Like father, like son: Miami alumni get down to business in conversation

It’s not uncommon to hear a Miami University student say that Miami was their first choice and the place that they knew was where they wanted to be. Connor Kadlic said he was no exception. “I went out and looked at other schools and there's certainly other things that are interesting, but I think my heart was pretty much always set on Miami,” he recalled. “And I still remember running downstairs in the kitchen and screaming, ‘I got into Miami!’”

Of course, Connor had “some” family history that pushed him toward Oxford. “Most of my aunts and uncles and both of my parents went to Miami, and growing up all I heard was, ‘Miami, Miami, Miami.”

Connor’s father, Jeffrey Kadlic, a 1993 graduate, also had a family connection that brought him here. “The strong endorsement of my older brother is what got me there,” he noted. “You don't have to spend a lot of time at Miami University for you to realize that that's the place for you.”

“Miami was that beacon that I needed to get me focused on trying to be successful and putting forth my best effort,” Jeffrey said. “It was really validation of what it meant to work hard, put your head down and set goals.”

The father and son were featured guests of the Cleveland chapter of the Miami University Alumni Association Redbrick Leadership Series earlier this month, with Connor interviewing his father about his time at Miami, the Farmer School of Business, and his career since.

Jeffrey Kadlic was a marketing-turned-finance major, but he said one of his most memorable professors was an entrepreneur. “John Altman -- I was in the first class or the second class that he taught there and he just had this aura about him and the stories that he told, you wanted to be around the guy and take as much from him from a learning experience as you possibly could,” he remarked. “John was very instrumental in encouraging me to go out and search for the opportunity that I wanted as opposed to sitting back and waiting for it to happen. And that has stuck with me throughout my entire career.”

Connor Kadlic graduated in 2020 with a political science degree, but he minored in general business and took part in business-oriented organizations. “Miami gives you all of those incredible resources and opportunities, things like working in the student credit union there in Armstrong,” he pointed out. “Being able to talk about how it’s one of three student-run credit unions in the nation, that gave me a lot to talk about in interviews.”

Jeffrey Kadlic said that after he graduated with a fresh degree in an ongoing recession, he went home. “I was in my driveway shooting baskets in September after I graduated and my dad came out and was like, ‘You know, it's kind of time.’ I decided that I was going to move to Chicago without a job. And once I got there and got settled in, I met some friends of my older brother who shared with me this whole idea about commercial lending. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I thought, ‘That's exactly where I want to do the rest of my life,’ and was able to get an interview.”

After working for a bank and a pair of capital companies, the elder Kadlic started Evolution Capital Partners in 2005. He said he’s learned that the key to finding good people to employ and work with is finding those people who are more than the sum of their abilities. “You're looking for themes … People that have overcome challenges, regardless of major, regardless of some of the particulars, is a really important theme. You want to find people that are willing to make their way or fight their way to overcome a challenge. I think that is a very important attribute because life is a series of challenges and how you overcome those challenges really makes the difference between somebody that is going to be, you know, incredibly successful and somebody that is going to just take what they have been given and accept it,” Jeffrey said. “I think the people that are willing to overcome that and thrive following a challenge are really the people that you want to back. Regardless of industry, regardless of even business or career, that's who you want to be spending time with.”

After graduation, Connor Kadlic followed his father into commercial banking, became a commercial banking associate at CIBC, where he had interned the previous summer.

Both Kadlics said some of their best college memories are centered in being on campus. “My favorite Miami memory is really just being on campus that very first month or so. The open page of going through this experience with all these people at the same time, the excitement of going to class and seeing and meeting new people early on, I won't forget it,” Jeffrey said. “It was a great, great, great experience all in all.”

“When you're standing there and you're walking past the seal and you see Armstrong, you look around and you're like, ‘THIS is a college campus,’” Connor remarked. “It's that reminder every time you go through there that I'm in the right place, this is exactly where I wanted to go, and I couldn't imagine any place better than Miami.”