Alumni Spotlight: Tim Carroll

by Ted Kincaid  |   

I AM UAA: Tim CarrollB.A. History '07
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia and Eagle River, Alaska
Fun Fact: Met his wife in kindergarten

Tim Carroll is a man of experience. Retired from the Air Force, Tim served 28 years in aircraft maintenance, lived in nine different places, including seven states and two countries, earned a degree in history from UAA and is now CEO of Saltwater Inc., a company that helps sustain fish and marine mammal populations in Alaska.

But how did Tim go from retired vet to CEO? "I've never given myself any boundaries. I just don't see them," he explains.

Tim is the first to admit his journey to CEO of an Alaska company wasn't exactly orthodox. Raised in Virginia, he joined the Air Force, married his wife and had a family. It sounds traditional, but over the next several years Tim and his family would travel all over the world living in North Carolina, California, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota and his home state as well as England and Germany until finally settling in Alaska.

Nearing retirement, Tim knew he had some important decisions to make.  "I was ready to get an education and UAA was right at my doorstep."

Tim's passion for history steered his intent to become a teacher, but was later derailed. "I never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. Teaching was never a deliberate plan, just something I was interested in," he says.

Earning his degree, this history buff credits UAA for the "transferable" skills he gained, like research, that helped him professionally. Before interviewing with Saltwater, he heavily researched the global and local fish market using tools and methods he learned at UAA.

Even Professor Steven Haycox's Alaska history class gave Tim an extra edge as a CEO candidate. "At Saltwater, we're about sustaining the oceans and the creatures that live in them. His class taught me about the people whose livelihood depends on that resource. It gave me that Alaska point of view."

Tim says Saltwater does its share of work with biologists, commercial fishermen, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service, and they've even collaborated with UAA in more recent years. "We recruit from colleges all over the country, but we want to encourage more people to stay in the state to work. We want the community to know we are an Alaska company."

Tim personally enjoys staying connected to his alma mater. "I see UAA as my university. It's my school. It's so diverse and inviting. I want to give back," he says. Tim is currently serving on the CAS Advisory Board and his oldest daughter is in her second year at UAA.

He may seem confident and an active alum now, but Tim confesses he was originally intimidated by college. "I didn't want to be the old guy in the room. But once I was at UAA, I saw a bunch of people like me. UAA is diverse, but it was easy to find comfort and a crowd who were just like me."

He says his career didn't turn out the way he'd expected, but it's better than he imagined. "I wouldn't have thought I'd ever work in fisheries management. It was definitely out of the box for me, but it's the most comfortable box I've ever been in!"

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