Alumni feature: young alum finds fit with highjump

Jerry Zhang is a recent Appalachian State University graduate and an international sales consultant for HighJump, a computer software company offering connected solutions in supply chain responsiveness.

Engaged Students

Originally from China, Zhang came to Boone in 2012 to study supply chain management at Appalachian. His study abroad advisor had previously visited Appalachian and recommended the university as a great value for Zhang's college education.

As a student, Zhang became engaged in a long list of co-curricular educational opportunities, including leadership positions with Alpha Lota Mu, the International Honor Society, the International Friendship Association, AIESEC International and the Appalachian Supply Chain Management Club (ASCC). As president of ASCC, Zhang coordinated professional development activities for members, led networking and community involvement events, and through his work had ample opportunity to connect with industry executives.

It was through an ASCC interaction that Zhang first met HighJump Senior Vice President David Scott Houser. Houser was on Appalachian's campus serving as a guest lecturer discussing ' Mega Trends' in supply-chain over the next 10 years. According to Houser, while many of the supply chain students would have been ideal employees, Zhang stood out from the crowd thanks to a powerful combination of international and supply chain experiences.

Through AIESEC, Zhang had completed an internship at Cairo University in Egypt, where he built global marketing websites and promoted global internships. He had completed a second internship while at Appalachian with THI-Global Logistics, where he gained experience in global logistics.

Zhang believes international experience is key to career success. "International experience always helps you stand out," he said. 

Houser agrees. "We are delighted with Jerry, who is serving as a consultant in our Shanghai facility," said Houser. "The Information Systems graduates from Appalachian enter our company well prepared for a rewarding career in technical sales and pre-sales."

The Appalachian Network

Some might call Houser an expert on Appalachian grads. That's because Houser also earned a BSBA from the Walker College of Business. After earning his degree in international business in 1988, Houser created a distinguished career as an information technology and supply chain management executive with companies such as Oracle and IBM, before joining the HighJump team.

Houser now leads HighJump's global sales and implementations, and he keeps his relationship with Appalachian strong. 

"From my days as a student to now leading a global business, Appalachian is a special place for me," Houser said. "I find Appalachian students well-prepared to enter the job market."

Houser has served as an advisory board member for the Walker College of Business for the last three years, and he's on the lookout for the next Jerry Zhang. 

Assisting in Transition from College to Career

While the transition from college to career may seem daunting to some, business students have the upper hand from the quality professor-student interaction, the dynamic curriculum, and the inclusion of students at every board meeting, according to Houser. "It is a great way of introducing the student to the job market sometimes years before they actually get there," he said.

Providing summer internship and employment opportunities to our students is just one of the many ways our advisory board members provide support and guidance to our program," said Dinesh S. Dave', chair of the Department of Computer Information Systems & Supply Chain Management.  

While Zhang was a student planning his career, Dave' said Houser welcomed both student and professor into his home to speak about the industry, its future and the transition to working full time. 

Regarding his role on the Supply Chain Management Board of Advisors, Houser said that mentoring (and sometimes hiring) students is only part of the benefit.

"It is of great personal value that I can meet with other people in the industry, connect with the professors and get an idea about how and where the university's program is heading," he said. "I hope to help the college become a supply chain leader not only in the region but at a global level."

Zhang advises all Appalachian students to be well-rounded, culturally. "Learn a second language," he said. "Make as many as international connections as you can, you never know one day it will change your life!"

About International Programs

The Walker College of Business incorporates a global orientation as an integral component of students’ academic experience. The college has partnerships with universities across the globe and continues to expand ground-breaking opportunities in emerging markets, adding new program destinations and encouraging more students to spend a semester or year abroad. All business students fulfill an international requirement, and an increasing number choose to study abroad through a wide variety of exchange programs. All business students are encouraged, but not required, to study abroad. Each year, business students studied or completed internships in more than 20 countries on five continents, through both short-term or semester-long exchange opportunities. Nearly 25% of Walker College graduates participated in international study abroad educational opportunities while at Appalachian.

Jerry Zhang
Published: Aug 15, 2017 5:53pm