One thing I learned from spending over 30 years in coaching and public education is that athleticism and intelligence take many forms. I evolved from my inaccurate opinions that traditional athletics and classroom performance were the only illustrations of these characteristics. I don’t have to enjoy watching a sport or activity to appreciate the intelligence or athleticism it requires to excel. Cheerleaders, in short, are athletes, and the lessons learned in that activity – dedication and teamwork – can take you as far as you dare dream. Thomson native Mille Harvey Mangum fully illustrates this.
While attending Thomson High School, Mille, a cheerleader, was named homecoming queen in 1965. She has excelled in the competitive world of business, and some people say she never quit being a cheerleader. This is illustrated by the enthusiasm she exhibits in every task she undertakes. Mille credits her upbringing here in Thomson for teaching her the importance of doing your best.
Mille mentions many people who have played a role in her success. Her parents, Jack and Bernice Harvey, and teachers such as Martha Lewis, Paul Leroy, John Hammond and Boyd Reeves, to name a few, are cited as those who had high expectations for the young people of McDuffie County. Forty-five years after leaving Thomson as a permanent residence, she describes her hometown as the “best place for a child to grow up and as a gentle place filled with good people.”
After graduating from Thomson High in 1966 and chosen by her contemporaries as “most likely to succeed,” Mille took the lessons she learned as a student and athlete here to Emory University, where she graduated in 1970. After teaching gifted children in North Syracuse, N.Y., for a year, Mille entered the corporate world by taking a job with General Electric in Erie, Pa. Before leaving GE in 1985, Mille rose to the position of general manager of systems operations. Later that year, she left GE and moved to Atlanta to become the first president of Bell South International and then became director of corporate planning and development.
From 1992 until 1997, Mille worked for Holiday Inn Worldwide as executive vice president of strategic management and marketing, and was the only woman to serve on its board of directors. For a short period, Mille was president of Global Systems and senior vice president of planning and expense management for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a $14 billion international operation.
Since 1999, Mille has been owner, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of IBT Holdings, based in Atlanta. This corporation concentrates on the design and building of banks and specialty retail businesses. Among its clients are Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Wal-Mart, Starbucks and Moe’s Southwestern Grill. Additionally, she serves on corporate boards of noted companies such as Payless ShoeSource Inc., Haverty Furniture Co., Collective Brands, and the oldest company on the New York Stock Exchange, the Barnes Group.
In her spare time she serves on the board of trustees for Piedmont College and the Emory University School of Business.
Today, Mille and her husband, Bill, live outside of Eatonton on a farm where they have horses and raise registered Angus cattle. She says, with a smile, that shoveling manure on the weekends keeps her humble and reminds her of her roots. Preferring to live her dreams instead of accomplish goals, which she defines as dreams with deadlines, Mille cites her faith and belief that “to whom much has been given, much is expected,” as being among the guiding tenets of her life. She stands as a great example of what this world offers young women today who are willing to strive for excellence. She’s another great Thomson High Bulldog.