Ben Freckmann

Ben Freckmann
Class Year: 
2016
Job Title / Company: 
Product Portfolio Manager North America, Schneider Electric in Washington, DC

Briefly describe your d-MEMP experience, including the impact on your career.

I was hesitant when choosing to commit to a distance program at first, but my experience with d-MEMP was nothing short of spectacular. The first residency introduced me to the faculty, staff, and cohort face-to-face which really helped set the stage for the team-based work and virtual interaction ahead. The courses, especially the marketing and management courses, opened my eyes to things I had been missing in my technical role and validated my motivation for pursuing the program as a way to improve my ability to bridge the technical/practical gap. I met a lot of people with similar ambitions and work ethic, and learning about their challenges and work life made me realize that career advancement opportunities abound. I leveraged the Duke network and my newly-gained knowledge to land a job with Schneider Electric and haven't looked back since.

How did the program's flexibility suit your needs? How were you able to manage the program with your work/home life?

After securing my new role and relocation, I decided to scale back my course work so I could focus on moving and starting a new job without getting mentally stretched. I was also able to take advantage of a better financial reimbursement program within Schneider Electric, and d-MEMP was completely supportive and worked with me to shift requirements around so that I could complete them in a longer time scale than originally planned. The work/life balance was mostly good and I attribute that to being engaged in the course work and learning with people I genuinely liked interacting with. Saturday conference calls are weird at first but the real inflection point is when you start to look forward to them...

What advice would you give to prospective applicants?

Make an informed decision. Take advantage of alumni outreach and make sure you ask the hard questions of current and former students as well as yourself. I chose the program because I knew I wanted to improve my skill set and get better at making practical sense of technical problems. d-MEMP alumni helped validate that for me and gave me the confidence to pursue the challenge. Graduate school isn't easy, especially when you're balancing full-time work and social life at the same time.