Nate Cunningham ’02 Brings Marketing Savvy to National Alumni Association Board

Thu, 09/26/2013 - 10:00am

New National Alumni Association Board member Nate Cunningham ’02 fell in love with Spring Hill College the moment he stepped on campus. “It was the whole atmosphere, the palm trees, being near the coast, and the ambiance of this place,” says Cunningham. “Now that I live in Atlanta, and have been away for some time, SHC wows me when I come back. The buildings look great. The campus looks awesome.”

After graduating from Spring Hill and receiving his MBA from Georgia State University, Cunningham spent several years working for Aaron Rents, Inc., before being hired by The Home Depot. Cunningham has been a part of THD corporate office for eight years and is currently a senior manager in the Home Services (“Do It For Me”) division. He leads a team responsible for driving technology innovation, delivering communications, and developing strategies and processes to support the Home Services business. Cunningham’s experience with THD also includes managing teams in customer care and store operations.

As a National Alumni Association Board member, Cunningham hopes to leverage his marketing skills to promote and be a driver for the college. “I’m passionate about seeing Spring Hill succeed. It warms my heart when people mention good things about this school, and I’d like to build on that. I want everyone to be quick to say, ‘I love this place. It’s been the best experience of my life.’”

Cunningham declared business as his major upon enrolling at Spring Hill and never looked back. “It was a natural fit for me. SHC has a great business program. ‘Personal selling’ was one of my favorite courses, because my professor always put lessons into a real world context. During that semester, I was actually hired for a direct sales position, so it was incredibly helpful to be learning and doing at the same time.”

And although he focused primarily on marketing and management classes, Cunningham says his liberal arts classes provided an excellent foundation for problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking. “Dr. Sauer, in particular, had a great way of presenting literature that made it interesting. He had a way of making you want to impress him. The discussions were always good,” Cunningham says. “Even my SHC photography class has served me well. I use those skills now – framing and marketing products for The Home Depot.”

Cunningham attended high school at St. Bernard Prep, a Catholic school in Cullman, Ala., so it was a natural fit to look at Spring Hill. “I wasn’t convinced this was my top choice until my dad and I took a road trip to Mobile and I stayed the night on campus. The admissions team and the students I met were great. It was obvious they shared close bonds and were enthusiastic about Spring Hill, their professors, and friends. I really liked the small school feel versus a big university. It really hit home then that Spring Hill was where I needed to be.”

As an alumnus, Cunningham says his most important takeaways from his time at Spring Hill include the importance of time management, the ability to set priorities and build lasting relationships. “The people you meet at Spring Hill turn into your network. They will be with you, and you with them, for a long time – treat them well and enjoy those connections.”

When asked about his advice to new students at Spring Hill, Cunningham offers several suggestions. “College is a great part of life – a middle ground between adolescence and adulthood,” says Cunningham. “It’s crucial to build the skills you need. Focus on learning and learning well. In business, to be successful, the learning process never really stops. Many roles I've moved into were brand new when I took them over, and I’ve discovered that best leaders are quick to gain understanding, assess ways to improve, and develop new skills.”

As a new board member, Cunningham is excited about the opportunity to give back to the college. “I am excited to have a chance to be a part of Spring Hill many years after graduating. I want SHC to continue to grow and do great things for students and alumni.”

His fondest memories at Spring Hill include TKE fraternity events, formals, road trips, playing tennis, going to crawfish boils, and spending time at the beach. The SHC campus also holds special significance for Cunningham and his family. “I met my wife during our freshman year English class. I got engaged here. We were married in St. Joseph Chapel.”

Cunningham lives in Marietta, Ga., with his spouse, Kellye, and their three girls, Paige (3), and twins Avery and Ella (21 months). In his spare time, Nate enjoys managing rental properties in the Atlanta area as a co-owner of ACE Holdings Group, LLC.  He is also on the board of the Empty Stocking Fund/Santa’s Village – a nonprofit organization that provides toys and donations to underprivileged families in the Atlanta area.