HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – It was standing room only inside of Huntington’s historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Wednesday afternoon for the inaugural CEO Panel.

The event was hosted by Marshall University’s Lewis College of Business, which includes the Brad D. Smith Schools of Business, named for Marshall Alum and West Virginia native, Brad Smith.

Smith is the current executive chairman of Intuit. Smith, a huge supporter of Marshall and his home state, moderated the inaugural event. He was joined on the panel by chairman, president and CEO of Adobe, Shantanu Narayen and president and CEO of PayPal, Daniel Schulman.

According to the University, the event is the first of many panels aimed at offering both students of the college, as well as the Marshall and Huntington communities with “insightful perspectives on effective leadership and taking advantage of opportunities.”

“Our students are hungry, they are driven and they want to make a difference,” explained Dr. Avinandan Mukherjee, the Dean of the Lewis College of Business, in an interview with 13 News Reporter Lily Bradley.

Dr. Mukherjee added, “Our students are extremely hardworking and I think that underdog mentality of being a student from West Virginia, going into the outer world and trying to make a difference is a huge mentality.”

A statement Smith agreed with. He pointed to the mountain state as an area known for it’s comebacks, highlighting many West Virginian’s “grit and perseverance” — two traits he believes translate well in the business world.

“Silicon Valley has discovered an incredibly well kept secret, it’s called West Virginia,” explained Smith.

“Everytime we take students here and take them out to the Silicon Valley and show them what they are capable of, these CEO’s want to come back and that is what today [Wednesday] was all about.”