Distinguished Alumnus: Gerald Evans

HanesBrands CEO credits UofSC for giving him firm business foundation

Gerald Evans, ‘81 business, ’83 MBA, credits his business education and connections made while at the USC business school with helping launch his 35-year career with HanesBrands.

“I went right through from my undergraduate business degree to my MBA,” says Evans, who was named chief executive officer of Hanes in 2016. “I was fortunate enough to work for Bill Bearden, who is one of the marketing professors. Bill really cared about his students and I was his graduate assistant.

“As I got ready to go out in the work world, it was Bill who got my resume in the hands of someone in Winston-Salem (N.C.) that ultimately got me the interview that became my start in this company that I am running today.”

The Florence, South Carolina, native says his decision to attend Carolina stemmed partly from being a lifelong Gamecocks football fan and partly from his older sister’s decision to attend USC.

“Once I had honed my interest to business, there was really only one business school in South Carolina at the time,” he says.

Evans says he remembers fondly his time at Carolina, living in the Maxcy residence hall just off the Horseshoe.

“President (James) Holderman had just started the same time I started,” Evans says. “Every day, I’d walk through the Horseshoe to my 8 o’clock class and he would always pass and speak to us students all the time.”

The size of the university was a bit daunting for someone from a small town like Florence, but Evans says the business school staff and faculty really took an interest in students.

“Ada Thomas was there. She knew every student and worried about every student,” Evans says. “I think what was really special about that business school was how welcoming it was, how much they cared about their students.”

Evans joined Hanes in 1983 as a member of the L’eggs marketing organization and served in several executive positions after Hanes was spun off as a separate company in 2006. He served as co-operating officer, president international, from 2010 to 2011 then was co-chief operating officer for two years before being named chief operating officer in 2013.

Evans says receiving the 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award, which honors a graduate whose professional and personal life has exemplified dedication and excellence in leadership, citizenship and voluntarism, was an honor he never imagine he would receive as a student.

“If you think back to 40 years ago when I entered that school as just this naïve kid — and now to go along and be selected as one of the distinguished alumnus to come out of that university all these years later, that’s a pretty big honor,” he says.

Evans has returned to campus recently, teaching a class in the professional MBA program.

“That was fantastic,” he says.

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