Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

Whitney Dickinson

Class of 2010

I was a psychology major, intent on pursuing a PhD. Then, I took a class on the social psychology of business. I loved it … I took a few more business-oriented classes and really liked the intersection of business, marketing, and psychology.

From Psychology to Marketing

Most of my friends stayed in California for college, but I was interested in experiencing another part of the country. My grandfather encouraged me attend Duke, which is where he went after World War II. He's an ophthalmologist and he's still involved with the Duke Eye Center.

Duke offered the full, classic college experience-great academics, sports, and a beautiful campus. I was a psychology major, intent on pursuing a PhD. Then, I took a class on the social psychology of business. I loved it. It opened my eyes to business. I took a few more business-oriented classes and really liked the intersection of business, marketing, and psychology. I took the Psychology of Consumers, taught at Fuqua by Tanya Chartrand, which I begged to get into. It was amazing. Everything I learned in psychology seemed to be building blocks for business.

I applied for marketing positions, but had no luck because I lacked experience. So I volunteered at Fuqua with Professor Gavan Fitzsimons on a project about how the unconscious affects behavior and consumer choices, which led to a Tivo study about the brain's ability to absorb TV commercials. Gavan first told me about the MMS program, and I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me, especially since I already loved Fuqua.

The Marketing Girl

I was in the inaugural MMS class and we created our own clubs because there was no class before us to establish any. I wanted a marketing club, so I put in an application for it and it took off from there. I became president by default, and I soon became known for my interest in the areaeveryone called me "the marketing girl."

I worked with the president of the MBA Marketing Club on a panel discussion for MMS students. The speakers were all MBA students with some marketing experience. Many MMS students didn't really know what marketing was, so I think they got a lot out of the session. I was glad to help expose them to it, and was excited about promoting marketing to others.

It was really important for me to get involved during the MMS program to make it even better for the next class. As a result, I got more than an educationI got so much more. I helped shape the student experience and that accomplishment is something I'll cherish forever. I'll always feel a strong tie to Fuqua.

Culinary Pursuits

The food industry is important to me because food and wine were a big part of my upbringing. I grew up having big family dinners around great food and wine. My grandfather (the one who went to Duke) started a winery, which my uncle now runs. Food is a big part of our winery and it's one of the only wineries in the state allowed to have wine tastings with food.

Food is something I personally enjoy and I think the food industry is very interesting, involving organic and local movements and government regulations. I believe there will be a lot of changes in America's food production and sourcing in the next few years. I'd like to be involved in all of that. I have strong feelings about where food comes frommany companies sell food that I wouldn't put in my body, but I believe in the company I work for now. They make a concerted effort to serve organic, local foods, and they focus on quality.

I'm really excited about the management position I have at Hillstone because it combines so many of my interests. While I love marketing, the MMS program really opened my eyes to all the different facets of business and I realized I enjoy being able to do a bit of everything. This position is a great opportunity for me to experience all sides of business. Running a restaurant is a big job, including brand management and a lot of people skills.