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Board of Advisors Spotlight: Jon Pershke

As vice president of business strategy and development for Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group – and with a multitude of achievements under his belt – Jon Pershke brings an abundance of industry experience to the Poole College of Management Advisory Board. 

Among his many accomplishments at Lenovo, Pershke played a key role in establishing the Whitsett Fulfillment Center and Monterrey Manufacturing plant, as well as in transforming Lenovo’s supply chain – cutting its end-to-end costs by more than 50 percent and improving product delivery performance by 117 percent.

“Because I have a lot of perspective from Lenovo on what the industry most needs, I know how to make students at Poole more competitive,” Pershke says. “I also hold a master’s degree from the Sloan School of Management at MIT – a top-rated business school in the country – so I bring that perspective to the board, as well.”

In an effort to contribute his experience and insight to Poole – and in turn give back to the community – Pershke joined the college’s advisory board in 2013 as the representative for Lenovo.

“Lenovo has had a longstanding relationship with the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative and I want to extend that relationship wherever possible, so I picked up the responsibility to see how I could help,” Pershke says. “After all, NC State is part of my community – if I take a right out of my driveway and keep going, I would run into Nelson Hall. I also happen to land on the red end of the spectrum for local sporting allegiances.”

Since joining the board, Pershke has worked to help the college achieve its goals by nurturing industry relationships, developing the curriculum and identifying opportunities.

“I really enjoy the interaction with other board members and students – and I’m passionate about working alongside the board to provide students with the tools they need to be successful professionals.”

A key part of this, he says, is identifying key skills to shape Poole’s curriculum and ensure it evolves in step with a growing industry.

“A great example of this is data analytics. Quite a few years ago, the board identified it as a key skill – and it has since become part of the Poole College curriculum,” Pershke says. In recent years, Poole has expanded its offerings in this growing field by launching the Business Analytics Initiative, the Business Analytics Honors Program, as well as a forthcoming master’s of management in marketing analytics degree.

“This goes to show how instrumental the board is in helping the college stay relevant to today’s business needs,” he continues. “Ultimately the students become the winners, as they develop the skills they need to embark on successful careers.”

By bringing relevant industry experience to the classroom, students are prepared to Think and Do – which is what Pershke says sets Poole apart from other business schools. 

“Certainly, colleges must prepare students to think – but at the end of the day, companies need employees who know how to do as well. Marrying these two things, then, is exactly what universities should be doing – and Poole exemplifies that approach. With its consortium and practicums, Poole marries theory together with practice.”

Looking ahead, Pershke anticipates Poole will continue to grow and stand out – in large part due to the board’s investment.

“This year, the board split up into sub-groups to more effectively develop the curriculum, strengthen industry relationships and connect with research and faculty. Together, this creates a dynamic for Poole to shine,” he says.

For this reason, Pershke continues, the advisory board isn’t just a win for Poole graduates – but also for the local industries.

“It really is a win-win. By bringing relevant industry experience to Poole, we get to help students get competitive jobs, do well in their careers and provide real value to the industries in which they work,” he says. “And in turn, that creates more pull for Poole students as companies look to recruit new talent.”

This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.

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