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Clay Jackson

“While learning academics and technical skills, also know that emotional intelligence and soft skills are equally important,” Jackson says.

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For Clay Jackson (HCB, ‘01), being a Volunteer means giving back. While he says he bleeds orange as a Vol fan, he also feels that the definition of a Vol is being a servant leader.

“Whether it is mentoring, speaking to classes, presenting at events to expand the profession or serving on the board of directors for the Middle Tennessee chapter of Goodwill, helping and developing others is very important,” Jackson says.

The vice president of supply chain planning for Tractor Supply Company regularly takes time from his busy schedule to share his expertise through Haslam College of Business supply chain classes. He advises students to absorb as much knowledge as possible through their academic experience.

“Be a lifelong learner and remain intellectually curious,” Jackson says. “Enjoy the journey. Stay humble; stay hungry.”

He also encourages students to sharpen their soft skills as they prepare to enter the workforce.

“While learning academics and technical skills, also know that emotional intelligence and soft skills are equally important,” he says. “Things like leadership, communication, listening, decision making and self-awareness come to mind.”

In the office, Jackson is often multitasking in a fast-paced environment.

“I’m usually bouncing around working on short-term execution; medium-term continuous improvement ideas to reduce cost, time, and improve quality; and more long-term innovation within the supply chain,” Jackson says.

Applying the advice he shares with UT students to his own work, he looks for innovation in supply chain. His days might involve specific initiatives like supply chain strategy and design, new technologies and systems, future infrastructure, advanced data and analytics capabilities and omni-channel strategy and fulfillment.

Jackson still returns to Knoxville as much as possible, enjoying game days and nostalgic locations, like Ye Olde Steakhouse.

“My favorite memories are always the people,” said Jackson. “My parents still live in Knoxville, so I’m a frequent visitor.”