A Surprise Job Offer for a Rising Star

A few years ago, my oldest son became a student at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. As he was preparing to head out for his freshman year, I ran across a Houston Chronicle article about one his new classmates, a student named Starjjil “Star” Shelvin, from Katy, Texas. The article told the story of how Star was able to overcome a lot of adversity including the death of a parent and significant financial struggles that resulted in him having to work several concurrent jobs in order to help pay the bills. Despite all of this, Star maintained a 4.0 grade point average, lettered in football and wrestling, and was recruited to play football at Trinity University. As I read the story, I was amazed by the perseverance and grit that this young man displayed at such a young age.

Fast forward 3 years and I had the opportunity to meet Star at the Trinity Career fair this past February. He came by and introduced himself to me and another Dell executive. Both of us were blown away by the maturity, character, and drive that Star demonstrated. The only thing was, he didn’t fit the mold of who we normally would hire into the roles we were recruiting for in our Supply Chain organization. He wasn’t majoring in Business, Supply Chain, Analytics, or other related fields – instead, he was an Engineering Science Major. He also didn’t have any relevant work experience – instead, he had been working several concurrent jobs in retail and around campus to help pay for school.

At the end of the day, however, these things really didn’t matter when it came to extending Star an offer to join us as an intern, because he possessed an incomparable work ethic and he demonstrated many of the attributes that comprises Dell’s Culture Code and Leadership Principles including integrity, drive, and results. Our approach in this decision was rooted in a quote that I had once heard from the legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”

Star joined Dell as an intern this past May and he had a steep learning curve ahead of him. The corporate environment was new to him and so was every task that he was asked to do. But Star has been overcoming the odds his entire life, and it didn’t stop here. The summer went by in a flash and Star continued to shine as he learned the skills needed to be successful and impressed everyone he interacted with. As his internship wrapped up, we knew that we wanted to extend him a full time offer to join the Dell team after graduation. But since, he had to head back to school early for his pre-season football workouts, we weren’t able to confirm his offer before his last day. So, I called his football coach and asked him if I could visit one of the team’s pre-season practices to extend an offer to Star. The surprise job offer was emotional for both of us as Star has become an inspiration to me and I learned a lot from him this summer as well. His coaches caught the special moment on camera and posted the moment on the Trinity Athletics social media feed.

We are looking forward to welcoming Star back to Dell next summer as an example of the character that we value in our team members.

Mike Owens

About the Author: Mike Owens

Mike Owens is the Vice President of Digital Transformation for in Dell’s Global Operations team. In this role, Mike manages a team responsible for digitizing the Dell Supply Chain planning processes. Mike joined Dell in 1999 and his previous roles include executive leadership of the Dell/EMC integration of the Indirect and Software Procurement teams; management of both Indirect and Software sourcing teams; Software Alliance and Product Marketing; and Manufacturing and Shared Services. Prior to Dell, Mike worked as an IT Strategist at the Procter & Gamble Company and he also served for 5 years as a Military Intelligence Officer in the United States Army, and Mike also spent 3 years at BMC Software as the Senior Director of Hardware Alliances. During Mike’s time in the Army, he served at posts in the United States, Kuwait, and Korea. Mike graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and he received his master’s in information systems from Drexel University. Away from work, Mike is active in the community volunteering at his local church as a youth leader, coaching youth basketball, and working with the Austin charity organization Mobile Loaves and Fishes to help feed Austin’s homeless population.