A chance encounter with a corporate recruiter set Navy veteran Nick Doria ’74 MBA on to a career that has concluded with a planned gift to the Whitman School. His bequest will establish an endowment providing scholarship assistance for veterans pursuing an MBA through the resident program.
That conversation landed Doria a job with GTE Corporation, a forerunner of Verizon. He retired from GTE as a senior vice president and chief administrative officer over a 13-state region. His career then took him to Australia and back to the United States, finishing with nearly 15 years as an entrepreneur, starting TND Enterprises, a lithographic graph arts and printing company. At the end of 2018, he sold the company.
“Now that I have retired, it is time to give back,” says Doria, who reached out to Assistant Dean for Advancement Christopher Crooker with his idea to repay Whitman. “The scholarship that we are creating is intended to select a recent military veteran, preferably Navy, and support his/her scholastic efforts for the entire duration of the MBA. I am hopeful this $300,000 contribution will help someone else realize their dream as it did mine.”
“Nick’s foresight and generosity will have a positive impact on our MBA program in perpetuity. By enabling veterans to gain access to a graduate degree here at Whitman, he is helping the School achieve one of our highest priorities,” Crooker says.
Doria’s ambition lifted him well beyond his blue-collar background in Rome, New York, where a school guidance counselor “told me to take easy courses in high school because most students in my socioeconomic class did not go to college” but aimed for factory work. Instead, he enlisted in the Navy, serving four years.
The GI Bill paid for his undergraduate education, a bachelor’s degree in management science magna cum laude from the Binghamton University School of Management, but wouldn’t cover graduate school. When he applied to Syracuse University, the School of Management gave him a full scholarship.
“The success I have today all started with the color Orange and that scholarship,” Doria says.
That chance encounter with the corporate recruiter occurred in the last fall semester of his MBA program. Serving as a teaching assistant to retired Army Maj. Gen. William M. Lynn, director of what was then called the Army Comptrollership Program, Doria was sent on an errand to the Career Center. Chatting with the Career Center manager, he was told he should have signed up to interview with the GTE recruiter who was visiting that day.
“I was in jeans, not prepared and had no knowledge of GTE,” Doria says. “As fate would have it, the recruiter had a break in his schedule, so we chatted for 30 minutes. A week later, I received a call at home, and it was that same recruiter inviting me to the world headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, for a second interview. I told my wife we needed to rush to the library, so I could investigate GTE.”
The second interview ended with a job offer as a member of the MBA Manager Development Program to train selected talent for general management positions. At the time GTE was a Fortune 20 corporation.
When GTE merged with Bell Atlantic to create Verizon in 1996, Doria joined BHP, a mining and oil exploration company, in Melbourne, Australia, as global leader for human resources. In 1999, he moved to Gibson Musical Instruments, in Nashville, Tennessee, as chief administrative officer. “As a very amateur guitarist and musician, Gibson was a super gig for me,” he says. He left Gibson in 2004 to start up TND Enterprises.
Lessons from his MBA days have served Doria ever since. “Every corporate executive should have basic business acumen, like knowing how to read a financial statement and discuss line items. With the world and competition always changing, setting both strategic and tactical plans should be a priority, along with knowing how and when to take risks,” said Doria.
“But the most important lesson came from me role modeling my self-appointed mentor professors as how to treat people with respect,” says Doria, citing Lynn; then Assistant Dean Charles A. McIntosh, director of the MBA program; and D. Kline Hable, a professor of personnel and industrial relations.
“They made me realize that building relationships with all levels within an organization would make it easier to get great ideas outside of the executive suite,” he says. “Human resources are truly an important asset. I suggest that all MBA majors take at least one course in HR, because whatever their future endeavors, HR will play a role.”
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