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A funeral service was held for Joseph Deon McGhee (October 13, 1963 – February 17, 2018) on March 1st in Decatur, Georgia. During his trailblazing career, McGhee, a Jackson State University alumnus, won the 2001 Black Engineer of the Award for Technical Sales and Marketing as Cisco’s Asia Pacific director of operations.

Below are excerpts from his 2001 career story and interview with USBE magazine.

Joseph D. McGhee followed a classic route to success of American executives. His first job was that of operations director, Capitol Operations responsible for driving sales and service revenue for the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area.

Next, he moved to Cisco’s Korean operation, responsible for managing sales, service, marketing, finance, human resources and administration of a 300-person team, in a market that generated nearly $1 billion in annual revenue.

That success did not come from the blue. He had succeeded in European postings at Siemens Telecommunications Network and had risen to vice president and general manager of Siemens’ Network Management Solutions Business Unit in Florida.

‘Success did not come from the blue’

Before that, he spent two years working in Asian-Pacific markets as business development manager for AT&T Paradyne’s Advanced Transmission Technologies Group.

He managed all sales and marketing efforts in the Far East and developed new licensing relationships with potential business partners for the groups’ Digital Subscriber Line high-bandwidth solutions.

McGhee, a 1985 honors graduate of Jackson State University (JSU) in management and marketing, was the first JSU alumni to go to Harvard Business School, completing his M.B.A. in 1991.

‘Winning friends and influence’

He also had completed the University of Michigan Executive Education Center’s program in “Negotiating with the Japanese” and taken numerous courses through the AT&T Executive Development Program.

During his career, he worked as a customer service representative for IBM in New York; a department manager and buyer for Parisian Inc. clothing stores; as a marketing representative for Xerox Corp.; regional account rep for Lotus Development Corp.’s North American Sales Division; and held various marketing jobs for AT&T.

In a 2001 interview with USBE magazine, McGhee said the best book he ever read was How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He also said he would have loved to be a professional baseball player because he “truly loved the game as a kid. ”

On building a better mousetrap, he said:

“I would like to create a vehicle to help close the “Digital Divide…I would create a very inexpensive tool that would be placed in the homes of minorities, the elderly, and financially disadvantaged, and create a digital network that would allow them acess to the Internet. Information is proceless. Everyone should have access to the Internet,” the then Cisco exec said.

Celebrating the life of Joseph D. McGhee

Born to Elder Willie McGhee, Jr. and Bernice (Edwards-McGhee) Crane in Chicago, Illinois, Joe was the youngest of eight children.

Growing up as a member of the All Nations Pentecostal Assembly Church in Chicago, he was active in the choir and Sunday School. He also played drums and the guitar.

Joe attended George Henry Corliss High School and was a member of the Junior and National Honor societies.

As a high school sophomore, he played in a semipro summer baseball league. He was an exceptional catcher and one of the team’s best hitters on the Jackie Robinson West All-Star Team.

During senior year, Joe was Homecoming King and heavily recruited for athletic scholarships. He made the decision to attend Jackson State University on both academic and athletic scholarships.

‘Business school trailblazer’

While attending Jackson State as a business major, he was on the National Honor Society and played in the outfield for college baseball. During his sophomore year, he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers AA Farm Team, however, his family encouraged him to complete his education.

Before Joe graduated cum laude from Jackson State he decided to pursue a corporate career. In spite of two B-school rejections, he became the first Jackson State alumnus to attend and graduate from Harvard Business School.

After Harvard, he held executive positions with telecommunications and tech companies such as AT&T, Siemens, Scientific Atlanta, Avaya, Cisco Systems, Asurion, Tiverity and Alvarez & Marsal.

‘Successful executive and entrepreneur’

He also became an entrepreneur and was chairman and CEO of American Biosurgical Holdings LLC, a specialty medical cable company from 2007-2009. Joe was a Board Member of Crave It Foods, Synch-Solutions, JDE Medical, LLC, and Netstar-1.

He also served as an advisory board member of Kulper & Company and board Chairman of American Biosurgical Holdings, LLC.

His awards include the Black Engineer of the Year Award for Technical Sales and Marketing; and United Nations Citation for Outstanding Public Service.

Joe often attended Black Enterprise Magazine’s Entrepreneur Summit; the annual National Black MBA Association Conference; Atlanta Harvard Business School Alumni meetings; and the Annual Black Harvard Business School Alumni Conference.

Joe is survived by his immediate family and a host of friends and relatives including cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles.

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