October 2019


Brandon Dimitri and Kim Riddle

Brandon Dimitri with Kim Riddle, Global Director of Fabric Care Engineering at Procter & Gamble, during Riddle's stay as Executive-in-Residence. 

Student Profile

Dimitri Learns Lessons as EiR Ambassador

There are numerous positions in University Residences where residents can become involved to earn networking opportunities and help UR programs run smoothly. One such position is the ambassador role in the Executive-in-Residence program.

The team of ambassadors serves an important role in executing EiR events and ensuring each visiting executive has a smooth stay on campus. Ambassadors escort executives to different events on campus and provide assistance at EiR events, which can range from introducing executives to helping facilitate discussions and ensuring everything is running smoothly.

The work often lends itself to extra one-on-one time with visiting executives, one of the highlights of sophomore Brandon Dimitri’s experience as an ambassador.

“If you really want to become involved and meet these people, you have the chance to get that one-on-one time,” says Dimitri. “It’s not like you just go to a big lecture from these people and hear them talk but don’t get to know them.”

One-on-one interactions are one of the hallmarks of EiR, which brings successful Purdue alumni to campus to connect with students outside the classroom. While executives are serving in residence, students engage with them through formal presentations and informal interactions.

Dimitri says his initial interest in EiR came about simply because he was looking for clubs to become involved with as a freshman. After attending a callout and learning more about the program, he decided to become a part of it. He has served as an ambassador since the Spring 2019 semester.

Two major lessons Dimitri says he has learned from interacting with executives are to be willing to take risks and to get involved in different clubs on campus. He is currently a member of the Purdue Running Club and the Purdue chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AIAA), a professional aerospace organization. He is a member of the Purdue AIAA design team.

In addition to the advice he’s received, Dimitri says he has learned lessons from being an EiR ambassador that he can apply to his future career.

“I think as a whole it’s helped me to improve my professional skills just by talking with these people who have had successful careers and are now holding these executive positions within companies,” says Dimitri, who is majoring in aerospace engineering. “It’s real unique to say I had this experience and take some of things they’ve taught me about finding that special niche within a career.”

Though the beginning of Dimitri’s career is still several years ahead, he says he would like to pursue a career in the aerospace industry. While Dimitri says he doesn’t think he wants to become an astronaut, he would like to work in a position that directly supports astronauts and future space missions.

No matter what he choose to pursue, Dimitri says he feels more freedom to experiment to find the right fit – something he has learned from visiting executives who have taken different paths to where they are today.

“After meeting some of these people and hearing their stories, I don’t feel like I have to, on the first try, get the job right,” says Dimitri. “If I find out that I don’t like what I’m doing at first, I have the freedom to change and that’s not necessarily going to hold me back for my entire career. I’ll also have that chance to grow and if I work hard like these people did, both in school in my career, I’ll be able to maybe one day hold one of these positions.”

In the meantime, Dimitri says he is looking forward to staying involved in EiR and continuing to meet with visiting executives.

        Drew and Indi Feustel with UR Staff

Drew and Indi Feustel pose for a selfie with University Residences staff and retirees. 

Alumni Profile

Feustels Share UR Connection as part of EiR Visit

One of the highlights of this fall’s Executive-in-Residence program was a visit by Drew and Indi Feustel.

Drew is one of Purdue’s 24 astronauts and the only one who is not an engineer, having been selected by NASA in 2000. He has a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences, specializing in seismology, and is a veteran of three space flights. His missions include serving on STS-125, the mission launched to service to the Hubble Space Telescope; STS-134, which delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station (ISS); and serving as commander on ISS for Expedition 55 and 56. He has spent 226 days in space and performed nine space walks.

Indi has been a medical speech-language pathologist for 28 years, specializing in the adult neurogenetic population. She and Drew were honored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) as “Stars of Communication” for highlighting the importance of communication in space flight at the ASHA 2018 convention in Boston. Indi is also an advocate for and annual participant in the American Heart Association Heart Walk, for which she has raised more than $250,000. 

While on campus, Drew and Indi met and interacted with students in learning communities and in one-on-one settings. They also presented to a group of University Residences and Dining & Culinary staff and retirees in the Hillenbrand Atrium, where they shared their story of their partnership from Purdue through space activities and their respective careers.

Drew and Indi met at the beginning of Indi’s pursuit of a master’s degree at Purdue. The two met when both were resident assistants, then known as hall counselors, in the late-1980s. Drew served as a residence hall counselor in Cary Quad, while Indi was in Meredith Hall.

Indi related part of what their respective experiences in the residence halls system has meant to them.

“The residence hall program launched us into our careers, into our relationships we have, our friendships, everything,” she said. “It’s the tough times where you learn your skills. You learn how to be the best liaison you can be, you learn how to help someone who’s struggling. All of those skills I learned as a residence hall counselor and through our amazing professors and staff here.”

Indi told those in attendance at the presentation in Hillenbrand that coming to Indiana was initially a bit of a culture shock after growing up in Ontario and completing undergraduate work at McGill University in Montreal. Cornstalks gave way to campus however and she says she felt right at home.

“It was wonderful,” she said. “I loved it from the moment I was here and I immersed myself and was going to be the best RA and student I could be.”

Drew and Indi continue to be staunch supporters of their alma mater. Drew was famously presented with an honorary Doctorate of Science while aboard ISS during graduation ceremonies in May 2018. He also helped kick off the university’s sesquicentennial celebration by sharing his own Giant Leaps video

Additional photos from the Feustels’ stay during Executive-in-Residence can be found here. Readers can keep up with their adventures by following Drew and Indi on Instagram. 



EiR 5th Panel Discussion From left: Amy Furry, Steve Furry and Art Norins during the panel discussion. 

Event Profile

Discussion Panel Keynote of EiR 5th Anniversary Celebration

University Residences celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Executive-in-Residence program during Homecoming 2019.

The EiR program was established in 2014-15 to connect students to alumni industry leaders. Four executives typically visit campus for up to a week each semester, living on campus in Third Street Suites while they interact with and mentor students in various settings, from lecture halls and residence halls to dining courts and basketball courts.

Each visiting executive helps plan their visits according to their areas of expertise and even their own hobbies and interests. Organized interactions can include meeting with academic departments, Residential Life groups and professional staff, and meeting individually with students during Coffee & Consulting, which allows students one-on-one time to receive career advice, discuss other areas of the executive’s expertise or share thoughts on their Purdue experience. Events organized by executives have included poker nights, “Shark Tank” style exercises and executive-board simulations which teach students about the decision-making process inside an executive boardroom.    

The keynote event of the EiR anniversary weekend was a panel discussion featuring returning executives. Moderated by Drew Mattison, the event brought more than 430 years of combined professional experience in front of students, faculty and staff on the Fowler Hall stage.  Whether it was recounting multiple instances in which individuals at Purdue helped in their success or reminiscing on horror stories involving various classes, executives were quick to relate how Purdue helped prepare them for their careers.

“There’s no problem that anyone in the corporate world can put in front of me that beats Physics 251,” joked Patrick Mosher, Chief Scientist of Sales & Marketing Talent Solutions for Accenture and a long-time supporter of EiR.

While there were light-hearted moments shared with the audience, executives also related pieces of advice to those in attendance. One theme that was reflected throughout the discussion was that students should try new things and not be discouraged by setbacks.

“These four years are a gift,” said Emily Liggett, CEO of Novatorque. “It’s a laboratory and a safe space to try new things and take some risks and it’s in those risks that we get out of our comfort zone and we really learn a lot. We learn about ourselves and we grow a tremendous amount. Take classes that sound interesting, not necessarily those where you know there’s an ‘easy A.’ Try out a few things that you may not get, run for an office you might not win, apply for some scholarship that’s difficult to get. And if you don’t get it, then just move on and find something else that’s interesting because there’s so many opportunities here.”

Steve Furry, CEO and Founder of Catalyst Healthcare Advisors, told those assembled that they shouldn’t be discouraged if they don’t find their ideal job right out of college.

“If there’s one thing I had to hone in on in the message we’ve tried to share with students who come in and speak with us is that your career path from here is not always a straight line,” Furry said. “We’re here to tell you that path has a lot of zigs and a lot of zags. It’s ok if you fail forward every once in a while. You’re not going to get it right every time.”

Other executives added thoughts on the importance of building relationships while at Purdue.

“The connections that we make and the humans that we engage is the same as it’s always been,” said Mattison. “The cultural system we work in is different, and so understanding what experience can translate to what you want to do is amazingly powerful.”

Returning executives who participated in the panel discussion included:

• Rusty Rueff, Co-Founder and Board Director of Alioth.

• Patrick Mosher, Chief Scientist of Sales & Marketing Talent Solutions, Accenture. (Four-time executive-in-residence).

• Art Norins, Founder and CEO of Nor1.

• Jack Calhoun, former Global President of Banana Republic.

• Gary Hobbs, President and CEO of BWI Real Estate.

• Dave Clifton, Brand Architect.

• Beth Bostwick, Advisor of Women Startup Lab and Co-Founder/CEO of SafeTeller & ReadyTouch.

• Marc Swanson, Chief Financial Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

• Dave Omholt, CEO and Founder of The Entrepreneur Authority.

• Steve Furry, CEO and Founder of Catalyst Healthcare Advisors.

• Amy Furry, Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of Catalyst Healthcare Advisors.

• Drew Mattison, Partner and Vice President of Business Development at Tremendousness.

• Teresa Roche, Chief Human Resources Officer at City of Fort Collins.

• Emily Liggett, CEO of Novatorque.

• Lorna Utley, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit.

More photos of the discussion and fifth anniversary celebration can be found here.

EiR continues to build momentum towards the spring semester and is booking executives well into the future. Stay up to date on upcoming EiR visits and opportunities by visiting:

Writer: Matt Vader | Editors: Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic, Danielle Fawbush

Editorial Board: Barb Frazee, Tammy Loew, Renee Kashawlic | Inquiries Contact:

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