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TCU Sales Center’s Steve and Allison Lewis Pinnacle Award Honors Top Performing Student

For the past three years, the TCU Sales Center has presented the Pinnacle Award as the center’s highest student honor. Steve and Allison Lewis created the award to acknowledge students who embody the core values and spirit of the Sales Center program and curriculum. In a look back at previous Pinnacle award winners, the students shared their experiences and the value they gained from the Sales Center, which is in of the Neeley School of Business.

April 30, 2024

By TCU Sales Center

The Steve and Allison Lewis Pinnacle Award is the highest honor for the TCU Sales Center and focuses on attributes of performance, authenticity, integrity, humility and ambition. This award honors students who demonstrate leadership - inside and outside the classroom - on a consistent basis. Award winners are announced each semester during the awards ceremony.

The creation of the Pinnacle Award by Steve and Allison Lewis highlights their commitment to acknowledging students who embody the core values and spirit of the TCU Sales Center's program and curriculum. To share the background of this award, Steve Lewis responded to a few questions about the Pinnacle Award and his family’s decision to establish it; and is followed by a Q&A from the previous Pinnacle Award winning students.

Why were you so passionate about creating the Pinnacle Award?

The Pinnacle Award represents an evolutionary journey that began with the creation of the Wisdom Award at TCU. Initially designed to recognize excellence in Public Speaking and Journalism, the Wisdom Award emerged from our backgrounds: my wife Allison's career in journalism, culminating as an anchor at KHOU CBS in Houston, and my diverse experiences in the transportation, entertainment, and financial industries, always in roles where public speaking was paramount.

The Wisdom Award was an incredible opportunity to witness the outstanding caliber of students at TCU and acknowledge their unique skills from an early age. Interestingly, as we followed these students into their professional lives, we discovered that the majority of them were venturing into careers that demanded sales expertise. This realization prompted a crucial question: "Why are nearly 25% of college graduates entering sales careers without adequate training in their field?"

This question fueled our dedication to redirect our investment from the Wisdom Award to the Pinnacle Award, aligning with the inception of the TCU Sales Center. The Pinnacle Award aims to recognize the top-performing student in the Sales Center, considering overall excellence rather than focusing solely on individual rankings. It's akin to the MVP in baseball – a person we believe can represent the program on a global scale.

Steve and Allison Lewis with their two daughters and son

Now in year three, you have honored six students. What has the experience been like so far?

We take immense pride in the remarkable list of Pinnacle Award winners, from our inaugural winner, Matej, to our most recent, Monroe. A consistent theme we have seen is that these individuals are not only leaders but also future influencers who will shape the business landscape in the years to come.

What is it like being a part of the TCU Sales Center?

Being part of one of the nation's premier sales programs is an honor, and we feel blessed to contribute by presenting the Pinnacle Award to an exceptional student each semester. We also are proud of our oldest daughter Grace who was not only a finalist for the Pinnacle Award but serves as a coach within the center. Recently, I overheard a student on campus expressing their goal of winning the Pinnacle Award. This shared aspiration strengthens our commitment to fostering excellence within the TCU Sales Center and highlights the impactful journey we continue to embark upon together.

Inaugural Winner in Fall 2021 - Matej Kunak, Technology Analyst at PIMCO

What did it mean to you to win this award?

Matej, his wife Nika and their dog MapleReceiving the Steve and Allison Lewis Pinnacle Award was a humbling experience. It helped me understand that even when I sometimes feel I have little to offer and lack self-belief, remaining true to oneself and embodying that authenticity in daily interactions with others can lead to significant progress. It demonstrated that being genuine and presenting one's true self is valued by those around us, whether in personal or professional environments.

Provide us an update on your life and what you are proud of?

Recently, it's been getting a job in the United States as an international student, getting married to the love of my life, Nika, and getting a dog, Maple.

Spring 2022 Winner - Michael Phillips, Customer Growth Associate at Google

What impact did the Sales Program have on you?

If I didn’t join the Sales Program, I would have felt like I largely wasted my time at TCU. Although I had fantastic professors, most college classes don’t prepare you for the real world. That’s where the Sales Program shines. It ensures every student has a path forward, even if it’s outside of sales. Additionally, my best friends came from being in the Sales Program. It helped me connect with others and develop my leadership skills. Most of my fondest memories at TCU involve the Sales Program.

Michael Phillips on top of a ridge looking down on a lake

What are some of your recent professional / personal achievements?

I’m currently progressing through my first quarter without prorated targets. However, I’m pacing far above every other person on my team. Most of my teammates have been in the role for 1.5 years. Given my early success, my manager asked me to give a presentation about the things driving my numbers. Most of the insights I shared came from the lessons I learned in the program.

Fall 2022 Winner - Lily Tierney, Associate District Manager at ADP

What did it mean to you to win this award?

Winning this award is the biggest accomplishment I achieved while at TCU. All of my hard work paid off, and it meant the world that the leaders of the sales center/coaches wanted to recognize me. I had no idea I was going to receive it, and it was one of the best moments I've ever had.

Matej, Michael, Steve and Lilly pose with awards

What are some of your recent professional / personal achievements?

I'm six months in, and I've exceeded quota every month. Currently, I am at 450% of my quota YTD, and I maxed out my ADM bonus a month early by selling $75k and 22 units. I am very close to getting my promotion.

What do you love about your current job?

I love getting to do the full sales cycle. I can prospect, cold call, set meetings, run the meetings, and close. The relationships I've built with prospects, clients, CPAs, and bankers is something I will have forever. The activity you put in is what you get out.

Spring 2023 Winner - Emma Bonke, TCU Sales Center Coach, May 2024 Grad

What did it mean to you to win this award?

Emma Bonke with Raelynn MearsWinning this award was incredibly meaningful. I was so proud to embody the TCU Sales Center's values of humility, authenticity, integrity, and ambition. Being recognized as a well-rounded salesperson, excelling in values, role play, and as a top producer, was an incredible honor. This award not only marked my personal growth in sales but also served as a motivation to continue striving for excellence and stay true to my values in my future career. It was a reminder that dedication and commitment to core values lead to remarkable achievements.

What are some of your recent professional / personal achievements?

Last semester, as a TCU Sales Center Coach for the Consultative Selling Course, I had the opportunity to coach a team of six students with limited sales experience through this rigorous course of live selling and role playing. Their collective effort resulted in $17,500 in revenue through selling based on value, and their exceptional performance was highlighted at the Awards Night. They were finalists for eight awards, winning three – a reflection of their grit, persistence, and adherence to key values such as humility, authenticity, and integrity. I am filled with immense pride for my team's achievements and proud of how effectively I was able to coach them to this level of success.

What impact did the Sales Program have on you?

The Sales Program at the TCU Sales Center significantly influenced my career and personal growth, initially by helping me discover my passion for sales and providing opportunities to work with prestigious companies. This experience fostered a strong sense of community and camaraderie, allowing me to build lasting relationships with other TCU Sales Center students and a valuable professional network. It also boosted my confidence and offered unique chances to network with industry professionals, alongside receiving insightful mentorship from TCU SC alumni and faculty. Beyond professional development, the program played a crucial role in my personal growth, contributing to my overall betterment as an individual. Moreover, it gave me the fulfilling opportunity to mentor and coach new sales students as a TCU Sales Coach, guiding them to realize and achieve their potential. This journey through the Sales Program has not only shaped my career path but also enriched my life.

Fall 2023 Winner - Monroe Urie, TCU Sales Center Coach, May 2024 Grad

What did it mean to you to win this award?

Winning this award meant more to me than words can convey. It provided an incredible source of encouragement, leaving me genuinely speechless. Initially, when some hinted at the possibility of receiving it, I found it hard to believe, given the many deserving peers surrounding me. However, after a semester of dedicated work in the Sales Center, this award felt like a blessing from above. It affirmed that my relentless efforts had been recognized and that my passion for sales was validated. Knowing that I earned such a prestigious accolade, especially one for which faculty and coaches also voted, instills a sense of assurance within me. It made me feel truly seen and honored, fostering the belief that I can become the person I aspire to be.

Monroe Urie with the Sales Center faculty and the students in the seats of Shaddock Auditorium

What do you love about your current job?

As a coach, I love witnessing others thrive due to the supportive environment fostered by the TCU Sales Center, a place where students are constantly sharpening one another without even knowing it.

What impact did the Sales Program have on you?

The TCU Sales Center has been instrumental in shaping my career path. Without it, I might have been at a loss regarding my professional goals and could have potentially entered the wrong industry. The center played a pivotal role in unlocking my full potential. I wouldn't have secured the offers I did or gained the valuable experiences that have shaped my journey.

Through this program, I discovered a genuine passion for guiding and coaching others toward success. It clarified my desire to work in an environment that provides deeper value to customers. The Sales Center has significantly contributed to my confidence in my abilities. The success I've achieved so far is a testament to the program's teachings, which I didn't fully grasp until I experienced them firsthand.

I now understand the importance of empathizing with others and asking the right questions. Without these skills, I believe I would be a different person today. The TCU Sales Center has not only brought me success but will continue to do so, thanks to the invaluable lessons it has imparted.