Paying It Back
As one of six children growing up in a single parent household on a poor farm in rural Texas, Ty Eggemeyer (MBA ’89) never imagined he'd end up at a school like Darden. "The school where I spent grades one through four had 64 kids — for all 10 grades," he said. "When I went to a high school with 320 students, I thought it was gigantic." Still, the chair and CEO of the electronics manufacturing company Conelec of Florida says his upbringing taught him the best possible values: self-sufficiency, problem solving and independence. "I had to make the land payment, farm the farm, take care of my sisters and go to school. My mom, who was a very strong woman, taught me to be the way I am today: 'If you're not going to do it, get out of the way, and I'll do it myself.'"
Eggemeyer's self-reliance has served him well, particularly in his career. "I fix manufacturing companies with a private equity group," he said. "We use technology and software to streamline and improve operations and then grow small companies into world-class ones." His recipe for success involves a blend of intuitive problem solving and the structured process he learned at Darden. "I had raw problem-solving ability when I got to Darden, but [the School] taught us a much more structured methodology that stuck with me. Darden also taught me how to prioritize," Eggemeyer explained. "The professors were extremely good at getting you to learn without realizing you were learning. That’s what Darden’s strength is. That's why, if you look at schools from a teaching perspective, it's the top teaching institution for MBAs in the world."
Now semiretired, Eggemeyer looks forward to writing, traveling and spending time with his wife. He also enjoys biking: He pedaled from Los Angeles to Boston in 2006 and from Los Angeles to Kansas City in 2012 to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
As a class agent and Shermet scholar, he encourages his classmates to support the Darden Annual Fund: "Really, we're supporting people who are like us. We're paying it back, not forward."
Eggemeyer's appreciation for his alma mater is obvious. "People don't realize that there are only four or five decisions in life that really matter," he said. "Next to marrying my wife, Leslie, attending Darden is the second best thing I've ever done. It took that raw person who grew up on a farm and was in awe of the people around him, and it gave him the problem-solving skills and the confidence to go out into the world. Darden really changed my life."