Mike McCloud (BS/JEM ’90), CEO and President of World Food Championships (WFC), received the UT Accomplished Alumni Award on Friday, September 23 at a reception held at UT’s Tyson Alumni House. Journalism and Electronic Media (JEM) Professor Rob Heller provided his remembrances of McCloud as a student and shared his perspective on McCloud’s career. CCI Dean Mike Wirth presented McCloud with the award.
McCloud is an award winning marketing entrepreneur focused on making food competitions a long-term, fun-filled legacy for the culinary industry. His major accomplishments include: building a full-service ad agency – MMA Creative, publishing a regional business journal, creating and funding new ventures like the World Food Championships and a Food Champ talent management group and serving as active food marketing lead strategist for Coca-Cola, Sam’s Club, Bull Outdoor Products, Tyson, Smithfield and Kraft Foods.
In his message to students, faculty and alumni present at the reception, McCloud shared two of his “Eureka” moments from his time at UT that have been instrumental in his success. One was the ‘humbling’ editing class he took from recently retired JEM Instructor Bonnie Hufford. “She realigned how I assessed my own writing and helped me realize I still had a lot to learn. It was a powerful learning experience” said McCloud. The second ‘moment’ was when he had to take 21 hours during his last term in school to graduate. McCloud shared that “having to produce five papers per week, drive to Knoxville from Cookeville three times a week and write three articles a week, forced me to learn how to focus, organize and plan my time to juggle multiple priorities effectively.”
McCloud indicated that, “Hope is not a strategy; you have to plan to succeed.” He suggested a twist on the old UT campaign using words that included the letters “UT” in them (ex: fUTure). He shared that “evolUTion” is a good theme word for a successful career. He also indicated that UT and CCI’s “repUTation” as great educational centers provided the foundation from which he could evolve, adapt and grow. He found his life’s calling, “Food Sport,” 15 years into his career by evolving and adapting as challenges and opportunities occurred.
“Having Mike McCloud return to campus to share his story with our students, faculty and staff was inspirational,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “We congratulate him on his career achievements and look forward to continuing to follow his career success.”