UNC Charlotte features Influential Business Leaders

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Once a small business college, UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business is now a well-known name in Charlotte, growing in its role as a vital intellectual resource to the business community. Currently, 18,000 Belk College of Business graduates are working in the Charlotte region, placing the college’s alumni network among the city’s four largest corporations in scale.


Belk College of Business Alumni Leaders
featured at Charlotte Douglas International Airport 

In fact, a recent US News and World Report article found the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is one of only twelve schools in the country to have multiple alumni serving as CEO's of Fortune 100 companies. Those include Joseph Swedish, CEO of Anthem, Inc., who graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1972 and Robert Niblock, CEO of Lowes Companies, Inc., who graduated with a B.S. in accounting from the Belk College of Business in 1984. Lowe's holds the number 47 spot on the 2016 Fortune 500 list and Anthem, Inc. holds the number 33 spot.

In an effort to recognize influential business leaders such as Robert Niblock, the Belk College of Business has embarked on a campaign to spotlight six stand-out alumni, with the initial six local and national business leaders prominently featured at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Carol P. Lowe, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Sealed Air, graduated from the Belk College of Business with her bachelor's degree in accounting in 1987. Mrs. Lowe is a member of The Committee of 200, (C200), an invitation-only membership organization of the world’s most successful women business leaders.
When asked her advice to current Belk College students, Mrs. Lowe stated:
“Recognize that the UNC Charlotte professors are there to help you be successful; promote that you are at a world-class learning institution even if the rest of the world is just now waking up to what has been true for many years.”

Dave Wedding, Chairman of the Partnership Board and Managing Partner for the Mid-South Region at Grant Thornton, received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from UNC Charlotte in 1980. Mr. Wedding has more than 30 years of experience in public accounting in external audit and many of Grant Thornton’s Advisory Services practice areas, including internal audit and forensic accounting. He also serves on the Belk College’s Board of Advisors and Accounting Advisory Board.
When asked about his Belk College experience, Mr. Wedding said:
“UNC Charlotte provided me with a solid foundation in business and public accounting that has remained valuable for more than 30 years.”

Julie Harris, Enterprise Credit Data, Allowance and Reporting Risk Executive at Bank of America, graduated in 2000, majoring in finance with a focus on financial analysis and accounting. After graduation, she joined Bank of America’s Finance Management Associate Program within the CFO Group and was recently named one of Charlotte’s top Forty Under 40 by the Charlotte Business Journal.
When asked about the best part of her Belk College experience, Mrs. Harris responded:
"The best part was the opportunity to be exposed to talented professionals. I was able to connect with individuals within the financial services industry locally and gain leadership experience across so many facets within and around the college.”

Manuel L. Zapata, President of Zapata Engineering, was one of the Belk College’s first MBA graduates in 1972. Zapata believes in strong civic engagement and through the NC Department of Commerce, the Charlotte Chamber and Sister Cities program he has worked to strengthen Charlotte’s economic ties to the world.
When asked about starting his international business, Mr. Zapata stated:
"I wanted to have my own company built on my core values of trust, integrity and quality. I wanted to see if I could put into practice what I had learned in the MBA program.”

Susan DeVore, President and Chief Executive Officer of Premier, Inc., earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the Belk College in 1981. DeVore is an industry-leading thinker who has been named multiple times to Modern Healthcare's 100 Most Influential People and Top 25 Women in Healthcare lists. She was also the featured speaker of the Fall 2016 Belk College CEO Speaker Series.
When asked how her education prepared her for a successful career, DeVore said:
“The Belk College and life and career experience has taught me that college is all about “learning to learn,” and that business principles are applicable across all industry groups. I was able to get a very foundational, grounded grasp of all kinds of business principles – finance, accounting, marketing, policy, economics and organizational design.  All of these learnings have been applied in many ways to many different industries over the years.”

Finally, Robert A. Niblock has been the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Lowe's Companies Inc. since 2005 and has also served as its President since 2011. Mr. Niblock was the inaugural speaker of the Belk College CEO Speaker Series in 2015, where he announced a major gift to support and name the Robert A. Niblock Student Center for Professional Development.
When asked about his Belk College experience, Mr. Niblock said:
“In addition to an outstanding education, I always felt comfortable, yet challenged during my time at UNC Charlotte. This was important to me because, as the first member of my family to attend college, I didn't quite know what to expect. The quality of the faculty allowed me to quickly acclimate and pursue my educational aspirations.”

Both Susan DeVore and Robert Niblock hold the title of “Influential Leaders” by the AACSB for the positive impact they make on society, making the Belk College of Business one of few business schools to have two alumni recognized for this distinguished honor. Mr. Niblock was honored in 2016, and Susan DeVore was honored in 2015.


The Belk College is committed to building strong partnerships in the Greater Charlotte region and beyond as a vital part of our mission as North Carolina's urban research business school. Find the Belk College of Business online at belkcollege.uncc.edu.

Meet more Belk College of Business Alumni in our Faces of Belk College profiles.