By Arial Starks
After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a business degree in 2009, Dusty Jackson was hired on as a consultant for Capgemini. During her 10.5 years with Capgemini, Jackson made several lateral moves within the company and earned a few promotions. In the midst of several leadership changes at Capgemini, Jackson found herself at a crossroads and knew she wanted more out of her career.
“I knew I needed to do something, but I had been there for such a long time that I felt married to Capgemini because it was the only place I had ever worked,” she explained.
Jackson wasn’t necessarily looking to leave Capgemini, but she knew she wanted to add value to herself as an employee in hopes of moving up in the company. She also knew, being a wife, mother of 3, and a pet parent of 4, that she could not quit her job and return to school full-time, which led her to the Vanderbilt Executive MBA program (EMBA).
“To be honest, once I found the Vanderbilt EMBA program, I didn’t apply anywhere else,” she said. “I knew Vanderbilt was it for several reasons. I live in Clarksville, so Vanderbilt was right there in my backyard, which would allow me to commute. Also, I fell in love with the EMBA program, because I only had to attend classes 2 Saturdays out of the month, which was manageable for someone like me with a family and full-time job.”
Jackson was accepted into the Vanderbilt Executive MBA program and began her journey in August 2018 while still working at Capgemini. Through Vanderbilt’s Global Immersion MBA Track, Jackson learned important technical skills like data analytics and statistics. In year one of the Global Immersion Track, students focus on core curriculum as part of a “C-team” comprised of their peers. In year two, students participate in four international residencies. Jackson says through her second-year residencies in Canada, Brazil, and Mexico, she honed essential soft skills like cross-functional teamwork, presentation, and global communication.
“I learned so much during the residency portion of the program, because I got to travel and have hands-on experiences with other cultures. One of my favorite classes was the culture class I took in Vancouver. I had a little experience with working with other cultures through my role at Capgemini, but I didn’t fully grasp and appreciate global communications until I got to use what I learned in that class in my next role,” said Jackson.
During her second year of the Executive MBA program, Jackson met with a recruiter at Workiva, setting off a chain of events that led her first to Workiva and later to Elastic. She credits Vanderbilt with giving her the confidence she needed to explore opportunities outside of her comfort zone.
“Meeting all my brilliant classmates gave me the opportunity to see what else was out there with their different career paths and backgrounds,” she said. “I can honestly say without the Vanderbilt EMBA program, I would not have been able to even imagine the doors that have been opened and the career trajectory I have been able to redirect for myself.”
Click through the timeline below to see a visual of Dusty Jackson’s path to the promotion as an Elastic Global Alliance Manager.