Right at home in the Krannert School
Tom McDuffee is clear about his allegiance.
"Purdue is home," says McDuffee, who earned a bachelor's degree in industrial management and a master's degree in labor/industrial relations from the Krannert School. "I was born on campus during my dad's junior year. My late father-in-law, Ray Wolf, was a professor here for 34 years. Both of my sons have master's degrees and my wife is a Purdue graduate, plus we have 23 degrees in the family from the university."
Now McDuffee has come full circle. After a long and successful career in human resources with RCA, General Electric, and Saint-Gobain Containers, McDuffee is the second Alumni in Residence at the Krannert School. He joins retired Accenture executive Susan Butler (BSIM '65, HDR '00) in the role.
"It's a privilege to partner with Susan, and an honor to give back to the university," says McDuffee, who also is a member of the first advisory board for Krannert's MSHRM, or Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management program. "I talk to students one-on-one about their career options and how they should present themselves in interviews.
"I occasionally sit in classes and share with students my personal experiences that fit the messages being delivered by the professors. I'm also working on the leadership and ethics series for our master's students, to make that an even more meaningful experience for them."
During his days as a corporate recruiter, McDuffee kept an open pipeline between his companies and Purdue. The reason? "When you ask bank robbers why they rob banks, they tell you it's because that's where the money is. We recruited at Purdue because that's where the talent is."
Now he tries to guide that talent to make the best career choices. "I tell students that to secure a position, you need to explain to a company how you can add value to that organization. You need to package yourself, and have a personal business plan in mind of ways you can impart knowledge and develop as a leader within the company," he says.
"At the same time, it's a two-way street. When you compose your resume and go through the interview process with a company, it's your moment—not theirs. You should be proud of the significant investment that you have made to achieve your education. Now you are offering a company your skills and years of your life. You need to find companies that fit your values and that will help you attain your personal goals while you contribute to theirs.
"I also remind students that they will be joining a tradition of more than 50 years of Krannert talent and to represent themselves and the School well."