Jim Nelon ’71

It’s a Jungle Out There

By Donna Parker

Jim Nelon ’71 may live in the buttoned-up corporate world as a Massachusetts-based management consultant, but his heart roams free in the Asian jungles and rain forests far away from the straight-laced New England lifestyle.

It’s really not that far of a stretch, though, when you consider that he and his wife, Winnie ’73, lived and worked in Hong Kong and Thailand for many years as software executives and that Jim’s first published book, Pursuing a Dream…A Wandering Executive’s Journey into Indonesia, was published last year. The next book on The Philippines is scheduled to be published by the end of the year.

“You know, the world is wide open. There are no limits,” comments this adventurous soul.  “I lived on concrete floors in the jungles and rain forests, shooting photos by day and journaling by night.  This was supposed to be a picture book, but the publisher liked my writing better!”

“It was a terrific experience to get away and live like that.  This last time, I was living in thatched mountain huts with the locals in very small villages.  I hired interpreters, who sometimes had to do double translations to find the local dialect, so that we could communicate.”

What was the takeaway on these adventures?

“I learned to slow down and accept things better.  It occurred to me that people over there live a slower-paced lifestyle…and they live longer than we do.  They don’t have worldly goods or electricity and technology to lure them away from their family.  They seem to be able to live life to its fullest.”

Jim says he is often asked what he thinks of the “savages” over there.

“I always answer, they’re not savages.  They may not have a Ph.D., but they know as much or more than we do about how to live and do what they’re doing.”

His most exciting stay has been with the Iban tribe in Borneo.  They are head hunters…literally.

“I stayed with them for a week and never once felt threatened.  They did go on a rampage after I left and killed thousands who tried to steal their land, but I certainly was not a threat to them.”

“Lifelong learning and seeing a different side of life has been the key to success for me, and that is something I was actually taught at Trinity.  We were taught how to learn.  Professors such as George Thompson, department of business administration, whom I absolutely revered, had an extraordinary impact on my life. He had a world business view that pervaded all of academia, which allowed us to tie theory back into practical application. In addition, Raymond Judd, former University chaplain, was an anchoring influence for me in college.  He was such an effective advisor – just offering advice, but not dictating what should come next.”

Jim serves as the Trinity Alumni Admissions Network (TAAN) chair in New England where he helps recruit future Trinitonians.  When he’s not dreaming of Indonesian adventures, he also helps set up tamer events, such as wine tastings, Red Sox games, and visits to Sturbridge Village. 

He says that, after many years of managing software departments for major corporations such as GE and Oracle where he worked around the clock to keep up with world markets, he’s ready to cut the company cord and “live and let live” in Thailand, where he and Winnie plan to retire in the next few years. 

“That’s what I want to be doing, dream about doing, and prior to this point in time, never had the courage to do.”

Jim has written six travel books and will be signing his latest edition during the Alumni, Faculty, and Staff Book Display and Signing event on Oct. 20 during Alumni Weekend.

You may contact him at: