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Cover of Spring - Summer 2002 Issue


in a very honest way, in a straightforward way ... I play to win

When J. Harold Hatchett III, '83, talks about self-confidence, people listen

J. Harold Hatchett III, '83 at Longwood last FallHarold Hatchett came back to Longwood for several days last November, eager to talk to students in the School of Business and Economics. For one session, accounting and finance students in Hiner Auditorium got a lesson in success. In other, one-on-one sessions, Hatchett interviewed students for evaluation at Shell Oil Company's Fast Track Management assessment center, a gateway to employment with the company and a fast track for advancement. He also met with administrators including Dr. Earl Gibbons, Dean of the School of Business and Economics, and with President Patricia Cormier.

In the early 80s, Hatchett was a quiet student in Dr. Kris Palmer's accounting classes. He sat by a window in Ruffner, drawing attention only by the red shoelaces he wore as a fraternity pledge. Even then, Hatchett says, he was looking ahead - ahead to what he wanted and that was "to complete his years at Longwood, to make money and to be really successful."

Now, Hatchett is the Global Business Services Manager/COO for Shell Finance Services. He is based in London but travels throughout the world. He reports directly to the CEO, and global managers report to him in the areas of finance and planning; human resources; and marketing and communications, information systems and knowledge management. That is what a person with self-confidence does with a Longwood degree in finance and a concentration in accounting.

Hatchett's progression from then to now included graduate school and "pounding the streets of New York" for a job on Wall Street. After a few months of pounding, Hatchett landed a job with Aetna Insurance as a financial analyst. He worked on Wall Street for a couple of years, enjoyed earning some money after the lean student years, and made the most of an opportunity to show what he could do.

What he could do led to a job with BMG/RCA Records and promotions from manager of finance to director of domestic finance, to director of international finance, to vice president of domestic, and finally to vice president of worldwide finance. He says, "Travelling worldwide, talking to people of different cultures, really enriched the way I approached a project. The VP role was terrific." Structuring multi-million dollar acquisitions for the company was his speciality.

A call from an executive recruiter led to a move to Citicorp Venture Capital. Here, Hatchett turned around a failing company in the Citicorp Venture Capital portfolio which then sold for far more than its "book" value. Executive recruiters called again; this time the company was Shell Offshore Companies Inc., offering a position as chief financial officer in New Orleans. In this job, Hatchett took complete financial responsibility and control of a $3 billion company. That was four years ago. Two years ago the Royal Dutch Shell Group called and asked, "Why don't you come to London to do some things on a global basis? Be the global business services manager?"

Hatchett thought about the required move to England. His wife, Charlease '87, whom he describes as "always very supportive," said, "This is a great opportunity. Let's go." Their children - Arianna, who is 11, and James Harold IV, who is seven - were eager to see "Purdy" of 101 Dalmations. Plus, "the compensation package was good." They went.

Of his "global" life, Hatchett says, "I fly a lot - 200,000 miles a year on Continental alone. But my family is very important to me. I try to be home every weekend." His children attend "a terrific American school'; his wife does "a lot of volunteer work" which includes trans-Atlantic support for scholarships and organizations like the African-American Alumni Student Interest Group at Longwood. He calls Shell "a fantastic corporation" that is also "friendly." In five years he will be a CEO - that's his plan.

Hatchett encouraged each Longwood student to make and execute a five-year plan and a 10-year plan. Students asked, "What's the most important thing we can do for success?" He answered, "Get the basics right. Get the coursework. Work at being self-driven. Have confidence in yourself."

Hatchett called the Longwood School of Business and Economics "topnotch," noting its recent accreditation and a "state-of-the-art facility." He said, "I don't care what school you're attending; based on infrastructure and technology, it's fabulous." He added, "You get a quality education here. Be proud of the fact that you're Longwood grads."

As a student in the early 80s, Hatchett had a short stint playing point guard on the Longwood men's basketball team. He says he learned "leadership, team dynamics, working hard, conditioning - how to get a team to work with you and get the most out of teammates." He encouraged students to be "well-rounded," adding that his daughter and son play basketball, soccer and baseball.

Leadership, he learned as a point guard; self-confidence was instilled earlier: "My dad was the person who helped to mold me into being self-determined and self-confident, and my mother was the reinforcer." Business sense came early too - from James Harold Sr., Hatchett's grandfather who owned a lumber mill in Lunenburg County for 40 years. "I was given the opportunity to see how business works. He's one of the smartest guys that I've ever had a conversation with." In concluding his exchange with students, Hatchett said to Dr. Kris Palmer, "You've been a positive influence in my life and I thank you."

To the assembled students he said, "Go out and be ambassadors for Longwood. There are other people coming behind you. Give back."

Coming back and giving back was an "extreme joy" for Hatchett. But he paid a high price. He missed his son's Saturday soccer game, and he's the coach.

Judy McReynolds
Associate Editor