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Ferrum News

Global Leader in Coal Production Tells Ferrum Students “Work to Your Strengths”

3/30/2012

Global Leader in Coal Production Tells Ferrum Students “Work to Your Strengths”

Alpha Natural Resources Inc. CEO Michael Quillen serves as Ferrum College Executive in Residence.

Ferrum, Va. (March 30, 2012) – Michael Quillen, Chairman of Alpha Natural Resources Inc., visited the Ferrum College campus on March 28 as the Executive in Residence. In addition to interacting with students in class, Quillen gave a keynote address in the Blue Ridge Mountain Room in Franklin Hall.

Quillen handed out some savvy career advice to the students, many of who will be graduating in May.  “I think you should work on your strengths, as opposed to your weaknesses,” he advised.  He then quipped, “I could work on singing 24 hours a day and it’s never going to get any better.”

Quillen, an engineer by training, has spent most of his career in the coal industry.  He guided Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., from a small group of people meeting with lawn chairs and card tables in 2002, to the company that, after acquiring Massey Coal Company two years ago, now employs 14,000 people and owns more than 150 mines.

Alpha Natural Resources is the only Fortune 500 Company in Virginia west of Roanoke.  It is now based in Bristol, Va., where it recently moved into a new $20 million, 130,000 square-foot building.

Quillen touched briefly on the topic of energy during his presentation in order to illustrate the need for coal in a nation that demands inexpensive energy, but sometimes derides the coal industry because of its perceived negative impact on the environment. “There are ideals in life.  The way we want things to be and the way things actually are.  And we have to work together to bring those two together.  It’s a real process,” he said.

The Executive in Residence initiative at Ferrum College brings the real world business experience of current and retired business professionals to campus. Guest executives tour the College, audit classes, interact with students and faculty, and are asked to deliver a lecture sharing their personal experiences and philosophies. Speakers offer insight on the knowledge, skills and leadership qualities necessary for a successful business career.

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