility. I had to do it then because I was starting to get behind.” Sandy knew she wanted to improve her strengths and make herself the best possible version of herself she could be. She credits her Crummer education with instilling a passion for reading and making her a lifelong learner. She always wants to invest in herself, continuing to hone her skills and broaden her horizons.  

Sandy continued by stating that you need to find what you do well and perfect it…to an extent. She emphasized focusing on what you are good at and finding what you enjoy about your work. “When I first started at the bank, I realized that I could really help a business owner.” She became good with numbers and truly understood why what she learned in her Crummer classes mattered. Sandy ended up falling in love with her work. She recommends keeping faith in the beginning of a job you may not initially like. There is still something to learn in doing something you don’t enjoy. She also discussed the error of focusing wholly on perfection since it is the enemy of good. “It reminds me not to beat myself up. Most likely your worst enemy will always be yourself.” 

An inspirational leader is also not molded by public opinion. They are informed by it, and “it is one of their data sources, but not everything.” Sandy acknowledged that this is harder for younger generations due to social media. But she focuses on not rushing to an opinion. She will read from sources she respects and try to gather knowledge, talking to people who may know more about the subject than she does. Then she will make an informed opinion and share.  

Sandy next emphasized the importance of overcoming fear and standing up when something doesn’t seem right. She discussed her work with Lift Orlando and how they are engaged in uplifting, uniting, and empowering the historically African American West Lakes neighborhoods around Camping World Stadium. The organization invests in people, places, and partnerships that help the community prosper. Sandy is also passionate about affordable housing and the housing insecure population. She wants to create change in the community, so she has to overcome any fears she has and be bold. “If there is one thing I would look back at my career and change about me it’s that I would find my voice sooner.”  

The discussion then shifted to the topic of teamwork and how a person can’t accomplish much on their own. “You, the leader, need the team as much as the team needs you because a healthy team helps each other.” Sandy mentioned how it is important to surround ourselves with people who challenge and inspire us. On the flip side, we need to make sure we are challenging and inspiring those around us. Telling a person you believe in them can be the strongest words you say.  

Sandy concluded by stating that we were all put here for a reason. We just need to find it. She had the chance to lead the largest bank in Central Florida and loved it, but she eventually felt compelled to walk away. “I had already done what I came to do in the business world. It was time to make the world a better place.” That’s when she focused more on her community work. Like Sandy, we can all find our purpose, and it may change as life unfolds in different chapters, but we should never stop searching for the best version of ourselves in our leadership and what makes us uniquely us.  

If you’d like to earn your Crummer MBA like Sandy did, start off your journey by making an appointment with one of our admissions specialists.