Bill Kroll is enjoying a professional reboot. A former sales manager at Colgate-Palmolive, he is currently furthering his education while sharing the experiences of his 26-year career with the next generation of business leaders, as an adjunct professor at Rollins College.
Born in Upstate New York, Kroll moved to Central Florida with his family at the age of five. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business with a focus in marketing from the University of Central Florida in 1992. In 2002, while working full time at Colgate-Palmolive, he earned a master’s degree in corporate communication and technology from the Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College. He is currently working toward an executive doctorate in business administration and management at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College.
Kroll lives in Winter Park with his wife, Dr. Amy Smith, who is the chief of pediatric hematology-oncology and bone marrow transplantation at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and his stepson, Lucas, who is a student at Edgewater High School and a member of the wrestling team.
Here, he discusses his former career, new direction, and next steps:
When did you start working for your former company and what led you there? I began in the Colgate-Palmolive Professional Dental Division in 1993 and was in sales and sales management throughout my career. Interestingly, what led me there is a large part of what kept me there: caring for people is the focus of the company’s business. These values and the people, from all over the world, with whom I had the privilege of working, are the main reasons I stayed for all those years.
What inspired you to teach? First and foremost, it was my desire to give back and make a difference. I remember being a college student and not knowing what the real world would be like when I finally graduated. I wanted to help college students find a rewarding career and help them learn more about how to navigate a career in business. I taught some classes to other Colgate managers in various locations around the country, and that got me hooked on leading a learning experience.
Who was your biggest inspiration when you were growing up, and who inspires you as you embark on this new chapter? Many of the teachers I had in school made a positive impact on my life. I was fortunate to attend some excellent public schools in Seminole County. I have several sources of inspiration today: Dr. Rick Bommelje, a long-time professor at Rollins, who I had the privilege of learning from during my graduate program; John Booher, my former manager at Colgate, who went on to pursue a career in academia after his retirement; and Dr. Melvin Holder, a friend who also worked in corporate America and then took to a career in higher education. All three of them embody the values I hope to emulate: care for others, a passion for learning, and service to the community.
What is the greatest challenge you are facing in changing careers? The biggest challenge by far is the feeling of starting over. I had built a reputation within the dental profession and around the world with my colleagues. I must make new connections, build new relationships and skills, learn a new way of doing things, and all the while, keep pursuing excellence. While these are all challenges, I see them as goals worth pursuing for my benefit and the benefit of others. I’ve told my students that I’m not unlike them, I’m starting a new career just like they soon will.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your pursuit of a new career? This is two-fold: First, it’s seeing the light bulb come on as students make connections, and seeing how selling connects to so many facets of business. If I’m doing my job well, some of them might just consider a career in sales. Second, it’s the satisfaction of my own learning process. I’ve noticed this in my role as a teacher and in my role as a doctoral student.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I love to work out. I weightlift with my friend and trainer Jason Kasheta of Kasheta BodyFit and attend regular yoga classes at Full Circle Yoga in Winter Park. I’m also a car guy who enjoys any kind of fast and fun automobile. I’m a big time English football fan and a rabid supporter of Club London West Ham United. I’m also a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan, through all the ups and downs. I also like to hang out with my two couch-potato, long-haired miniature dachshunds, who make life so much fun.
Where do you see yourself, professionally, in five years? I’m planning to finish my EDBA in the next few years. I plan to continue to teach and to grow in my new career. I then hope to obtain a full-time role as a professor, where I can continue teaching and mentoring college students. I’m also planning to do some consulting and coaching as the opportunities present.
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