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The cover of the spring/summer 2004 Issue of SFSU Magazine

 

SFSU Magazine Online, Spring/Summer  2004, Volume 4, Number 1.

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Alumni and FriendsAlumnus Eric Kelly smiles.

A Mentor to Many

Eric Kelly (MBA, '82) is an East Bay native who says he caught the business bug from his parents, both of whom worked at his father's auto center for 40 years. Kelly, who is CEO of Snap Appliance, a global leader in network storage systems based in San Jose, was recently named one of the 50 Most Important African Americans in Technology by Black Money and U.S. Black Engineer magazines. It's an honor which Kelly says gives him visibility and allows people to reach out to him as a mentor.

Kelly was on the early curve of the technology boom. As an undergraduate business major at San Jose State in the late '70s, he felt technology in the air and knew immediately that's where he wanted to go. "Being educated used to mean being able to read. Now you need to know how to use a computer. It's part of being an educated person," he says.

He remembers his education at SFSU as a great mix of the theoretical and the practical. "Most of my professors had a lot of real-world business experience," he says, adding that marketing professor Homer Dalbey, now retired, was especially inspirational.

Kelly now does a fair amount of inspiring himself. He works in a fund-raising capacity with the NAACP, and he and his two teenage daughters have been involved for many years with Jack & Jill of America, an organization offering leadership opportunities for young African Americans. But what really gets him excited is his yearly participation with the College Black Expo in Los Angeles, which reaches out to more than 30,000 inner city youths, informing them about college, careers and life in general. "It's amazing to show up at 9 o'clock and see 2,000 to 3,000 kids waiting to get in," he says. Kelly hopes to expand the conference to San Francisco next year.

When asked what single piece of advice he would give to current MBA students, he doesn't miss a beat. "I'd love to come back and speak," he says. His message is one he learned here on campus more than 20 years ago. "Always be a student of your own profession. Once you believe you know everything, it's time to retire," he says. "And make sure you have integrity. Everyone is smart. Everyone is ambitious. Integrity is what separates."

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Last modified August 12, 2004, by the Office of Public Affairs and Publications