Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Leadership Fellows

David Kearns

Background:  I was born and raised in Hickory, NC. I chose to “stay home” and attend The University of North Carolina for my undergraduate studies, where I first attended Kenan-Flagler Business School, earning my BSBA. Immediately after receiving my BSBA in 2005 I joined The Link Group, a marketing research consultancy, where I spent the next eight years. At The Link Group I directed both qualitative and quantitative research projects worldwide, conducting business in 20+ countries across five continents to help clients gain global insights and develop worldwide strategy. Working at a consultancy afforded me the opportunity to gain broad business experiences from partnering with a wide variety of clients across diverse organizations and industries, and it also challenged me to “lead from the middle” while managing cross-organizational project teams consisting of partners, colleagues, and clients.

Career Path:  As I advanced in my career at The Link Group and began to manage my own client accounts I had opportunities to focus on those individual client organizations, which allowed me to better understand their broader strategies beyond the specific marketing research projects on which I was consulting. I realized that I was passionate about problem solving, helping businesses overcome key challenges, and developing overall strategy. However, I also recognized that to do that effectively I would need to refresh my full portfolio of core business skills and continue my leadership development, so I decided that I needed to pursue an MBA. Returning to UNC Kenan-Flagler was ultimately the best choice for me because the school genuinely lives its core values and places a strong emphasis on developing leadership skills. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in internal strategy or management consulting.

Interests and Hobbies:  I love spending time with my wife and son at home, add in our three dogs and there is rarely a dull moment! When we have a chance to get away, we like to travel abroad and see new places. I’m also a passionate college sports fan (Go Heels!).