Paramount Global Partners
CLASS OF 1974
For Donn Atkins, the economic downturn of 2009 was eerily similar to the situation he faced as a graduate student from the University of Pittsburgh looking for work in the 1970s. “Half of my MBA class did not have a job,” he recalls. Despite the gloomy prospects, Atkins acquired a sales position with a large insurance company in the Pittsburgh area. Thankful for the position, yet yearning for more, Atkins was excited at the chance to interview with IBM for a sales job in St. Louis. The interview must have gone well, because 30 years and many promotions later, Atkins retired from IBM as general manager of the global business partners program.
Though he embarked on a career in business, Atkins’ intention during his early years at Washington & Jefferson College was to attend medical school. However, his economics classes convinced him to go in a different direction. While he was defining his career path, Atkins also took time to appreciate the diversity of ideas and interests that the College offered its students. “The variety of people, activities, and curricula at W&J caused me to better understand the spectrum of issues and thoughts in the world,” he reminisces. “This also prepared me to appreciate the different cultures and people I would work with throughout my career.”
Atkins’ career at IBM culminated in an executive position that gave him responsibility for the global partners program, doing business with 90,000 partners around the world and driving about a third of the company’s revenue. Today, Atkins applies
the experiences he gained at IBM in his new role as founder and senior partner of Paramount Global Partners. With this consulting business, he helps young technology companies plan for growth and develop partnerships.
Though his career has taken him around the world, Atkins remains close to his W&J roots, staying updated on the changes occurring on campus. “Tradition is important, but so is progress,” he stresses. “I am happy to see W&J evolving with the times.”