Caroline Chamblee Lewis
Graduation: MBA 2013
Organization/Current title: Windrose Management, Principal and Co-founder
Q: Why did you choose the NC State Jenkins MBA program for your graduate education?
A: I chose the NC State MBA Program for its focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. My brother also attended the MBA program at NC State, so I was able to see first hand the experiences and projects he was working on.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your time in the Jenkins MBA Program?
A: I really liked the project-based approach, to learn by doing rather than just writing papers. In those projects, I learned so much from the other students, our professors, and the partnering companies. That real-life experience prepared me really well for life after graduation by providing the “soft skills” in addition to the textbook education.
Q: What do you miss most now that you have graduated?
A: I miss the classes and all the opportunities to learn! I wish I could go back and take more classes, especially in fields not directly related to my immediate career, just to expand my knowledge base.
Q: What are a few of the most impactful classes/lessons you learned during your time at NC State?
A: The Consumer Behavior class and consortium were so eye opening for me. The psychology of decision making has changed the way that I approach marketing and also relationships. Management of Technology and the Product Innovation Lab also helped me develop my approach to product management, and I use those lessons in every project I work on.
Q: What advice do you have for prospective Jenkins MBA students?
A: Do it!
Q: Could you give a brief explanation of your current line of work, and what has led you to it?
A: I co-own a marketing operations consulting company called Windrose Management. We work with companies, ranging from mid-sized to Global 500 organizations, specializing in digital asset management, marketing technology implementation, and process improvement. In short, we like to build the systems to help creative and operations teams work more efficiently.
After working in corporate marketing for almost 10 years in Pharma/CRO organizations, I wanted to take on a new challenge by taking the skills that I learned at work and in the MBA program and applying them to a wider variety of clients and industries. So, at the beginning of last year, a friend/colleague and I took the jump, quit our jobs, and started working on our own to form this business.
I really credit the real-life experience and the cross-discipline education I received in the NC State MBA program to prepare me for this shift from corporate marketing to entrepreneurship.
Q: What do you believe is your most interesting accomplishment since graduation?
A: Taking a gamble and walking away from a successful career to start a new company in January 2020. COVID brought us tons of unexpected challenges as we got started, and we had to be incredibly intentional about our business model—developing partnerships, defining our value and offerings, and building our identity. It was tempting to take any work that came our way, but we knew we needed to think about our long-term strategy.
One positive aspect of the timing was that as companies around the world were working remotely, it opened up doors to organizations that would have otherwise been hesitant engaging a consultant from another state or country. I’m feeling really proud that we’ve built a global business with some incredibly cool clients!