MBA alum gives back to local youth after 35 years in the corporate world
Will Shelby MBA ’21 grew up in southern California, attending Loyola High School before heading off to Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans for one year. In between school years, he joined the US Army Reserve, hoping to serve as a dental assistant/lab technician. He ended up moving back to southern California, where he enrolled at California State University, Long Beach and joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), offered through UCLA, which offered significant help with the financial burdens of college and best of all, leadership skills. After earning his degree in economics in 1986, he was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant and attended the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, KY. He would go on to become a captain serving as a platoon leader, company executive officer of a military intelligence company and a battalion staff intelligence officer. He served a total of 13 years in the US Army Reserve.
After his military schooling, he went to work as a Distribution Supervisor at Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, distributing pharmaceutical supplies for two years. He moved on to sell pharmaceuticals for Bristol Meyers and Bausch and Lomb before getting recruited by Nike’s Beaverton, Oregon, campus. Will served as a Specialty Sales Manager and Jordan Brand National Sales Director for Nike and even spent one year in Toronto as one of the country’s managers for Athletic Specialty, Sporting Goods and other specialty national accounts. All told, he spent twenty-one years working for Nike, spending the last five as a Category Sales Director in Skateboarding for Athletic Specialty accounts such as Foot Locker, Champs and East Bay.
Will retired from Nike in 2017 and immediately began working with the young men of the Central Catholic High School (CCHS, Portland, OR) Rams men’s basketball program for Head Coach David Blue. “I was a football guy but I’ve always had an easy time working with young men helping to mold them as a family with strong character values and keeping them focused with high standards so when Coach Blue offered me that opportunity, I felt like it was a great fit to help give back after thirty-five years in the corporate world,” he said.
In 2019, Will began the online MBA program at SOU, hoping to continue as a lifelong learner and to keep challenging himself. It worked! “Once I started the program, I was asking myself what was I doing and who am I? It had been a long time since my undergraduate days and I felt like I was a bit rusty academically and was somewhat overwhelmed,” he said. But he persevered through the tough times and got himself into a confident routine. Though he struggled with accounting, he was mentored through it by business professor Dennis Slattery and department graduate assistant Doug Daley. He grew to love the program’s small class sizes and the experienced professors who were great at making real-world applications and connections. He continues to give of his time to the CCHS basketball program to this day.
“One of my favorite quotes is this from Malcom X: ‘Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.’ SOU was that passport for me and my future in any area that I choose to pursue.”
Learn more: Nike