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Black college students at Johnson C. Smith University students heard valuable advice about how to engineer a successful career in corporate America during the 2nd Annual Retail Industry Day onThursday.

“Be open to starting at an entry level position,” Charles Devenney of Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated told the students. “You’ll learn information that will help you move on to the next position.”

Devenney was one of six panelists to participate in the panel, which was sponsored by JCSU’s Department of Business Administration & Economics. The panel discussion focused on “The Power of Supply Chain Management.”

This year’s panelists discussed the changing retail landscape as well as the forces, such as the recession and Hurricane Irene, impacting the industry. Panelists included:

· Charles Devenney, Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated

· Chandra Sekhar, Electrolux

· Debbie Fortnum, Belk, Inc

· Eboni Haynes, Belk, Inc.

· Jamil Lightner, Snyder’s-Lance, Inc

· Maurice Gray, Wal-Mart Stores

The discussion gave students an inside look at corporate America. Most of the students were participants in JCSU’s Retail Management Program. For some, the discussion helped them gain a better understanding of their potential field. Other students said it was inspirational and encouraging to see so many executives talking to them about future employment opportunities.

“I learned a lot regarding the different kinds of careers you can have outside of what we see everyday in business like being a manager of a business or in finance or accounting,” said sophomore Kemile Jones, a management and economics major.

Imparting that type of knowledge is why Maurice Gray of Wal-Mart Stores participated in the discussion. Not only did Gray give students an in depth rundown of the ins and outs of supply chain management, he also promised to offer a JCSU student an internship at the company.

“The panel is a great avenue and a great stepping stone to allow the students to see what corporate America has to offer,” Gray said. “There are African Americans in high power positions that make decisions. ”

At JCSU, the students met a handful of those executives and learned about the skills necessary for them to one day become executives.