Paul Kelly ’88 and Hal Horvat ’91MBA will receive their Alumni Achievement Awards on Friday, June 2 on Bryant’s campus at a special banquet. Other award winners include Joan Waters ’83, Heidi (Verrill) Pickett ’91, Nirbhay Kumar ’97, Norell Bassett Zable ’11, ’12MBA, and Quentin “Q” Williams ’05. The Alumni Achievement Awards are part of Reunion and Alumni Weekend, when all alumni will be welcomed back to campus, including those with class years ending in 3 and 8, who will be celebrating Reunions.
Distinguished Alumnus Award: Paul Kelly ’88
“As long as your mind is open, opportunities will arise”
Paul Kelly ’88 knocked one out of the park at Fenway. (Metaphorically speaking, that is.)
One summer day at a Red Sox game, shortly after he graduated from Bryant, a chance encounter shaped the trajectory of his professional career.
Sitting on the third base line, Kelly chatted with the man next to him. After the game, the man said to Kelly, “‘I like you. Do you want to work for me?’ Kelly recalls asking what the man did, and he said, ‘I’m a banker, and I work in asset-based lending. Show up in two weeks.’” Kelly, who had long envisioned a career in banking, took him up on the offer, and the rest is history. “As long as your mind is open, opportunities will arise,” Kelly says.
Kelly, now serving as Regional President and Managing Director of Berkshire Bank, has combined his lifelong interest in business with his skills in relationship-building and leadership to forge a successful and fulfilling career in banking. He says the key to success is to set ambitious goals and work hard to achieve them. “It’s not just about money all the time,” says Kelly. “Money follows good, hard work.”
“Philanthropy has to be part of your life.”
Kelly’s Bryant roots run deep, all the way back to his great-grandfather, an alumnus of what was then known as Bryant & Stratton College in the 1800s. When Kelly arrived on Bryant's campus as a freshman, he was eager to learn as much as he could about business. He quickly discovered, however, that his community of peers would provide an education just as valuable. “The support continues 35 years later,” says Kelly of his Bryant friends. “I have guided a lot of students to Bryant for that reason.”
Kelly participated in Bryant’s ROTC program and spent years in the Army National Guard, ultimately exiting as a Captain in the Military Police. “Between Bryant and the military — it helped me get going,” he says. “It helped me start my career and gave me structure.” Kelly went on to earn his Master of Business Administration from Bentley University’s McCallum Graduate School of Business.
A passion for giving back has guided Kelly’s life beyond the office, and he supports numerous philanthropic causes, including Bryant and the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), a bike-a-thon that raises money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He also serves on numerous nonprofit boards, is involved in related business associations, and has coached recreational sports. “Philanthropy has to be part of your life,” says Kelly. “It’s a religion. If you’re not doing it, then all you’re doing is working for yourself.”
Distinguished Alumnus Award: Hal Horvat ’91MBA
“Surround yourself with good people.”
When Hal Horvat ’91MBA decided to pursue his graduate degree at Bryant, it was a “tumultuous period” for the banking industry. But where some might have seen uncertainty, Horvat saw opportunity.
He was hoping to make a career change after graduating from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in accounting in 1982 and beginning his career in commercial lending. Enrolling in Bryant’s MBA program gave him the chance to begin a new path. “I went to Shawmut Bank and took on a business development role,” he says. “It gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons, and I understood how much I enjoyed that aspect of the business. And it helped me throughout my career beyond that.”
In 2014, Horvat joined Centreville Bank, and in 2019 he took on the role of CEO and leveraged his skills in commercial lending to grow the 195-year-old company’s business. “I helped jump-start the commercial lending business,” he says, enabling the bank to more than double its asset size. Horvat claims the company’s successful expansion is his greatest professional accomplishment. “We’ve gone from seven branches in Rhode Island to looking at our 20th location,” he says.
Looking back, Horvat says attending Bryant was “a great decision.” Now the CEO, President, and Chairman of the Board at Centreville Bank, he credits his graduate education for giving him better insights into different aspects of the banking business — a position he values. “The fact that I’m the CEO allows me to impact every part of the organization,” he says.
“Bryant students have a tendency to be grounded.”
In addition, he says he can still see the impact of a Bryant education today. “Bryant students have a tendency to be grounded,” he says of the alumni he has hired. “They’re focused. They have a practical approach to attacking business.”
His advice to the next generation of professionals: It matters who you work with. “Surround yourself with good people,” he says. Horvat remembers many mentors who have helped him to hone his skills and advance his career, and, when asked if he enjoys acting as a mentor himself, he says, “Yes, I do — to anyone who’ll listen to me.”