A Student-Teacher Relationship Turned Lifelong Friendship
Jon Allen and Donavon Favre began their decade-long relationship as student and teacher in the classroom at the Poole College of Management. Allen looked to Favre, a lecturer in supply chain management, as a mentor during his academic career, and Favre still sees Allen as one of his best students.
“Jon was not only an excellent student — bright analytically, great work ethic, a broad thinker — but he also spent time helping other students understand the material,” Favre said. “He is not only one of my best students, he is one of the best people I have known.”
With the help of Favre as a mentor over the last decade, Allen has gone from being an NC State student to becoming CEO for a local non-profit company, Water for Good, whose mission is to provide clean, lasting water in the rural, underdeveloped areas of the Central African Republic (CAR).
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Allen, though, considering he graduated during the 2008 economic recession, which made it nearly impossible for him and his peers to find jobs at the time. He looked to Favre for advice, who helped him discover the non-profit at which he’s spent the last ten years of his career.
Not only did Allen initially land a position at Water for Good thanks to Favre’s help, but he also encouraged his former teacher to bring his expertise to the organization. Favre happily obliged, and has been a donor and served as a senior advisor for the non-profit in the time since, helping to guide Allen and his team’s efforts and playing a critical role on Allen’s path to becoming the organization’s CEO earlier this year.
Given the demands of the organization’s operations, it’s easy to see why Favre’s expertise has been a great asset to Allen and his team.
To fulfill its mission, Water for Good utilizes supply chain management to create materials, labor and monitoring networks in the resource-scarce CAR to avert the serious health consequences that come with having a lack of clean drinking water. Guided by its mantra “More water, faster, longer”, the non-profit runs one of the most efficient maintenance and repair programs for rural water services in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“After I graduated, we stayed in touch, and he helped me work through supply chain problems that came up at Water for Good,” Allen said. “Since we were such a small team, it was so helpful to have a supply chain expert to run strategies by and bounce ideas off of.”
When looking back at his time at Poole, Allen believes his supply chain practicum course best prepared him for his current role through working with a team and a real company that eventually led to an internship with Nortel, a multinational telecommunications and data networking equipment manufacturer.
“It gave me a ton of real-world experience and helped me to learn how hard it can be sometimes to make well-informed decisions in an actual business environment,” Allen said.
When asked about advice for future and current supply chain students wanting to enter the nonprofit industry, Favre believes developing useful skills — on top of the need to give — is the best way to market yourself to organizations.
“Having a giving heart and wanting to do good are noble and enviable traits, but helping people requires organizing, planning and managing resources effectively,” Favre said.
With Allen now at the helm of Water for Good and Favre continuing to serve as a senior advisor, the once student-teacher duo continue to grow their now decade-long friendship as they work towards fulfilling their shared vision together.