Mentor to Many
(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
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
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."