FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University presented its 2008-2009 alumni awards at an Alumni Appreciation Dinner, Feb. 5.
The Outstanding Alumnus is James Harrell. He graduated from FMU in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Harrell earned a master’s degree in 2002 in business administration from Duke University and was the 1993 FMU School of Buysiness Outstanding Alumnus. He is division vice president and general manager of Paper, North America for Sonoco Products Company.
The Society Hill native joined Sonoco in 1985 and has held a number of domestic and international management positions in both the company’s industrial and consumer segments. Prior to his most recent assignment, Harrell was division vice president and general manager, Industrial Products/Paper, Europe. He also served as president of Sonoco Ltd in Canada, general manager of Cone operations in the United States and operations director of the former Capseals Division in Slough, England.
Harrell has had many exciting and challenging assignments during his career with Sonoco. One of his greatest opportunities came when he was asked to manage the creation of Sonoco-Alcore, a joint venture between Sonoco and the Ahlstrom Corporation (Helsinki, Finland) to combine their respective European paper-based tube/core and coreboard operations. He said the process of combing the two taught him volumes about managing diversity and cultural differences in a difficult business setting.
Harrell serves on the board of the FMU Alumni Association, is a member of the Hartsville Kiwanis Club serving as 1st Vice President, a member of the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association and serves on the Advisory Board of Directors for the Hartsville Regional Airport.
He is married to Renee who is also a 1985 FMU alum and they have two children: Tyler and Cole.
The Benjamin Wall Ingram III Young Alumnus is Andrew R. Ross. Ross graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA from FMU in 2001, earning a bachelor’s degree in management. As a student and a member of the FMU golf team, this native of South Africa balanced his dedication to athletics and studies by achieving the Peach Belt Conference Student Athlete of the Year Award in 2001, Academic All-America Team Award in 2000, as well as earning the prestigious Blackwell Award, which designates the graduate with the highest GPA. After graduation, Ross began his career as an analyst with ESAB Welding and Cutting Products and later managed the gas apparatus production operation.
In 2005, he left Florence for Columbia University Business School in New York where he graduated in 2007 with an MBA in finance and economics. While at Columbia, Ross continued to build on the foundation he began at FMU by graduating as a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honorary Society denoting the top 20% of the graduating class, and making the Dean’s List every semester. He currently works on Wall Street with Morgan Stanley as an associate in the investment banking division. In this capacity, Ross assists global corporations on mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, capital structure considerations, and the raising of capital. The most recent public announcement in which Ross advised, was the $3.0 billion proposed acquisition of Diebold, Inc. by United Technologies, which became public in March of 2008.
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