An historical financial gift and recognition to a FAMU Icon were the order of business during a recent visit to the School of Business in Industry (SBI) by Hershey Company Chairman Jim Nevels.
During a visit to Tallahassee on May 26, Nevels reserved some time to meet with the faculty, staff and students of SBI. While speaking, Nevels passionately shared his thoughts on Hershey’s $1 million contribution to SBI and on his admiration for Founding Dean Sybil Mobley. Funds obtained through the gift will be used to establish the Mobley Hershey Endowed Chair. Mobley spearheaded the efforts to make the investment and corporate matching program possible during her tenure as dean.
In the midst of his initial presentation to the students, Nevels looked over his shoulder at a portrait of Mobley, whom he regrets not having an opportunity to meet in person.
“Let me tell you about what that picture on the wall means. I didn’t know her but I knew of her greatness. It also means the reality of standing on her shoulders. She was on corporate boards when it wasn’t cool for me to be on corporate boards. I wouldn’t have gotten there if she hadn’t, and for that I am very well indebted, and very indebted to have this time with you today,” Nevels said.
In addition to serving as Chairman of the Hershey Company Board, Nevels serves on the boards of the Hershey Trust Company, the Milton Hershey School and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nevels is also the founder and chairman of the Swarthmore Group, an investment advisory firm that he created in 1991.
The importance of maintaining a strong brand was a sticking point in the message Nevels delivered to the students during a personable and lively interactive discussion.
“A brand is a reputation, it is a belief, it is something that we subscribe to, Nevels said. “A brand is who you are,” he added.
Nevels shared that his desire to further enhance the current relationship between the Hershey Company and SBI with creative initiatives such as internships will help build upon the foundation that has already been established over the years.
“The relationship is already institutionalized between the Hershey Company and this great institution. “An internship program is so fundamental because it gets you there. You sort of see it and you understand and get a sense for what is expected,” he added.
While reflecting on his admiration for Mobley, Nevels praised her ability to bring the relevance of diversity to the forefront of leading organizations in Corporate America, including the Hershey Company.
“She helped make this possible, and the Hershey Company is becoming much better at diversity. Always remain committed to true diversity, because it will elevate you as a leader,” Nevels said.
Prior to his departure SBI Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud, thanked Nevels and the Hershey Company for their dedication and commitment to the growth and development of FAMU and her students.
“We here at FAMU and SBI want to thank you for what you’ve done, the trails you’ve blazed and the shoulders that you give us to stand on,” she said.