This year, six new faces have joined the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering’s (ISyE) Advisory Board for the 2013–2017 term. Don Greene, IE 1980, Joaquín González Varela, Neca Holley, IE 1986, Andrew Ibbotson, IE 1998, Charlie Murrah, IE 1984, and Jocelyn Stargel, IE 1982, MS 1986, were inducted during the annual spring meeting held in May. Existing board member, Lou Fouts, IE 1990, will now serve as the board’s chair.
“ISyE’s advisory board is an important piece of the ISyE puzzle,” said ISyE School Chair Jane Ammons. “The board is made up of distinguished professionals and community leaders, with each member bringing extensive industry knowledge and unique expertise to the board. We are delighted to welcome our newest members.”
This summer, we asked them to share some memories of Georgia Tech and ISyE.
What is your fondest memory at Georgia Tech?
Stargel: I have so many fond memories at Georgia Tech that it is hard to pick one. At the core of all of my fond memories are the bonds and friendships formed as we all worked hard to earn that engineering degree. Many of my lifelong friends are fellow Tech graduates. Including my husband!
Murrah: I would say my fondest Georgia Tech memory is taking a winter weeknight study break to watch Bobby Cremins and the Yellow Jackets create the “Thriller Dome.”
Ibbotson: One of my fondest memories from my time at Tech was doing “triple play” one hot summer night, which involved climbing Tech Tower, the stadium lights and the coliseum, followed by a quick dip in the president’s swimming pool to cool off after all that physical exertion. I hear that would probably get you kicked out these days!
Fouts: There are too many to count. One of the most memorable would have to be the thrilling 41-38 Georgia Tech victory over Virginia at Virginia when they were ranked No. 1. My brother, Nick Fouts, CE 1992, and I drove all night to Charlottesville to watch the game.
Holley: My fondest memory of Georgia Tech would be all the friendships I
made while there. And Saturday morning football games.
Greene: Although our teams weren’t great during my years on campus, there’s just nothing that would beat a fall afternoon at Grant Field. And the time
spent before and after the games with friends at MJ Pippin and Spiro’s made
Saturdays in the fall perfect days on campus.
What is your fondest memory of ISyE?
Ibbotson: The most fun I had as an ISyE student was senior design. My team worked with the Atlanta Track Club to redesign the finish of the Peachtree Road Race. We built a model to simulate 55,000 runners crossing the finish line and overlaid our simulation on a map of Piedmont Park to demonstrate various scenarios and sell the Track Club on what we felt was the optimal layout for the new finish area in front of Park Tavern. Getting to put some of what we had learned into practice, and then getting to run the Peachtree and experience the result firsthand was very rewarding.
Greene: In a wage and salary administration course, we were assigned to design a wage and salary system for a real company. My group gained permission
from The Varsity. So, we went behind the scenes and rated various job factors for cooks, onion peelers, counter workers, and everybody else who worked there. Talk about an interesting assignment! There’s a skill to shouting “What’ll you have!” Plus, we ate a lot of free chili dogs.
Murrah: My fondest ISyE memory is Nelson Rogers dispensing classroom advice in the old French building. Another good memory is a Quality Control and Statistics class I had under Dr. Jane Ammons. I think this was probably one of the first classes she taught!
Fouts: My fondest memory of ISyE would be my senior design team and how much fun we all had working together.
Stargel: My fondest memory of ISyE is of a business case oriented class that I took as a senior. I cannot recall the formal course name but it was taught by Professor Callahan in the old ISyE building. I took the class at the end of my senior year and enjoyed it because it reinforced many of the concepts I had learned in the ISyE program.
I remember that we were required to get a subscription to the Wall Street Journal in that class and encouraged to keep up with business related news and developments.
I received a different view of how my skills fit into the workplace in that class and still subscribe to The Wall Street Journal today.
Holley: I loved Ergonomics class.
What motivated you to serve on the ISyE Advisory Board?
Greene: As CEO for the Institute of Industrial Engineers, I see the differences industrial engineers are making. I am passionate about our profession. I am proud of my alma mater as the top-ranked ISyE department, and appreciate that my degree has enabled me to make a living doing something that I love. If I can help the department in any way, thereby enabling them to provide similar opportunities to today’s students, I am honored to have that chance.
Varela: The ISyE program at Georgia Tech has a recognized leadership position in its field, but the bar continues to be raised every year. I’m hopeful that my professional experience both here in the United States and in Latin America will help ISyE remain in the top ranks of educational institutions worldwide. And I’m also hopeful that my day-to-day work in the retail environment will allow me to share insights into new dynamics that will keep ISyE graduates among the most qualified and employable as they enter the workplace.
Ibbotson: Surrounding yourself with a team of highly motivated and capable people is critically important when starting a new business. Georgia Tech and ISyE have played a key role in the success of my last two technology companies by providing easy access to a never-ending pool of exceptional talent. I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working with dozens of Tech ISyEs over the past decade – from co-ops and interns to members of my senior executive team. One of the lead investors in my last two companies is also a GT ISyE. So when I was asked to serve on the ISyE advisory board, I jumped at the opportunity to give back to the school in a small way. So far, it’s been a great opportunity to reconnect with the school and get to know more really impressive students and alumni.
Holley: Giving back to Georgia Tech is important since being a graduate has provided me with so many
Murrah: I am interested in sitting on the ISyE Advisory Board because it gives me the opportunity to stay plugged in and give back to the school I love so much.
Fouts: I enjoy serving on the ISyE Advisory Board because it allows me to stay connected to the School and to participate in some small way to the continuing development of the next generation of student engineers and leaders.
Stargel: I am incredibly proud of my ISyE degrees from Georgia Tech. Serving on the ISyE Advisory Board is an opportunity to give back to the program and school that equipped me so well and to participate in the future success of our students and faculty.
Don Greene is the CEO and executive director of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE). Prior to becoming Executive Director, Greene served as managing director of the International Gas Turbine Institute. He has also been the director of member services and operations for Polaris International. Earlier in his career, Greene worked at IIE for ten years in a variety of positions including staff industrial engineer, product development manager, and membership manager. He got additional experience from his employment at Scientific Atlanta, where he worked as an industrial engineer. Greene became a registered Professional Engineer in 1988 and is also a Certified Association Executive. He is a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, American Society of Association Executives, Georgia Society of Association Executives, and the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives.
Joaquín González Varela is executive vice president of Walmart and president of Walmart Stores, Inc.’s East Business Unit, representing nearly 1,600 stores in four divisions spanning from Maine to Puerto Rico. He is responsible for establishing the strategic direction of all growth opportunities including execution of store innovation, supply chain, real estate and people development. Before joining Walmart’s U.S. operations, González held a variety of positions with Walmart de México, in which he has worked across some of the company’s most important divisions including operations, merchandising, logistics, and finance. His efforts in Mexico led to a handful of important milestones and achievements, including the development of a new store format, Bodega Express, which today is one of the main growing vehicles for Walmart de México. He implemented a cold supply chain network for all fresh merchandise — the first of its class in Latin America — including operations standards, procedures and the grand opening of the first distribution center in Mexico.
Neca Holley is an area manager with Outside Plant Engineering and Planning Design where she manages the central and western parts of Georgia for AT&T. Her group designs and implements facilities to supply high speed data and Ethernet services, which allows AT&T to meet bandwidth needs for cellular and U verse customers. She has been with AT&T/BellSouth/Southern Bell for 27 years and started her career as an outside plant engineer designing copper cable, fiber optic, and digital systems. During her career she has served in various capacities, from managing budgets to staffing the Cooperative Education Program for the BellSouth region where she recruited students from diverse schools around the country. Holley has a Professional Engineering License, is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, and The Institute of Industrial Engineers. She attended Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s course in quality, productivity and competitive position, which was taught by Dr. Deming himself.
Andrew Ibbotson is the founder and CEO of Digital Assent, a healthcare technology company that helps physicians and brands more effectively engage patients at the point of care. Under his leadership, Digital Assent has earned significant recognition. Highlights include being selected by Forbes Magazine as a finalist for its list of “America’s Most Promising Companies” and winning the Cool Technology of the Year award presented by TechAmerica and the Technology Association of Georgia. Digital Assent’s rapidly growing PatientPad® Network now spans every major metropolitan market in the country. Andrew was named 2012 Business Person of the Year by the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Entrepreneur of the Year at TiECON Southeast, and Mobile Marketer of the Year at the 2012 Tech Marketing Awards. He was also recognized as one of Atlanta’s “40 Under 40″ business leaders by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Ibbotson is an active member of the Atlanta technology community. He sits on the Board of Directors for Venture Atlanta, serves as a mentor to first-time entrepreneurs, and regularly speaks at events throughout the country to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.
Charlie Murrah is executive vice president and president of Southwire’s Energy Division, which serves customers in the electrical utility industry primarily in the United States. Murrah began his career with Southwire in 1984 as an industrial engineer in the Carrollton Utility Products Plant. He subsequently held numerous engineering and management positions in Southwire’s energy cable and copper operations, serving most recently as the company’s vice president of supply chain. Murrah is a Georgia registered Professional Engineer and a certified production and inventory manager. In 1996, he was inducted into the Council of Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni of Georgia Tech.
Jocelyn Stargel is the manager of business assurance at Southern Company Services. With 4.4 million customers and nearly 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern
Company is the premier energy company serving the Southeast through its subsidiaries — Georgia Power, Alabama Power, Mississippi Power, Gulf Power, Southern Power, Southern Nuclear, Southern Telecom and SouthernLINC Wireless. In her role, Stargel oversees the Southern Company program focused on minimizing or eliminating the impact of events that have the potential to disrupt critical business operations, functions, or services. Stargel currently serves on the board of the Georgia Tech Women’s Alumni Network, and the Finance Committee of CHRIS Kids, Inc. She has also served on the Board of Directors of CHRIS Kids, Inc, the marketing committee of Heating Energy Assistance Team, and on the Board of Directors for the Spruill Center for the Arts.
Lou Fouts is a partner at Water Street Capital, a large Jacksonville-based hedge fund, that manages money for leading endowments, institutions, and family offices. Fouts heads up Water Street’s initiatives in the commodity, energy, transportation, and automotive industries. Water Street is known for taking large stakes in under-appreciated growth opportunities such as Apple Computer in 2003 and commodities (fertilizer, crude oil, coking coal) from 2004-2008. Upon graduation from Georgia Tech, Fouts went to work for SysteCon, a logistics and distribution consultancy founded by Georgia Tech’s Dean of Engineering, John White, where he specialized in supply-chain restructuring. After two years at SysteCon, Fouts joined The Boston Consulting Group’s Russian office in 1993 and participated in the restructuring of the Russian agricultural logistics network. In 1998, Fouts was recruited to New York City to help develop the private equity initiatives of Caxton Corporation, one of the largest hedge funds in the world at that time. Fouts joined Water Street in 2002 and became the firm’s youngest partner in 2004.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2013 ISyE Alumni Magazine.
Industrial and Systems Engineering