Setups to startup
From a small town just outside Cleveland, Darcy Orin (BSM ’89) accepted a volleyball scholarship to Purdue and stepped immediately onto the big-time stage of college athletics. In the position of setter, she played on the 1985 Big Ten championship team her freshman year. Though it may have been the furthest thing from her mind then, she would take similar bold steps in establishing her own health care business almost 30 years later.
As the managing partner at Clearview MRI in Portland, Oregon, Orin can now reflect on an athletic, academic and career path that has her leading 28 employees through four centers in the state. Uncertain of what her future might entail, she followed the advice of her father, a small business owner, and opted for the practical possibilities of a management degree.
Playing for Carol Dewey, a coach who built high-caliber teams, Orin learned lessons that proved transferable in her career trajectory. “I think the biggest thing in being a team sport athlete is learning how to deal with people,” says Orin, who once dished out 76 assists to teammates in a match against Duke and set a single-season record of 1,610 assists her junior year. “You have to harness and manage that competitive spirit to achieve the outcomes you want.”
On the academic side, Orin says a small business administration class offered the real-life lessons that piqued her interests in sales. “The management professors were incredibly talented in the ways they could connect with students. That was very powerful for me.”
Orin spent about 15 years working as an MRI specialist in the Portland area for Hitachi and GE. She covered seven states, including Hawaii, and traveled three to four times a week every week. She sold the equipment, but her biggest responsibility was helping to facilitate the startup of diagnostic imaging centers. With her first child’s birth in 2003, she decided that starting a company with a GE colleague would certainly lighten her travel schedule, if not her load.
The entrepreneurial leap, however, she likens to stepping off a cliff. “I knew the technology incredibly well,” Orin says. “But it’s about learning how to run your own business. Many small business owners might not do it if they knew what awaited them in the first year. It certainly was a brave new world. That’s something similar to stepping onto an NCAA court. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it.”
Burning speed to a pharmaceutical lead
A state champion high school hurdler from nearby Lafayette Jefferson High School, Prentice Stovall (BSM ’03, MBA ’09) came to Purdue with absolute speed to burn. It may have been matched only by a burning desire to succeed someday in a corporate setting. A Purdue and Big Ten record holder and now the oncology business unit leader for Eli Lilly Canada, Stovall found great success on both fronts.
The track was not only a place to run fast (where he could cover 60 meters in about 6.7 seconds, or 7.9 with hurdles before him), but also an opportunity to exercise leadership skills. “The combination of the management curriculum and the expectations of a student-athlete definitely shaped how I make decisions and view leadership today,” says Stovall, who was named a two-time team captain, as well as a two-time MVP.
Part of that curriculum included an agriculture econ class that focused on selling and provided an opportunity for him to go on a field ride with a sales professional. Stovall spent the day with a pharmaceutical sales rep. After starting his career as a district manager of ALDI Groceries in Bloomington, he made the jump to pharmaceuticals, spending three and a half years at GlaxoSmithKline.
The decision to attend Purdue for his master’s was fairly easy. “I wanted a school that was heavy in the quantitative area and had a strong foothold in Indiana, as I wanted to raise a family here,” Stovall says. “I had a wonderful experience those two years. The program’s philosophy was very consistent across the undergrad and grad programs.”
Starting with an internship between those two years in graduate school, Stovall has been on a fast track at Eli Lilly ever since. His recent international assignment, however, transferred him from Indianapolis to Toronto, a city he’s found most inviting. “The people are absolutely phenomenal,” he says.
And while his competitive spirit still churns in high gear, even affording him track time in various corporate challenges, the motivations have changed from a team’s pursuit of a Big Ten championship to improvements in the marketplace. “There remains a driving and winning spirit as we build highly productive and efficient teams,” Stovall says. “It’s about hiring the right people and having the right tools in place to make people’s lives better.”