Catawba College appoints new dean of Its Ketner School of Business

Published 2:57 pm Thursday, July 16, 2015

Catawba College News Service

Catawba College has appointed a new Dean for its Ralph W. Ketner School of Business.  College President Brien Lewis announced that Jay Abraham of Mooresville will succeed Dr. Pamela Thompson, who will return to faculty ranks in the Ketner School of Business. Abraham begins work on Aug. 1.

In making the announcement, Lewis noted Abraham’s extensive business experience and valuable business relationships “that will assist our faculty and students in continuing to enhance the experiential components of Catawba’s business program.”  He said that Abraham’s breadth of knowledge about different business sectors, including sports, media and entertainment, traditional packaged goods marketing, and grocery retail, “will help our faculty to design and deliver a curriculum with solid foundations in both academic and real world business applications.”

“I also want to thank Dr. Thompson for her leadership and guidance of the school. She has provide a strong foundation for Jay’s appointment,” Lewis said, “and I appreciate that she wants to return to her first passion, teaching Catawba’s students.”

According to Catawba Provost Dr. J. Michael Bitzer, Abraham’s charge in his new role will be “to continue to vigorously pursue our institutional goal of accreditation for the business school and to not only strengthen the existing academic programs, but also build our new academic program offerings in accounting and sports communication and continue to explore other academic initiatives and partnerships.”

“Jay’s professional experience will serve as a critical lynchpin to what Catawba’s faculty does in the classroom in preparing our graduates from the Ketner School of Business,” Bitzer said. “Jay’s leadership will help the college fulfill its mission of providing an education rich in personal attention and that blends the competencies and skills of liberal studies with career preparation.”

Abraham, who holds his bachelor of arts degree in English and American literature from Brown University and his MBA from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, has been described as an “intrapreneur” who focuses on building teams and businesses from the ground up.  His areas of expertise include marketing strategy development, business building capabilities, professional relationship building, budget development and management, profit and loss management, revenue generation, branding strategies, content creation and team-member coordination.

In accepting his position as dean of the Ketner School of Business, Abraham said he was already relishing the challenges it would bring.  “I have been very impressed with the faculty and the opportunities offered at Catawba,” he shared, noting that higher education was one business sector he had not yet engaged in during the course of his varied career and sees great opportunity to leverage his creativity and strategic vision in concert with the existing leadership of the College.

Since 2012, he has served as principal for Abraham Marketing & Media.  His company has provided consulting services to build strategic vision to grow emerging businesses, create integrated marketing solutions, and develop core brand positionings.  His current clients include Red Bull Media House, Earnhardt Outdoors, Hammerhead Entertainment, Stoneacre Partners, Global Innovation Ventures, the National Wheelchair Basketball Association and Real Time Immersion (RTI).

From 2001 to 2012, he was employed by NASCAR, serving from 2001-2006 as president and CEO of NASCAR Images, and from 2007-2012, as chief operating officer for NASCAR Media Group and vice president of New Media & Content for NASCAR.  In these roles, he coordinated and led production, post-production, intellectual property rights management/licensing, content development, sales, distribution, business development, and broadcast rights management. He won four Sports Emmys and was nominated for 14 Sports Emmys over a six-year time period.

He was employed as vice president for business development by H.J. Heinz Company between 1998 and 2001, identifying and coordinating growth opportunities for the frozen food category of the company. Between 1994 and 1998, Abraham worked for Food Lion, Inc. as vice president of marketing, implementing the industry’s first-ever frequent shopper program, Food Lion’s MVP Card.

Abraham also worked for Heinz  from 1985-1993, holding a variety of positions.  He served as vice president of marketing and general manager of business development for Weight Watchers Food Company between 1991 and 1993, launching a strategically redefined business plan that focused on the company’s trademark and resulted in double digit sales growth.  Other roles he held at Heinz USA included general manager marketing from 1988-1991, group product manager from 1987-1988, and product manager from 1985-1987.

His earliest work experiences were for General Mills, Inc. and International Business Machines.  At General Mills, he served as assistant product manager for Yoplait Yogurt between 1983 and 1985, and as marketing assistant for Hamburger Helper between 1982 and 1983.  He held the role of marketing representative for IBM between 1978 and 1980.