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Opportunities Sustained: Catching up with BOP alumnus Tim Coleman

Friday, June 29, 2018

When Purdue alumnus Tim Coleman (BSIM ’90) was appointed in May to a three-year term on the Indiana Economic Club’s board of governors, it added to a growing list of honors for the longtime Eli Lilly and Company executive that includes a “Top 40 Under 40” award from the Indianapolis Business Journal and a “Top 50 Under 50” award from Diversity MBA Magazine.


Coleman, who currently serves as vice president of information technology in the global pharmaceutical company’s Medicines Development Unit, also helped Lilly earn a “Best Practices Award in Clinical Research” at the 2008 Bio-IT World Conference and Expo.


Today, Coleman still credits much of his career success to his time as an industrial management and computer science major at Purdue and his experience in the Krannert School’s Dr. Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program (BOP), which marks its 50th anniversary in 2018 culminating with an alumni reunion and post-game event at Purdue Homecoming Weekend.


Coleman’s path could have been different, however. An outstanding student in high school, he was planning to attend to Northwestern University, where he later earned an MBA at the Kellogg School of Management.


“I was about to commit when Dr. Bell called and visited my home in Indianapolis,” Coleman says. “It soon became apparent that my parents were getting excited about what he had to say about the success of BOP graduates and their corporate accomplishments, the value of a Purdue education, the excellent internship and full-time job opportunities for Krannert students, and the program’s supportive community. Dr. Bell was very persuasive. I’m glad that I listened and chose Purdue.”


In fact, listening to Dr. Bell remains one of Coleman’s fondest memories of his stay on the West Lafayette campus. “I would often stop by Doc’s office in the Krannert Building to say a brief hello, and then an hour later I would be still be there listening to stories about his former students or talking about how to deal with the distractions and pressures that college students or corporate professionals commonly face,” he says.


Bell’s passion for helping students find career opportunities was equally memorable, leading Coleman to an internship with Eli Lilly following his freshman year and a full-time position with the company upon graduation.


“BOP provided a supportive community that inspired me to build valuable skills and strive for success at work and every aspect of life,” Coleman says. “It taught us to be professional in appearance and approach, exhibit Boilermaker grit and determination, show initiative, and be trustworthy and reliable in meeting our commitments. Perhaps the most important skill I learned was the power of building strong relationships in the business community, which is the engine of progress.”


Sustaining that progress through philanthropy has become a personal mission for Coleman, who continues to support BOP, Purdue and his community not only by giving financially and sponsoring scholarships, but also giving his time to mentor students and recruit young talent for Lilly. He especially enjoys his work in sponsoring STEM youth development programs.


“Diversity initiatives like BOP will continue to thrive and succeed only if we step forward and share our gifts, grace and example with future generations,” he says. “Creating a level playing field is vitally important.  Everyone needs and deserves the same opportunities we received.”