Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

John Feeney

Class of 2013

John Feeney

"To stay true to your values, you must first understand them, and then recognize how they are being tested, in small ways, almost constantly. Taking action in the face of fear is not exclusively something that happens in a Hollywood scene, but rather a series of seemingly less dire decisions we make every day."

My Background

I grew up on a family farm in rural Illinois, where we raised corn and soybeans. I attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. Following graduation, I served for 5 years as an officer in the United States Army, deploying 3 times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.

Between Army service and enrolling at Duke, I worked for Andretti Autosport, a professional racecar team. It was a fascinating introduction into the world of business, and the role sparked my professional interest in marketing.

Outside of Fuqua, I am an avid snow skier, runner, and cyclist, a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, and now a race fan of almost every variety.

Why I Chose Fuqua

The collaborative nature of "Team Fuqua" was a real draw given my background leading teams in the military. I sought a graduate environment in which I would not merely be exposed to classmates with diverse and interesting backgrounds, but be expected to learn from them by working with them … extensively. Fuqua has certainly delivered on that promise. However, seeking an MBA isn't just about the classroom or the team room. I have formed fantastic professional relationships, but also deep personal friendships at Fuqua. Three of the members of my first-year learning team have become very close friends. We continue to take classes together and spend plenty of time together socially (some classmates might say inseparably). We even trained together for an Ironman Triathlon that will take place after graduation.

Leadership Attribute: Reflection

Reflection is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when one says, "leader of consequence." Integrity, courage, and many other characteristics seem more apparent. They are observable, and they are critically important. However each, if present, is supported by a deeper self-awareness and understanding that requires reflection. To stay true to your values, you must first understand them, and then recognize how they are being tested, in small ways, almost constantly. Taking action in the face of fear is not exclusively something that happens in a Hollywood scene, but rather a series of seemingly less dire decisions we make every day.

To make a basketball analogy (this is Duke after all) a clutch free-throw is far from a singular event, but the culmination of hours of focused practice. Yet, we often approach the concept of being a leader of consequence as if it is something that just happens. We hope that when we are put on the line, under pressure, that we will sink the shot. I don't believe that is any less true in the boardroom than it is in Cameron Indoor. Being a leader of consequence takes a great deal of thought and constant practice. One of the most important programmatic elements of The Duke MBA is that time is built into the experience to reflect on these tough questions, and then to practice.

Five Random Things about Me

  1. I believe that the definition of pizza includes having a tomato-based sauce, and I love ALL pizza, thin crust, deep dish, veggie lovers, or meat lovers. It doesn't matter. I may enjoy a slice of something that's cooked in an oven, and is topped with pesto, or chicken, or other interesting toppings from time to time. However, I don't love it because it's not pizza.
  2.  I must have watched the made-for-TV miniseries Lonesome Dove starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones a thousand times growing up. I didn't read the book until I was in college. It is now my all-time favorite, even though I knew everything that was about to happen. I guess that's why it won the Pulitzer Prize.
  3. The first time I deployed to Iraq, my wife was starting her senior year of college. By the time I got back she had graduated from college, taken the MCAT, and applied to,  been accepted to, and completed a full semester of medical school. That's a lot to miss. I still owe her big time.
  4. I have seen almost every sports movie ever produced, but despite being a lifelong baseball fan and moving to Durham for an MBA, I still haven't seen Bull Durham.
  5. The second year of business school is the perfect time to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy and name her Darby, especially if you love bars that allow dogs and long trail runs at Eno River State Park… and running home between classes … and carpet cleaner … and if you dislike your furniture, shoes, or rental deposit. Just kidding. Kind of.

What I Love About Durham

What I love about Durham and the greater Research Triangle area is that it has all the activities and amenities of a metropolitan area without the congestion and hassle. Fuqua, downtown restaurants, college sports, professional sports, and renowned music venues, are all minutes from my front door. I can also access expansive state parks, farmers' markets, and country roads for long, traffic-less bike rides.