2021 MBAs To Watch: Perry Dube, University of Florida (Warrington)

Perry Dube

University of Florida, Warrington College of Business

“Hard worker driven by entrepreneurial mindset and passion for being both a mentor and mentee.”

Hometown: Port Washington, NY

Fun fact about yourself: I have been a die-hard Florida State fan from birth, with most of my childhood vacations consisting of traveling to FSU sporting events. My family even moved to Tallahassee when I was in high school so that I could gain residency before applying to Florida State. While the competitive rivalry with the Gators is still as strong as ever for this Seminole, the opportunity presented by the UF MBA program was so incredible that I knew I had to put my fandom aside for a couple years and get used to seeing a lot more orange and blue than I was previously comfortable. In the end, it couldn’t have been a better decision.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Florida State University, B.S.- Business Administration, Major in Entrepreneurship (2013); Florida State University, B.S. – Communication, Major in Advertising (2013)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Founded and acted as Managing Partner of two restaurant concepts, The Blind Goat Food and Drink Co and The Nest Neighborhood Kitchen, in Tampa, FL.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Associate Brand Manager Intern at General Mills in Minneapolis, MN (remote)

Where will you be working after graduation? Associate Brand Manager at General Mills in Minneapolis, MN

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

* UF MBAA Vice President of Professional Development: Partner with administration to lead a team of 6 club presidents in structuring extracurricular programming for the program that focuses on function specific education beyond the classroom setting.

* Graduate Business Career Services Career and Peer (CAP) Mentor & Team Captain: Mentor a group of 50+ Specialty Business Masters students per semester within the business school on all things to do with the career search process. This includes resumes, interviewing, and general career search planning. As Team Captain, I support a team of 10 CAPs in carrying out mentorship activities throughout the year.

* UF MBA Program Ambassador: Connect with and advise prospective students on the benefits of the UF MBA program and how they can best prepare to take full advantage of the MBA experience.

* Food and Beverage Club President: Create programming and host events related to fast moving consumer goods within the packaged food and beverage industry as well as the service industry.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the students I have worked with in a mentoring capacity, both within the Business Career Services GCAP program and among fellow MBAs. I am continually impressed by the tenacity and enthusiasm with which UF Graduate Business students are willing to approach their job-searching journeys. As a mentor, my one and only goal is to give these students the confidence they need to go into an interview and showcase the many skills and talents they have.

I have found that by encouraging students to tell their story in an authentic manner and to speak openly about their passions, the confidence piece comes naturally with practice. Without fail, my mentees have always been willing to put in the work, which has yielded great placement results for many of students I have worked with. In my three semesters I have had the pleasure of serving as a mentor, it has made me so proud to see these students achieving their dreams and starting careers at incredible companies across the country!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While it may sound a bit counterintuitive, I am extremely proud of both the successes and the failures that I experienced with ventures in my five years as an entrepreneur within the restaurant industry.

The two restaurant concepts that I co-founded could not have been more different, both in terms of the nature of the restaurants and the way our team went about building the businesses. Our first concept, The Blind Goat Food and Drink Co, is a neighborhood bar & grill that we opened without out much knowledge or advanced preparation. Our grand opening came with a shoestring approach that focused on growing and building out the business gradually as our internal funds made it possible to do so. Our second concept, The Nest Neighborhood Kitchen, was a fast-casual breakfast restaurant that we raised external capital for and built out to our exact long-term vision from the day we opened. Contrary to what we could have predicted, it was the Blind Goat that has survived and flourished while The Nest closed its doors within one year of opening. I learned so much from these businesses, despite the contrast between the eventual results. While a failed venture is certainly painful, there is no substitute for the lessons along the way. Seeing the Blind Goat still becoming more and more popular each year obviously continues to bring our founding team a great deal of pride as well, but I can honestly say that I am just as proud of the direction I was able to gain from the failure as I am of the more evident triumphs.

Why did you choose this business school? While there were many things to like about the UF MBA program — including the unmatched ROI, best-in-class Business Career Services, and vast alumni base — the one thing that attracted me to the program more than anything else was the small class size. Despite the fact that UF is one of the larger institutions in the country, the Full-Time MBA program is incredibly small compared to most other business schools. My two-year cohort, for example, is just 35 members strong. The quality of the opportunities that the small class size presents are virtually endless. Not only do UF MBA students benefit tremendously from the personalized classroom setting (which usually sit at no more than 25 students) and ample interactions with professors, but we are fortunate to be able to form an incredibly tight knit group of classmates. I can truly say that I know every single person in my cohort on a personal level and have had a chance to interact one-on-one with nearly every person in our program. These strong connections go such a long way and serve to elevate the UF MBA far beyond what I ever could have imagined when I applied to business school.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Dr. Paul Madsen. Dr. Madsen teaches one of the least glamourous topics in our MBA curriculum: Financial Accounting. I had taken Financial Accounting as a “weed-out” course in undergrad and spent countless hours going over financial statements and meeting with CPAs in my time owning restaurants. As a result, I could not have been less excited for to take another accounting class upon entering the program. I ended up being completely surprised by Dr. Madsen’s class. While the material had not changed, Dr. Madsen did such an amazing job of making it exciting and easily understandable for every experience level. There have certainly been topics that I have enjoyed more, but Dr. Madsen’s ability to make Financial Accounting fun is what makes him my favorite MBA professor.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The fact that our program is so small has made it easy for the members of my cohort to form very close friendships. Prior to COVID hitting, one tradition that we formed was getting together monthly to do a different themed dinner night. Whether it was Indian, Italian, or another cuisine, we would cook everything from scratch (often spending all day to do so) and get together at one of our classmate’s houses to eat together. This was always a wonderful experience and brought us all that much closer together.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I wish that I had not been so averse to finance courses coming into the program. When I entered the UF MBA, I was convinced that I would take as few finance courses as I possibly could. Nearly two years and a majority of electives focused on finance later, I will be receiving my degree with a concentration in finance. I have found the finance classes to be fascinating and objectively valuable in pretty much every way. If I had to go back and do it again, I would have dropped my pre-conceived notions about what these classes would be like and would have taken more finance courses early on.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think the biggest myth about the UF MBA is that it is a school that mostly places students in full-time jobs regionally. As a person who came into the program expecting to find a focus on companies in the Southeast, I quickly learned the truth about this myth. Business Career Services for our program does a great job of exposing our students to top companies across the country and the world. The majority of my classmates (myself included) are going to be moving away from the Southeast upon graduation. I have found that there is no opportunity out of reach for UF MBAs, and the myth about us being a regional MBA program could not be any less true.

What surprised you the most about business school? I think the steep learning curve for networking and interviewing at an MBA level is something that surprises most UF MBAs. Coming into the program, I thought that I was adept at both interviewing and networking. I had no idea how much I still had to learn. Given that UF focuses on recruiting from Day 1 of orientation, it is essential that students come in ready to work just as hard on the job search as they will on any other element of the program. I can honestly say that I have learned just as much about networking and interviewing as I have about any academic topic, and I think that is essential to the success of the UF MBA.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I first became interested in the UF MBA upon attending an info session at a local Top Golf in Tampa, FL. At this info session, I made a connection with the Director of Admissions and was able to have a genuine and interesting conversation about my experiences as an entrepreneur and how I would fit into the program. As I went through the process, I made sure to stay in touch with the connection I had made. When it came time to interview for admission, this connection was the first person I sat down with. This made the interview process less stressful and the familiarity definitely provided an advantage in the application process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my classmate John Scurto. John is an incredibly hard worker and is constantly seeking feedback on how he can improve and set himself up for success. Despite being one of the younger candidates in the program, John has already achieved so much, serving on non-profit boards, acting as a patient ambassador for important pharmaceutical breakthroughs, and founding clubs within our program that have greatly expanded our diversity and inclusion awareness. John has a mission to change the way that workplaces and products think about accessibility and fearlessly shares his experience living with a disability to help others to understand the cause. There is no doubt in my mind that John is going to be a game changer for an organization going forward, and I can’t wait to see the impact that he has.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? Our program administrators have done an incredible job of making the shift to a hybrid environment as seamless as possible. While pure-online classes certainly pose their challenges, UF did a great job keeping us engaged even when the there was no hybrid availability early on in the pandemic. Through programming such as a Virtual Internal Case Competition, we were able to get a feeling for what our virtual internships would be like while still achieving the full MBA experience.

Our small class size was also a major asset in facing this environment. The familiarity between classmates made it so much more comfortable to work virtually and get used to meeting via Zoom and other platforms. Additionally, since we have only about 100 full-time students in the program, we were able to return to an in-person classroom environment this fall in a completely safe and socially distanced manner by limiting class sizes to 15. This chance to get back in the classroom has been invaluable and I am very thankful that our program had the ability to do so.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad has definitely been the biggest influence on my decision to pursue business in college. Even though he has a background as an engineer, he consistently reinforced the importance of the intangibles in becoming a leader both within and outside the workplace. His belief was that business school was a great way to become well versed in these intangibles, especially given the like-minded individuals that I would gain exposure to. Even after we went through the failure of a business together as a family, my dad always still encouraged me to keep pushing to become a better leader and was a driving force behind me pursuing my MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would love to lead the investment strategy for an organization in terms of which assets, products, and brands to add to a portfolio to set the firm up for long term growth. Identifying opportunities to build businesses via investment or acquisition is something that I have always been intrigued by and I believe would fit well with my entrepreneurial mindset.

I also have a goal of starting a mentorship program that would allow organizations to better identify talent from non-traditional backgrounds. While I believe that the MBA pool certainly provides a wealth of talent to the top organizations, I also think that there are a countless number of individuals who have what it takes to succeed at the highest level of business, but have not been given the opportunity to gain exposure to these organizations. Since everyone does not have the chance to pursue an MBA, I think providing a link  between those individuals who have the exposure and those who do not, while also offering guidance in the professional landscape, could make a major difference in the way that we choose our future business leaders.

What made Perry such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Perry Dube is a second year MBA student and Vice President of Professional Development for the UF MBA Association (MBAA), a student governing organization. After being appointed the role, he quickly assumed responsibility to oversee six clubs as they began developing strategies around programming and leadership opportunities for students. Perry has worked diligently to make sure these clubs are running smoothly and regularly communicating with one another. He is often called upon when there is an issue that needs to be resolved. Perry works seamlessly between these clubs and the UF MBA programs office to not only keep everyone informed but also identify opportunities for collaboration and avoid duplicative efforts. He consistently ensures other viewpoints are heard and his efforts have enriched the MBA experience for our students.

Perry is an advocate for case competitions, encouraging his classmates to participate by highlighting their benefits. His passion was evident during our annual Internal Case Competition. Perry’s team was awarded the Dream Big Award by our corporate sponsor for the most ambitious and creative idea. His team also secured third place in the competition overall out of sixteen teams. With many external case competitions cancelling due to COVID-19, Perry worked with the newly formed Case Competition Club to identify a new opportunity that would provide a valuable learning experience for our students around business analytics. Within a matter of a few weeks, Perry identified this new external case competition, pitched the idea to the programs office and recruited a team of five. We are proud to have them represent our program during the competition next month and this would not have been possible without these efforts. Perry is also an advocate for his classmates by serving as a Team Captain for the Career Mentor Program within the UF Graduate Business Career Services. His team assists job seeking students with resumes, mock interviews and general career search strategy.

Perry interned at General Mills last summer and will join them as an Associate Brand Manager in Minneapolis, MN upon graduation.”

Meghan Blake
Assistant Director, Training and Professional Development


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