Alumni Spotlight: Jim Kelly

Posted on October 1, 2018 by MCOB Outreach
MCOB Outreach

Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly chose South after receiving a Presidential Scholarship from the university. He graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting. Jim says that South not only provided him with the tools to succeed in a great career but also a place to grow as a person.

When reflecting on his time at the Mitchell College of Business, Kelly recalled the positive experience he had while at South. “I enjoyed every minute, both socially and academically.” After graduation, he spent several years working for a local Mobile CPA firm and the Morrison’s Restaurant Group. Realizing he loved the private sector, he relocated to New Orleans and spent the remainder of his 32 professional years serving as the financial administrator to four different family-owned businesses. He says his work with these families often overlaps: 15 years with the Rabin family of New Orleans, LA, wholesale distributor, graphics production and property management; 10 years with the Burris family of Franklinton, LA, an animal-feed manufacturing company; 8 years with the Long family of Mobile, AL, credit corporation, boat dealership, marina and restaurant; and 11 years with the Lipscomb family of Foley, AL, commercial farming enterprise.

Jim is currently the Chief Financial Officer of the Lipscomb Companies in Foley, Alabama. Lipscomb is a group of family-owned agricultural companies. Kelly’s position has a very wide scope, including, but not limited to, accounting, human resources, marketing and anything else that is needed. “Working with a group of small businesses does not allow one to be single minded or proud. You must be a team player and ready and willing to step in wherever needed,” he says.

Jim says South taught him the ‘tools of his trade’ as far as accounting is concerned. The school provided him with the opportunity to take on leadership positions that gave him the public-relations skills that he has found key to his successes. The first four or five years of his career were a time of trial and error. As Kelly gained experience working with large sectors, such as Morrison’s (i.e., Ruby Tuesdays), he learned he did not care for large-sector business. Instead, Kelly found himself enjoying the small-business environment. “I have gotten the chance to work in diverse types of businesses. Each one I found fascinating. My career has given me exposure to so many interesting things, from animal-diet formulation to graphic arts and everything in between. My career has been one huge personal growth opportunity.”

His advice to students is to pay attention, absorb everything, and constantly evolve your thought processes. “Know and defend what you know to be true. At the same time, know what you DO NOT know and seek to change that. There is always a better way - just find it.”



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