Profiles: Jeff Jones

Jeff Jones

Jeff Jones

MBA Finance 84

Director, Global Strategic Alliances at IBM


Jeff Jones has been in love with airplanes for as long as he can remember. From plastic models he built as a child to the radio-control aircraft he flew as a teen, to the F-4 Phantoms he flew as a Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) during his Air Force career, to restoring the 1946 plane his grandparents owned.

Jones's passion for airplanes led him to an early career in the US Air Force. He flew as an F-4 Phantom WSO, first training at Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento. He arrived at the California base in 1977 fresh from the University of Alabama, where he'd earned both a bachelor's degree in business and an ROTC commission as Second Lieutenant.

With a young family, Jeff began to consider going back to school for an MBA.

"As I looked at transitioning out of the military, I realized that I would need to update my education credentials. I was eight years out of college by then, with only military experience. To create the kind of transition into the business world that I wanted for myself would require some advanced education. I figured, if nothing else, it would show initiative and motivation and that I was a self-starter, all those things employers want."

He discovered Golden Gate University's program on the base, with classes meeting in the evenings and on weekends. At the time, Golden Gate University had been a fixture on military bases throughout the United States since 1967. In that 1984 graduating class, Jeff was the top finance student of nearly 250!

At 60, Jeff has been with IBM for more than 30 years, in the leading part of the corporation's largest and most valuable division. As for the future, he envisions traveling more with his wife Patti, a camera safari in Africa and cruising around the Mediterranean. Of course, he plans to continue flying. "I got my pilot's license during my senior year of college in 1977 and I've been flying ever since." He owns two air planes, one a 1946 plane that once belonged to his maternal grandparents and which he's completely restored. Most of his recreational flying, however, is in his contemporary plane, which has room enough for him and Patti, a couple of passengers and, naturally, his golf clubs.