Dave Rodrian

Dave Rodrian
Class Year: 
2004
Job Title / Company: 
Group Vice President, Internet Products, Charter Communications

Undergraduate Degree: BSE, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University

Why did you choose your program and area of study?

I choose the Master's of Engineering Management program to expand my technical undergraduate education into business strategy and management. While I enjoyed working on mechanical design problems, the area of interest that really drives me is working through how those technical solutions could be leveraged by businesses to further their goals and bring new services and products to customers.

Briefly describe your Duke Experience.

My Duke experience was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that allowed me to connect with a diverse group of individuals that shared a drive for challenging themselves and others. In addition to connecting with my peers, it also provided a unique education experience (both in the classroom and hands on) that allowed me to further develop my skills in applying technology to business - from understanding patent law, to marketing, to financial accounting. The highlight of my Duke experience was undoubtedly getting the opportunity to work with Fuqua School of Business students and General Motors to develop a strategy to bring fuel cell vehicles to market. This endeavor required analyzing all items that would be encountered in the real world (technology, legal, regulation, market demand, finance, etc.).

What impact has the degree had on your career?

The Duke experience and Masters of Engineering Management helped me dramatically change and accelerate my career in business management. Upon graduation, I was able to secure a job in Corporate Strategy with a large telecom provider. In this role I evaluated technology and market trends that would drive business direction 3+ years out. Leveraging the financial education that I gained through Duke, I also lead evaluation of acquisition targets including the successful completion of a $1B+ acquisition.

What advice would you give to prospective applicants - those who are just beginning to explore graduate options at Duke?

For me the Duke experience perfectly aligned with the direction that I wanted to take my professional career. As you begin to explore your next education options, ensure you focus on mapping out where you may want to be in 5, 10 years. And while it’s likely you'll end up in a slightly different place than where you thought, focusing on developing that path will undoubtedly get you to where your ultimately meant to be.

What advice would you give to admitted students who are considering Duke?

Go! Explore every opportunity and strategically focus your time on experiences that align with your passions. The Master's of Engineering Management program allows one the flexibility to determine how they want to tailor the program. If one wants to have more technical course work with some exposure to business, they can. Conversely if one really wants to go deep on business, marketing, strategy while "topping off" their technical education, they can choose this path as well. Lastly, ensure you connect with others throughout the program. My experience highlighted the diverse group of individuals and backgrounds that make Duke special. Experiences with those (both in and out of the classroom) were just as valuable as the coursework.