The University of Texas at Austin
  • From executive suite to nursing, student still wants to make a difference

    By Nancy Neff
    Nancy Neff
    Published: May 15, 2008

    The company mantra when Jim O’Neill joined Apple Computer was “the journey is the reward.”

    It’s much the same for him now even though he is far from the hills of Silicon Valley where he was part of the technology hub as Apple’s vice president for worldwide logistics. At age 50, O’Neill decided to change careers, but still wanted to have personal contact with people.

    This is his plan when he graduates in May from the School of Nursing.

    “I’m not comfortable with two words—career and retirement,” said O’Neill. “I’m a type A personality and just can’t sit still.”

    He admits this will be the first time he has not had a six-figure income, but “if I wanted to chase the dollars, I’d go back to what I was doing.”

    O’Neill will graduate with a master’s degree in nursing as a clinical nurse specialist. While in school, he worked at the Heart Hospital of Austin. He is now interning with a local cardiologist who makes house calls and will continue full-time after graduation.

    “I truly enjoy working with people, both in terms of individual patient interaction and as a member of a medical team,” he said.

    After receiving a business degree from Vanderbilt University in 1976, O’Neill got a master’s degree in finance from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. At Apple, he managed customer support, order management, warehousing, logistics and transportation operations in Ireland, the Netherlands, Tokyo, Singapore, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Sacramento and Austin. He also opened the company’s U.S. Customer Support Center in Austin.

    In addition to being a vice president at Apple Computer, he was chief operating officer at HumanCode where his customers included Disney, Mattel, Dell and Motorola, and was director of the American Cancer Society’s Quitline.

    “I have been fortunate,” O’Neill said. “I have been vice president of a Fortune 500 company, worked for a non-profit and for a couple of local venture capital-funded startups. But, as I reflect on my past experiences, the pursuits that have been the most meaningful for me personally are those which put me in direct contact with people.”

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