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Some Work, Some Play

More Athlete/MBA Combos

A sampling of other Purdue student-athletes who also earned Krannert master’s degrees:

Lori (Arnold) Vanderstelt — A soccer player at Purdue and 3 + 2 student, she is a Consumer & Market Knowledge (CMK) associate manager at Procter & Gamble; her husband, Trent, also earned an MBA from the Krannert School. Vanderstelt says soccer forced her to take breaks from studying and that she may have burned out without doing both.

Adam Abele — A standout tennis player in the mid-1980s (Big Ten champion in No. 1 singles and two-time Academic All-American first team selection) who was inducted into Purdue’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000, Abele has held several different positions at Procter & Gamble. He is currently director, finance and accounting, global product supply and human resources. He says he still plays tennis, although not as much as he would like.

David Meyer — He played football at Purdue in the 1990s and returned for his MBA in 2005. Meyer is a material program manager with Raytheon for the $11 billion Warfighter FOCUS contract effort.

Mark Secrest –– Another football player at Purdue in the 1990s, he earned his MBA in 2003. Secrest is the customer excellence leader for Honeywell Defense and Space’s Surface Systems business unit, where he is responsible for process improvement initiatives that simplify customer interactions. He also helps his Purdue alumna spouse, Amy, with her Web site,, which features handmade jewelry creations.

Amy Walgenbach — A tennis player at Purdue and 3 + 2 student, she does public and analyst relations campaigns for Edelman, the only independent global public relations firm. Walgenbach lives in San Francisco and has become an active volunteer, tutoring troubled, homeless youth in the area.


Krannert Undergrads continue Professional Success

Success on the field and in the classroom hasn’t been confined to master’s students. Here are three Krannert undergraduate alums who are currently enjoying the fruits of successful professional careers:

Brian Cardinal (BSM ’00) — A forward with the Memphis Grizzlies, he is playing his seventh season in the National Basketball Association. The hard-working Cardinal, a fan favorite at Purdue, is signed to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract through 2010.

Drew Brees (BSIM ’01) — Quarterback for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, he signed a six-year, $60 million contract prior to the 2006 season. Coming off a devastating shoulder injury in his last game with the San Diego Chargers, Brees led the Saints to the NFC Championship game and finished second in the league’s Most Valuable Player balloting.

Nick Hardwick (BSM ’03) — A former walk-on at Purdue, he recently finished his third season as center for the San Diego Chargers. Hardwick was voted to play in his first Pro Bowl and signed a multi-million dollar contract through the year 2011.

drew brees



Some Work, Some Play
Sports as a metaphor for business may seem clichéd, but only because the comparison is so accurate. As several Krannert master's students have proven, success in both B-school and in intercollegiate athletics requires dedication, hard work, and competitiveness.



Beth Jones
Beth Jones


See excerpts from Beth Jones' interview at Mackey Arena (Requires Flash)

- Mackey Memories

- What's more intimidating?

- International Experience ...

- Where will you be in 10 years?



As a member of the Purdue women’s basketball team, Beth Jones used her intelligence to exploit her strengths and defend her weak-nesses. That same mix of brains and competitive spirit led her to the Krannert School’s MBA program.

“It’s a great match for me,” says Jones, who played at Purdue from 2001 to 2004 and ranks among the top five in team history in three-point field goals made and three-point field goal percentage. “Not only does the competition in the business world match up with athletics, but both are also about building teams and relation-ships with people. It was the right path for me to take.”

Jones, who will graduate in May, is among a handful of student-athletes at Purdue who have earned master’s degrees in management. Some have done both simultaneously; others, like Jones, have earned their master’s degrees following their playing careers.

Jones was unsure of her next move after earning her bachelor’s degree in political science. She played professionally in Romania — “two gypsy towns north of Bucharest” — when then-Purdue coach Kristy Curry asked her if she was interested in a graduate assistant’s position with the team.“

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into coaching, so I did some investigat-ing into other possibilities. I knew Purdue had a top-notch management program, and the more I looked into it, the more it made sense,” says Jones, who now works as a graduate assistant for new coach Sharon Versyp in addition to her Krannert studies.

Although she was used to prioritizing her time as an undergraduate and was an Academic All-District selection her senior season, Jones admits the first module in the MBA program was a shocker. “I think I just got used to the pain and suffering,” she jokes, adding that “being an athlete taught me to do what you have to do at the moment. I made it through, and it made me a stronger person.”

Jones interned after her first year with Kimberly-Clark Latin America in Costa Rica, working in the areas of strategy and marketing. Once again, she found herself in a tough situation as a 24-year-old American student working with 20-year industry veterans. Her Spanish minor helped her converse with her new workmates, and she went back to her training in athletics.“

I was able to find out what we all had in common and build relationships from there,” she says. “Just like with an athletic team, half the battle is getting along. Once you bond as a team, you compete against the opposition just like you do in basketball.”

Jones traveled to China with other Krannert MBA students in May 2006 to learn about Asian business culture. She continues to play pick-up basketball and says the sport always will be a part of her life, but for now, she is focusing on business.“

I like to win,” she says. “I don’t expect that will ever change.”

Getting a kick out of business

Eric Bruun


Eric Bruun punted for Purdue in the late ’80s and early ’90s. His senior year, 1991, he earned All-Big Ten first team honors, averaging 43.2 yards per kick, good for sixth  nationally. He left school with a year’s worth of academic work remaining for a career in the National Football League, signing with the New York Giants and bouncing around the league until 1994.

Eric Bruun
Eric Bruun

When his professional football career came to end, Bruun returned to Purdue to complete a degree in psychology and went to work for Conseco in 1996. Two years later, he returned to West Lafayette once again to earn his master’s degree in management. Like Jones, he was driven to the business world by the competition and teamwork.

“As an athlete, you always have someone trying to take your job, and you know you have a limited time to achieve your goals,” says Bruun, whose wife, Natalie, also earned a master’s degree from the Krannert School. “Just as in football, you learn in business to focus on what you need to do and to perform your role as a part of a team. Every person depends on every other person, and I’m comfortable in that type of setting.”

Since his graduation in 2000, Bruun has been employed by CID Capital, a private equity firm headquartered in Indianapolis. Recently promoted to managing director, he focuses on leveraged buyouts of privately held companies operating in the distribution and manufacturing industries.

Bruun works with three other managing directors to finance, grow, and ultimately sell these companies five to seven years after acquiring them. The buyout process is extremely fast-paced and intense, and each transaction is different, all factors that attracted the former athlete to the private equity industry.

Bruun, who has stayed at his playing weight by doing mini-triathlons and playing with his 7-year-old son, Jackson, says that business takes the place of athletic competition — to a degree.

“You miss the process of working with the guys and the buildup each week to a game,” he says. “And each weekend, you got instant validation on whether or not you succeeded. The scoreboard didn’t lie. “Here, sometimes you may work on a project for months and never have anything to show for it. It’s still a competitive outlet, but it’s not quite the same.”


Double Duty

Swan and Lilley


Some student-athletes have taken advantage of Krannert’s 3 + 2 program, where they can earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in management in five years. For one  participant in the program, luck played a large role.

Dan Swan came to Purdue to play tennis, but was undecided between management

Dan Swan
Dan Swan

and engineering. He took the early requirements for both majors before quickly deciding that management was a better fit. Unfortunately, as his academic career was coming into focus, injuries were wreaking havoc on his tennis plans.

“I grew from 5-foot-3 my freshman year in high school to 6-foot-3 my junior year, and it caused some problems,” Swan says. “I had three surgeries on my right elbow in college, and I had to sit out my third year.”

It was during that year off that Swan decided to pursue an MBA in addition to his bachelor’s degree. Since student-athletes have five years to complete their four seasons of athletic eligibility, Swan played tennis both years he was in the MBA program. He performed impressively on and off the court, earning Academic All-American first team honors each of those years. He and his partner at No. 1 doubles, Scott Mayer, went 21-10 in his last season and the duo ranked as high as No. 20 nationally.

“School work was a great release to tennis, but it brought some challenges as well. I would miss time with my Krannert team members because I was at a match or practice, and I had to make an extra effort to be sure that I was pulling my load with them. I always tried to take on more than my share to make sure we were on equal footing,” he says.

After earning his MBA in 2002, Swan worked for two years with the supply chain strategy group at Campbell Soup Co. He then left for a consulting position with McKinsey & Co. in Chicago, where he works with performance transformation in areas as diverse as manufacturing, high tech, and  grocery stores.
Looking back, Swan says combining tennis and the Krannert MBA was a double-edged sword.

“A lot of the skills that make you a good athlete also can make you a good student, and each helps bring confidence to the other,” he says. “Internally, though, there is sometimes a stigma attached to athletes, and an assumption that they are given special advantages, which wasn’t true. As long as you keep the right attitude and prove to your classmates that you can hold your own, being an athlete was nothing but an asset.”

Tricia Lilley
Tricia Lilley

Another 3 + 2 student, Tricia Lilley, was a four-year starter in softball at Purdue from 2003 to 2006, hitting .327 for her career and earning Academic All-American third team honors her senior season. That senior year of competition was her first year in the master’s program. With the added coursework for an MBA student and a transition to a new softball coach, she admits there were some long days.

“It was pretty tough,” Lilley says. “I would be at practice at 5:45 in the morning and then rush to classes. The first year of the MBA program is difficult and there is a lot of teamwork time involved. I would go from classes and meetings to afternoon practice, then go eat, and get ready for classes the next day. There wasn’t a whole lot of time to sleep.”

Still, Lilley has no regrets. “I would absolutely do it again. This has opened a world of opportunities for me,” says Lilley, who will work as a product manager for Boston Scientific in St. Paul, Minnesota, after graduating in May.

“I think sports gave me a huge edge in the classroom and in interviewing for jobs. Companies like people who are driven to perform, and I was always aggressive in the classroom about raising my hand and participating in discussions. Both athletics and business force you to work in teams and communicate, and I like to do both.”