Duke - The Fuqua School of Business
 
The network makes a difference.

Veronica Chase, '12

Senior Director of Brand Marketing, Eli Lilly

Indiana

Nationality: American

"I wouldn't have been as successful in the MBA program without the support from my classmates and teammates. Three female classmates and I became lifelines for each other, beyond our assigned teams."

Company Encouragement

Eli Lilly has a very well thought out career management process. Funding is reserved to support educational opportunities for employees, but the slots are limited. After 10 years at Lilly, I had moved up in the organization, and I had the core competencies for my position. But I wanted to improve my skill set further, because though I had operated in high level product and loss roles, I was not trained in finance and I wanted to contribute to the company at an even higher degree. So I went through our HR approval process to seek an education sponsorship to further my fundamental skills. I received approval for sponsorship, and earned a promotion as soon as I started the Global Executive MBA. Though I was already loyal to Lilly, the fact that my company was willing to make this investment in me made me even more committed.

Somebody to Lean On

I wouldn't have been as successful in the MBA program without the support from my classmates and teammates. Three female classmates and I became lifelines for each other, beyond our assigned teams. We really related to each other—nobody can understand what you're going through as a student, an employee and manager, a wife and a mother, except for the people who are going through it with you. We helped each other and depended on each other. It was a really motivating, positive group of women, and they kept me going.

About a week before finals, I had a family emergency. I really needed to get organized and prepare for the finals, but emotionally and mentally I was checked out. I even had to step out of an online discussion session because my head just wasn't there. My lifelines and friends (Asha Lax, Ginna Venturri, Kathy Baughman-McLeod) updated me on the session in a manageable way and ensured that I was fully prepared for the finals. I'm not sure what I would have done without them. The four of us are still in touch and will remain steadfast friends. I intend for the relationships and networks I built in the Global Executive MBA to last well beyond graduation.

An Academic Mom

Initially, I tried to give my job 100 percent, my family 100 percent, and the MBA 100 percent, and I found it just was not sustainable. During Term 1 of the Global Executive MBA, we took accounting. That was a big challenge for me in undergrad, so I was dreading it. I began overinvested myself in preparation—I stayed up every night studying, tapped into every teaching resource and even hired a tutor. There were too many sleepless nights, and ultimately, it was detrimental to my lifestyle. So in Term 2, I came up for air, and realized I was missing too many other things.

To better balance my time and my commitments, I began studying and doing homework at the kitchen table with my kids. My then 13-year-old and 10-year-old were at a pivotal age to learn the life lesson that even successful parents continue learning and developing their career. I wanted them to see what I was doing and to be part of it. It became a special, shared time.

Supportive Leadership Domain

During the MBA program, we studied different domains of leadership, including the Supportive Domain. As a leader, part of performing in that domain includes positioning others for success. While I was in the MBA program, I had an opportunity to apply what I had learned about the Supportive Domain. At Eli  Lilly, my team and I were attempting to get an important tactic approved for the launch of a new product. Our regulatory, legal and medical teams—who give final approvals for what goes to market—were not aligned with our plan. My team experienced more resistance and delays than usual. At that point, I could have taken over and engaged high-level individuals in the organization to receive final signoff. Yes, we may have completed the project sooner, but it would have deflated morale. Instead, I asked my team what they thought was the best course of action based on their previous attempts, and what they thought my role should be. We pinpointed our goal, leveraged the right resources and designed a solution. I dispelled barriers and provided my team with suitable tools. We reached a solution and completed the project. Within the organization, this process resulted in a new sense of cooperation among teams, and I developed a new leadership and management tactic.