Bobby Vernon

MBA '00

Non-Executive Director and Founder
ProcessMaker Inc.

What do you do professionally?

I recently sold a financial insurance distribution business I founded which was focused on the U.S. and Latin American markets. I am currently fulfilling a non-competition period which will expire mid-2017. I also serve as a non-executive director and am a co-founder of ProcessMaker Inc. an open source bpm software company which has recently relocated to Durham, NC.  Lastly I am an assistant high school football coach in Miami, and I have recently written a book about how to improve both the sport and culture of American football. The title is Tackling Dummies, Playing Amateur Football Smarter.

Tackling Dummies book cover

Tell us more about the book and why you wrote it.

I played college football at Georgetown University where I received my undergraduate degree. The game and the culture of football has changed a great deal since I played and not all of it for the better. Safety is a hot topic right now, particularly concern over head injuries, and rightly so. This book offers both technical as well as common sense solutions in an easy-to-understand and hopefully entertaining way which will make the game safer and more fun for our kids to play.  I felt I could offer a unique perspective having spent enough time away from the game to be objective while at the same time offering an insider's view. Several neurologists who specialize in concussions and brain injuries have praised the book and the solutions offered. I think and hope all coaches, parents, and football fans will enjoy Tackling Dummies

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

The diversity of it all. I pursued my MBA at Duke specifically to acquire the skills (and courage) to start my own businesses. I wanted the freedom to pursue projects and opportunities that interested me, and I consider myself fortunate that it has worked out.

What is the biggest challenge you face?

Staying focused, which means I often have to say no and not get involved with projects and ideas that seem really cool.

What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?

Well, we began the software company in La Paz, Bolivia, of all places, and we still have a sizable programing operation there. Bolivia is a really cool place, particularly if you like mountains and the outdoors. My insurance businesses took me all over South America and Europe, and I spent about three years living in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Sao Paulo, Brazil. My wife is from Buenos Aires, so I'll say that is my favorite…

What is the best professional advice you've received?

Being in the right place at the right time is important, so make sure you are in as many places as possible as much time as you can.

Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?

I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing but if Kirk Herbstreit of College Game Day wanted to switch jobs for a while I think that would be fun…

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to read fiction. I also like outdoor sports like kitesurfing, boating, golf, rugby, and tennis. However, I do spend a lot of time on the football field because of my role as a high school coach. Getting back into football was a way to have some fun and at the same time give back to the community. The school I coach at has a lot of kids who come from tough home situations who often don't have parental role models in their lives. In addition to the on-field coaching, I work with the kids off the field and try to serve as a mentor and role model. For example, two years ago I started sponsoring a summer trip to a football camp at a high academic school for any senior with a B average or better. This past summer we visited the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown. Last year, we did Georgetown and Lehigh University. Some of the kids I've taken have never left the state of Florida before, and some have never flown in an airplane. It's really rewarding to be able to help these kids and be involved with a sport I love. 

What was your favorite course or professor at Fuqua?

Just about every course I took at Duke was great. I really liked Decision Models which at the time was taught by Professor Clemons, and Blair Sheppard who taught strategy also stands out.