2021 Best & Brightest Business Majors: Spencer Russell Call, Brigham Young University (Marriott)

Spencer Russell Call

Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Business

“I explore my surroundings—farmers’ fields, jungle mountains, tough neighborhoods, and workplaces—with one goal: DO GOOD.”

Fun fact about yourself: I learned Spanish while playing soccer on a majority-Latino team as a twelve-year-old.

Hometown: Omaha, NE

High School: Millard West High School

Major: Marketing

Minor: None

Favorite Business Course: High-Tech B2B Sales

In terms of “I can take what I’ve learned and apply it to the work I’m doing right now,” Greg Zippi’s High-Tech B2B Sales course is king of the hill. You learn how to take your company from zero to hero, fight off the big boy companies, and win (and make a lot of money in the process).

Additionally, Greg taught me life lessons that have helped me become a better leader, son, husband, and father. See the ‘favorite professor’ section for those lessons.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (San Pedro Sula, Honduras)

Following my first semester at BYU, I put my studies on pause for two years and dedicated my life to the people of northwestern Honduras. I lived in poor villages in Honduras’s central plains, jungle mountains of Copán, and the ghetto slums of San Pedro Sula. Every week, without vacations or visits home, I worked 90+ hour weeks in the suffocating heat teaching individuals and families principles of social and spiritual wellness. My companions and I built houses, harvested fruit, and cut grass alongside the Honduran people we served. I loved the people, and I was lucky to be welcomed to share life with them.

After leading teams made up of young women and men from all over Central and South America, I was selected from among my peers to serve in the top leadership position for the final 8 months of my volunteer service. These two years were some of the most stretching and rewarding times of my life.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (south Omaha, Nebraska)

After two years of volunteer service in northwestern Honduras, I brought the lessons I learned home to Omaha, NE. Just as was true in San Pedro Sula, I found a passion for helping Latino families overcome a variety of challenges (education, financial literacy, and social and spiritual wellness). To this day, I stay in touch with my “tíos y primos” from south Omaha.


BYU Dance

Through BYU’s dance programs, I learned how to dance the Foxtrot, East Coast Swing, Waltz, Cha-Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, and Salsa. At the conclusion of the three courses I took, I became certified at the Bronze American (2015), Bronze Latin (2018), and Silver Latin (2019) levels. I also competed three times and finished as a semifinalist in the BYU Dancesport competition.

Most importantly, I met my wife, Mary, through BYU Dance. She is by far my best and favorite partner.

BYU Men’s Chorus

Under the direction of the now-retired Dr. Rosalind Hall, I had the pleasure of singing in the BYU Men’s Chorus. Singing as a Tenor 1, I performed in 15 concerts with the 180 men of the choir. I lead the choir’s marketing team from 2018-2020, coordinating and leading our various social media channels (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Spotify, and Apple Music). My favorite project was our 2019 music video, How Great Thou Art. You can catch me at 0:16!

BYU Marketing Association

The BYU Marketing Association (MA) helps students land their dream internships and jobs. After enrolling at BYU, I quickly realized that marketing was for me as the MA welcomed me into their family. I started as a volunteer, coordinating and executing the MA’s career fairs and closing socials. My junior year, I served as Director of Dojos, helping plan, stage, and execute 24 company visits on BYU campus.

As president, I led an amazing team of student leaders as we transitioned the MA from a ‘brick and mortar’ club of 350+ students into a digitally native brand that engages with thousands of BYU’s students.

Historically, our events have hosted thousands of students, and despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, this year looks to be even better! Our events have included resume review nights, mock interviews, Masterclasses (skill-focused training with companies), career fairs, trips (albethey virtual this year), case competitions, socials, and the BYU Marketing Advisory Board meetings. I’m grateful for each member of my leadership team who has made these miraculous events successful!

My favorite part of leading the MA is the chance it gives me to be an evangelist for marketing and the good it can do.

Where have you interned during your college career?

  1. McAllister Orthodontics – Omaha, NE
  2. Savage Services – Midvale, UT
  3. Pando Software – Orem, UT

See my LinkedIn for the individual stories attached to each internship.

Where will you be working after graduation? The Home Depot – Merchandise Planner Analyst

What company do you admire most? Cotopaxi

In September 2020, the BYU MA hosted a case competition sponsored by Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi founder and CEO, Davis Smith, was the key judge and he spoke to us about his experiences from childhood to the present that led him to create Cotopaxi. In our brief discussion with Davis, I was inspired by his commitment to do the right thing, even if it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Cotopaxi is a brand that connects people with products that they love AND with a purpose that resonates with them—DO GOOD.

Every part of Cotopaxi’s business revolves around that core principle—DO GOOD. Their website explains how, but in short, Cotopaxi does good through its:

  • Design: Cotopaxi’s products not only are durable and look cool, but the design team works with locals from the source products’ countries to design products as they think would be best.
  • Supply Chain: Cotopaxi uses the leftover materials from other outdoor and apparel brands to build their products. Additionally, Cotopaxi’s entire supply chain is held to a rigorous set of high standards for ethics and human rights.
  • Deeds (CSR): In addition to donating 1% of all revenues to poverty alleviation, Cotopaxi provides grants to nonprofits that operate around the world.
  • Stoke: Have you ever done a Questival? They are SO FUN.

I hope to build a business like Cotopaxi that does good in all aspects of its business and interactions with the people—employees, customers, suppliers, etc—which make it great.

Who is your favorite professor? I am lucky to have been taught and mentored by BYU Marriott’s world-class faculty. I thank each one of them, particularly Mike Neuffer, Matt Madden, Jeff Larson, Mike Bond, Darron Billeter, Ryan Elder, and Lee Daniels, for their individual care and concern for me and my family.

Greg Zippi, however, not only opened my eyes to an intriguing career path (B2B sales in high tech) and deepened my love for entrepreneurship and startups, but he also taught me every day how to be a better person.

I will forever remember the lessons he has taught me that apply not only to sales but also to life:

*  Give all people their deserved human dignity

*  Figure out “the lead” and then deliver to each person’s need

*  Cut through the hedges! When faced with a challenge, figure out how to cut through them!

* How to listen: Be hyperaware of people’s words, tone, nonverbal cues, and expressions,

* Be a “connect the dots” er for others

* Curiosity manifests itself as you dig deep for details

* Work hard – but really, work hard!

* Don’t break glass! Be a good teammate.

* Take extreme ownership for every part of your life! When something you want goes wrong or awry, fall on your sword and make it better.

* Communicate so clearly that you cannot be misunderstood

* Be proud of the work you do

* Enjoy the work you do

The list goes on.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? One of my favorite movies is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In this old western film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid try to “go straight” and apply for jobs as guards at a mine. As a test, their potential employer asks the Sundance Kid if he can shoot a target. After shooting while standing still and missing, the Kid asks, “Can I move?” When given a nod of approval, he whips his pistol out of his holster and, in a single movement, blows the target to smithereens. “I’m better when I move,” he tells his new boss. You can watch the clip here.

Accordingly, to the student looking to major in a business-related field, I say, “You’re better when you’re on the move.” Inertia is powerful—it’s hard to get unstuck, but once you’re moving, you can make a difference in the world.

If you’re stuck because you’re not sure if you want to do business, just go for it! You learn what you like by doing, so you will find out pretty quickly if business is for you or not.

If you’re stuck because of poor performance, get moving! Put in the work to learn and perform well.

If you’re stuck because of fear of failure, you can’t fail if you don’t try. Try and succeed! And if you fail, then you know you can try a different path to succeed.

But I promise—you’re better when you move.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I’m worried that popular culture and the general mindset of my generation is turning against capitalism. What has surprised me most while majoring in business is that many people, including my classmates, buy into that narrative without fully considering the blessings of the country we live in.

We are not perfect—most definitely not. We have room to improve. But, in the words of Home Depot founder Arthur Blank in his book Good Company, “Good companies—values-drive companies—continue to make the pie bigger” for everyone (Blank 227). I hope to use my talents, gifts, and influence to lead a company that can set an example of the good that business can do for individuals, families, communities, countries, and the planet.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would have slowed down, worried less about grades, and instead enjoyed the process of learning more. I would have, of course, still worked as hard as needed to perform well, but sometimes the joy of learning can be lost in our busy efforts to check all the boxes on our to-do lists.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am incredibly proud of my leadership team in the Marketing Association and how they have navigated the ambiguities and challenges posed by COVID-19. Each team has had a significant “victory” this year that has blessed the lives of BYU students. What is most exciting to me is that we are leaving BYU and the MA with a host of ideas, processes, plans, and people that will help the MA reach even greater heights next year.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate I most admire actually graduated last semester. Dalton Gee and I become friends before either one of us were accepted into the marketing program. Like me, Dalton grew up in a farming community and learned the value of hard work and honesty at an early age. After earning his associates at Snow College, he and his wife, Lesley, transferred to BYU. Unfortunately, most of his credits did not transfer so he had to basically start college over. Finally, nearly seven years after starting his collegiate education, he graduated from BYU and now works in the sales management leadership track at PepsiCo.

All of this he did while working two jobs, becoming a dad, and performing near the top of his classes. He was always busy, but never was “too busy” to be a good friend and an effective teammate. I will always admire his quiet humility, willingness to get into the weeds and figure tough things out, and commitment to his values and his family.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Without my parents, I could never have achieved what I have been blessed to do during my time at BYU. My mom, a schoolteacher and homemaker, taught me not only to love learning, but also taught me how to build meaningful, constructive connections with people. Isn’t that what business is all about?

My dad raised me on a healthy diet of railroading stories. More than that, he helped me develop a ‘business brain’ by leading dinner discussions about the challenges he faced at work. He taught me how to craft a winning resume, how to network, how to interview and nail my victories, and how to navigate the corporate world.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Start a business that creates jobs in Honduras. During my two years in Honduras, I worked with and alongside some of the most humble and hardworking people I have ever seen.
  2. Start a business with my children. I was lucky to be raised by parents who taught me the value of a dollar, the reward of doing the job right the first time, and the satisfaction that comes only through sweat , equity, and hard work. Now, as the proud “Daddio” of a four-month-old girl, I want to help her learn these same lessons and more through her own experiences.

What are your hobbies? I love to be outdoors! My favorite things to do outdoors include playing soccer, road cycling, hiking in Utah’s brilliant landscapes, and working in the yard or garden with my family. I’m not ashamed to admit that mowing the lawn is one of my favorite ways to de-stress.

I also grew up in a musical family. I love to play piano, sing, and carol—particularly with my parents, siblings, and wife.

Lastly, I love service. Some of my happiest memories growing up include helping families move in and out of our neighborhood, shoveling snow for our neighbors, driving other kids to school and church, and caroling friends and family at Christmas time. Seeing someone else smile because of the good you’ve done brings satisfaction to the soul.

What made Spencer such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Spencer exemplifies the servant-leader ideal. As president of the Marketing Association this past year, Spencer’s tireless work was always done with a singular focus on benefitting other Marriott School students. He exhibits a rare and admirable combination of humility, charity, and competence that steadied the Marketing Association during a turbulent year.”

Jeff Larson
Associate Professor of Marketing
BYU Marriott School of Business


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