UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


Soaring with the Eagles


UNC Kenan-Flagler alumnus D. Keith Pigues (MBA ’93) recently celebrated his first year as dean of the School of Business and tenured professor of management at North Carolina Central University. Not only is he making an impact in this new role, but his accomplishments and contributions as a business executive, speaker, thought leader and author have been recognized by a variety of organizations including Inc.Magazine, Frost & Sullivan, Canadian Marketing Association,BtoB Magazine, the American Marketing Association and CNBC, just to name a few.

What is the secret to his success? Pigues says it was the discovery of his true life purpose.

“In 2004, I began thinking about what I really wanted to do in this life. What emerged is a life purpose: to help people get more out of work and life than they ever thought possible, using what I and others perceived as the gifts and talents I had been given. For me that was speaking, writing, teaching, coaching and advising,” explains Pigues. “I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Those were all things that I had been doing in previous corporate roles, but once I was able to get real clarity around that, it made decision making a lot easier.” One look at his website says it all.

Pigues says he wasn’t originally seeking the role as dean – the opportunity found him. “I eventually realized that this really was a way to help people, possibly in an even bigger way than I had ever had the opportunity to do before. In one year I’ve realized the chance to be able to do that is really special.”

As the school’s first non-academic dean in history, Pigues has accomplished many things during his first year at NCCU including the creation of a new mission, vision, shared values and strategic plan to advance the business school. In particular, he is most proud of two things:

  • Increased collaboration between faculty, staff and administration to move the school forward toward a shared vision
  • Developing mutually beneficial relationships with the business community in Durham, the Research Triangle Park and around the world.
“These relationships are already bearing significant fruit in making students successful,” says Pigues. One example of this plan in action is the launching of the Summer Youth Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, a partnership between NCCU’s school of business and the Durham Public Schools, Make It Happen Foundation, LEAD Organization, Durham mayor’s office and Genworth Financial, the Academy’s founding financial sponsor.

“We launched the Academy as a way to identify talented rising 10th and 11th graders from the local area who have an interest in business and expose them to an incredible two-week summer entrepreneurial experience. More businesses are beginning to understand that we are preparing students who are ready for the real world and can have an immediate impact on their businesses and organizations.”

View a video on the Summer Youth Business and Entrepreneurship Academy.

In addition to his other responsibilities, Pigues has managed to stay connected with UNC Kenan-Flagler through his involvement as an executive coach in the inaugural Leadership Immersion and adjunct professor, teaching Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Elected Leaders Course for two years. “These were unique opportunities to take my business and academic experiences and relate them back to the real world,” says Pigues.

“All these activities are in the sweet spot of my life purpose and the set of gifts and abilities I think I’ve been given. It really is effortless,” says Pigues. “I feel like I’m just right in the zone of what I was put here to do – help people get more out of work and life than they ever thought possible.”

On a related note, Pigues’ second book, Get Over the Fear and Live Your Dream Now, will be published in 2013. He is also co-author of Winning with Customers: A Playbook for B2B (Pigues and Alderman, Wiley & Sons, 2010). View a video trailer on the book for more information.

Pigues credits much of his success to his MBA experience at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “It was life changing for me. I also met my wife there – Monica S. Pigues (MBA ’93).”

“And when you graduate, you’re not just part of an alumni association, you’re part of a vibrant community of people who support one another. I don’t think there is any community more special than Kenan-Flagler’s MBA community, and it is the envy of a lot of business schools. Many of the things I’ve done to support the school are just a small way to give back to the place that has done an awful lot for me.”