Founders, Bristol Technology
Kevin (L) and Ken (R) Blackwell
Growing up in the small town of Monticello, Miss., Ken and Kevin Blackwell can't remember a time not knowing about Millsaps College. The twin brothers attended Millsaps from 1982-86. Both have gone on to successful careers in the software and technology sector.
When researching colleges, Millsaps' small class sizes and high academic standards appealed to Ken and Kevin. "I visited campus and realized that Dr. Christmas (then vice president of Admissions) and the other counselors were speaking an entirely different language than counselors at other institutions I had visited," said Kevin. "They painted a future beyond vocation, toward achievement and excellence."
Ken and Kevin enrolled in Millsaps' "3-2"engineering program which allows students to spend three years at Millsaps and then two at Vanderbilt while receiving bachelor degrees from both colleges.
The brothers each earned B.S. degrees in computer science from Millsaps and B.E. degrees in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt. Ken went on to earn a master's degree in computer architecture from National Technological University in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Kevin later attended the Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania for an M.B.A in finance.
"The math and physics departments did a great job of preparing me for engineering at Vanderbilt and later for my graduate program at NTU," said Ken. "It was a huge advantage compared to my peers."
After Vanderbilt, Ken took a job at NCR and later at IBM. Experience at these large corporations led him to focus on starting a business of his own. Ken, along with older brother Keith, founded software company Bristol Technology in 1991. By 1996, Bristol was on the Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies in the country.
Recently, in February 2007, in an affirmation of Bristol's success and reliable software solutions, Hewlett Packard announced that it had signed an agreement to acquire Bristol to further enhance HP Software's leadership in Business Technology Optimization. "The combination of HP and Bristol Technology will allow us to provide our customers with access to the industry's broadest portfolio of enterprise IT management software," said Ken, who serves as chief technical officer for Bristol. "We already had a strong partnership with HP, so joining with HP makes a lot of sense for our company, customers and partners."
Kevin's first career was at General Motors, where he designed and patented an anti-lock brake system that received international acclaim. "That might have lead to a continued technical career, but I had the itch to broaden my career on as many fronts as possible," Kevin explained. He later joined his brothers at Bristol Technology where he worked for 10 years. Today, Kevin serves as vice president of sales and marketing for Nerac, Inc., a company that provides intellectual property and scientific and technical research consulting services to companies worldwide.
Throughout their successful careers, the brothers agree that the communications skills they learned from Millsaps continue to serve them well. "It has made the biggest impact by far," said Ken. "It has made a difference in marketing, customer relations, human resource conflicts, investor relations, contract negotiations, litigations and much more. It is a huge (and rare) advantage when technical people have the ability to explain highly technical concepts to non-technical people."
For students considering Millsaps, Ken offers this advice: "Millsaps focuses on a well-rounded grounding in all aspects of education. The depth that you get in your major classes is certainly important, but you will be competing with others for the rest of your life who have a similar depth of knowledge. The Millsaps differentiator will be the complementary skills that you will build in communications, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills that are best developed in a community of similarly focused peers. You'll find that type of an environment to be rare at most other institutions."
Kevin says Millsaps helps you pursue your dreams. "We all dream about our future, especially young people preparing for college. Some of those dreams are ambitious and adventurous, others are practical, and some are down-right vocational. Millsaps aspires to the ambitious and adventurous side of your dreams, and those are the aspirations that I think students should focus on when exploring Millsaps."