Our Stories

Taking the Opportunity for ‘Happy Coincidences’

In MBA program, Sarah Eaton finds life-changing opportunities

Sarah Eaton
Value Manager, Workday

Vanderbilt MBA 2018

Sarah Eaton had been everything from an ice cream shop manager to a middle school math teacher. She was contemplating two different career avenues: remain in education, on track to become a school principal, or buy and manage a coffee shop where she had been working part-time.

At her aunt’s suggestion, she looked into business schools — and was accepted by Vanderbilt. One day, while she was mulling whether to come, she was surprised to receive an email from a professor, Ranga Ramanujam, asking if she’d like to chat about her decision. During the subsequent phone conversation, Sarah says, “I remember him saying, ‘You will be sure to have happy coincidences at Owen.’

“That’s when I decided it was going to be a life-changing opportunity.”

Sure enough, Sarah believes that her experience in the MBA program was filled with life-changing opportunities. Her peers chose her to be president of the Owen Student Government Association — a role, she says, that “allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible.” She had opportunities to travel on projects to Israel, Jordan, Switzerland and Japan. Through the Leadership Development Program, she had opportunities to “truly get to know who I am and what I bring to the table, which helped me figure out how to reflect on what drives me and how to look for that in a career.” And through a corporate strategy class and conversations with Professor Brian McCann, she saw that “strategy is something I would like to do” and moved toward a career as a management consultant.

That new career, which Sarah began in Nashville after graduation, is enabling the person who has done a little bit of everything to work with a variety of companies in different fields. And it’s giving her the skills to pursue one of her remaining goals. “I still hope to get to run a coffee shop one day,” she says.

Fun Fact: Among Sarah’s favorite activities in Nashville are running around the Parthenon and attending the traditional bluegrass picking parties at Percy Warner Park, held on weekend nights when there’s a full moon.

“I decided it was going to be a life-changing opportunity.”