Contributed by Lily Pezzullo-Frank, Coordinator of External Programs & Communications for the Cameron School of Business.
Click here to visit Darion Jeralds LinkedIn Page
Darion Jeralds graduated cum laude from UNCW as the Outstanding Graduate for Operations Management in 2010. While at UNCW, he was a captain of the Men’s Basketball team and was honored as the CAA Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2009. After graduation, he was hired as a Sourcing Specialist for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas. In May 2014, he earned an MBA from UNCW and was promoted to Commercial Sourcing Program Leader. Working his way up in GE, Jeralds was recognized with the JJ Murphy Extra Step Award, a prestigious honor presented to GE leaders who demonstrate substantive effort in utilizing small and diverse businesses in the US. He then went on to join the GE Advanced Supply Chain program and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a second master’s degree in 2017. He was again promoted in April 2020, this time to Senior Strategic Sourcing Leader, leading a seasoned team of sourcing professionals responsible for managing the commercial relationship with suppliers to optimize direct material cost and inventory. In July 2020, Jeralds was also named the Chief Diversity Officer for GE Hitachi. In this role, he is responsible for driving the culture of diversity, equity and inclusion across the organization.
When asked how he managed to pull off two incredible promotions just months apart, Jeralds reflected: “I didn’t see the Chief Diversity Officer role coming. After the George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Brianna Taylor incidents this year, I reached out to the CEO to inquire about ways that our business can get involved and make a positive impact .”
Now, Jeralds leads inclusion and diversity initiatives within GE while also maintaining his role as the Senior Strategic Sourcing Leader. This dual responsibility enables him to become part of the change that he wishes to see within GE while maintaining the perspective of the day-to-day operations and decisions that his colleagues and other managers need to prioritize.
As research continues to show, diverse teams perform better, and this performance correlates with a company’s bottom line. To get there, Jeralds clarifies: “Diversity is reflected in the numbers of representation for underrepresented groups. Inclusion is in creating the environment where employees feel respected, accepted and that they belong.”
How does he intend to measure success in both numbers and environment? Jeralds leaned into his business training to bring these ideas to life. His strategy in creating a more diverse and inclusive GE Hitachi community starts with a four-pillar strategy: Culture, Employee Resource Groups, Partnerships, and Development. An initiative within these pillars is to actively seek, train, develop, and support diverse talent, so that GE Hitachi’s workforce reflects the community in which it operates. Ultimately, he and his colleagues are working to find ways to metricize each of these pillars and then tie them into GE Hitachi’s larger strategic goals and objectives. “Customers are looking for businesses to offer different ideas and innovative solutions,” Jerald says, “So, we are focused on building a culture that allows us to recruit, retain and promote the brightest talent from diverse backgrounds.”
In August 2020, GE Hitachi signed onto the Equal by 30 campaign, which focuses on furthering equal pay, leadership, and opportunity for women and minority groups within the energy sector. Using the four pillars to support this initiative and “in pledging to embrace the Equal by 30 principles, we will further our culture, not just to allow for different perspectives, but to expect them,” Jeralds announced in a press release.
Jeralds reflected on his time in the Cameron School of Business at UNCW, both as an undergraduate and an MBA alum: “My experience very directly reflects my supply chain role – all of the classes and professors presented real-world material. Every internship helped augment the curriculum. The MBA program was essential in building leadership skills.”
He attributes his time at Cameron to his ability to advance his career so quickly. “ My time as a student at UNCW provided me with the right tools to be successful and hit the ground running at GE. I draw on those learnings and experiences to execute in every new opportunity, including the most recent role as Chief Diversity Officer.” From there, Jeralds has finessed blending practical business leadership skills with humanities to humbly draw on resources and bring about the change the company, and he, wish to see.
Even his time in Men’s Basketball helped him prepare for this role. “I was a walk-on, so I had to work really hard to be able to play. Being on the team taught me how to have a strong work ethic, how to fully prepare, and how to compete. I’ve brought all of these skills into my career, too.”
Jeralds is actively engaged in community building as well, furthering his belief in strong connections and civic engagement. His community outreach activities include serving as a volunteer for United Way and coaching youth sports with Halo Hoops. He is also a graduate of the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Wilmington Program and has led various community service projects in support of the annual Leadership Wilmington event. He currently serves on Board of Directors for the UNCW Alumni Association and the Seahawk Club. He comes back to campus regularly to participate in events like CSB Business Week, Student-Athlete Etiquette Dinner and the Cape Fear Minority Enterprise Development Week. In 2017, he was named the UNCW Distinguished Young Alumnus of the Year.
Above all, Jerald’s balance of energy, passion, and humility is what drives these initiatives to success. Blending his dual roles in GE with his community engagement, Jeralds genuinely strives to encourage a universal culture that celebrates and expects diversity, equity and inclusion. When asked what he would say to his fellow alumni, Jeralds expressed his wish to see activism among his peers to do the same in their communities and workplaces. “It takes everyone, working together and with compassion for each other, to make our community a better place.”
Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 90 full-time faculty members and 30 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,600 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 750 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
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