Three Alums on 40 Under 40 List

by Richard Paige

February 24, 2014

A 40 Under 40 Q&A

The simplest explanation would be to look at Wabash as an incubator of success.

The Indianapolis Business Journal might agree, as three Wabash men were included in the publication’s annual 40 Under 40 list for 2014, which recognizes young professionals in central Indiana who are leaders in their respective fields.

Aman Brar ’99, president of Apparatus; Bob Shaver ’04, a food industry social entrepreneur; and Wes Zirkle ’98, executive vice president of Just Marketing, Inc., were among a group honored for making a difference.

While information technology, the conscience behind food, and motorsports marketing may seem like strange bedfellows, it all makes sense under Wabash’s seek-your-calling umbrella.

“One of the most important things I learned at Wabash was to be comfortable doing unordinary things,” said Zirkle.

Shaver describes a roundabout way to the path of success, experiences that serve him well today. “If Wabash hadn't supported me to switch majors, pledge a fraternity, host a radio show, and live in South America, I am sure it would have taken me much longer to find my way,” he said.

After graduating with a degree in religion and earning a master’s at the Yale Divinity School, Shaver found his niche in the social sector, serving in roles as varied as consulting, strategic planning, systems analysis, and non-profit leadership.

“Every step since then has taken me further away from my training, but closer to my calling,” Shaver said. “What the world needs is people who care and can solve problems.”

Zirkle, too, earned his B.A. in religion before heading to law school. One of his side jobs – managing a friend’s band, Baja Planet – opened the doors to the world of intellectual property within the entertainment business.

After spending five years at CMG Worldwide, the industry leader in intellectual property management, Zirkle left to start the legal department at Just Marketing, where signage and naming rights turn the wheels of the motorsports industry.

Zirkle found success rather quickly because, as he puts is, he didn’t have visions of what success should be and he worked hard enough to make his own luck.

“Not having a preconception of ‘what I wanted to be when I grow up’ helped me to keep an open mind,” Zirkle said. “When I was younger I would tell law students that I got lucky.  I now know that I wasn’t lucky.  I followed what truly interested me and put myself in a position to be lucky.”Wes Zirkle '98 (Indianapolis Business Journal image).

Brar moved to Silicon Valley following graduation, quickly feeling that “ah-ha” moment that his career choice was a good one. He returned to Indiana for graduate school and has been influencing IT advancement in the state ever since.

“Experiencing Silicon Valley soon after Wabash was immediate reinforcement of my desire to pursue a career in technology,” said Brar.

Certainly, there is validation in being recognized with honors like 40 Under 40. But it also serves as motivation for future efforts.

“A real value in being named to a list like this is in motivating me to prove that they made a good choice, by continuing to make a positive impact,” said Shaver.

And a realization that there are plenty of lessons still to learn. “The list is a reminder of 39 individuals from whom I have a lot to learn,” Brar said.

Zirkle, Shaver and Brar feel that the lasting benefit of a Wabash education is the simplicity in discovering what you love and pursuing that passion.

The decision becomes simple and the impact great.

“Whatever you do, do it because that’s what you want to do,” Zirkle said. “Don’t go to law school because you are a third-generation lawyer. Go because you want to.  And damn it, do it with a smile on your face. If you are true to yourself and you can’t wait to wake up every morning and live life, then you’ll find that you are living with a happy heart.  There’s nothing better.”


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