Everyone’s Career Path is Different

Our class at graduation

Our Weekend Executive MBA class is a diverse group. We’re from all over the country, work in many different industries and had different reasons for joining the Fuqua community. We also had varying plans for life once we were finished at Fuqua. Some came to the program looking to change careers, like my buddy Chris Wright, who moved from clinical research to consulting. There were others, like Jay Patel, who aspired to work at Apple (he got the job, by the way). There were others of us who didn’t know where The Duke MBA path would lead. Consider David Hailey, who was promoted from corporate audit at Delta to general manager of SkyMiles. And then there’s me.

When I started the program in 2012, I had been with HanesBrands in Winston-Salem, NC, for a number of years and was working as a manager on our $40 million shapewear business (that’s Spanx for those who don’t know). I knew going back to school would broaden my skill set and expand my toolkit, but I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do when finished. Hanes had been very good to me, offering me many challenging opportunities to work on a variety of teams, brands and projects. My main goal was trying to keep all the balls in the air while in school—keep up at work, get good grades and try to keep some clean laundry at home.

Shaking Dean Boulding’s hand during the ceremony

By the time I submitted my last exam in December 2013, I knew I was ready for a new challenge. During the year and a half at Duke, I had been promoted and asked to lead the merchandising team for our department store women’s underwear. While it was fulfilling, I still felt I was missing an opportunity to leverage my knowledge and skills acquired at Fuqua in new ways.

I came to my current role at TouchCare, a healthcare startup in Durham, a bit serendipitously. One of my buddies, a former Navy SEAL, is our Vice President of Operations and had introduced me to the founder and CEO, who is also a Duke alumnus. The next thing I know, I’m on a two-day interview tour, with an offer at the end. The passion and energy of this startup is amazing. We’re going to change the way healthcare is delivered—that’s pretty powerful stuff when you come from corporate America. It was startlingly simple to make the choice to leave Hanes and move to Durham.

My advice to you—current or prospective Fuqua student—is to take your time. Do what feels right for you. Don’t rush yourself to take a new opportunity that doesn’t feel right. If you need help or guidance, the fabulous Career Management Center team is there for you. And sometime, you might find yourself in a serendipitous situation that could lead to your next career transition.

weekend executive mba student

Nancy Zimmerman

Weekend Executive MBA, Class of 2013

I’m a North Carolina girl, born and raised. I grew up in Lexington, where barbecue is king and grits are a food group. My background is in marketing, which has allowed me to develop an understanding of what makes consumers tick. I joined Fuqua to hone my leadership and soft skills and acquire critical quantitative skills.

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