Nathalie Duval-Couetil

Director, Certificate in
Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Years of conducting market research and strategy studies in Europe and Boston gave Nathalie Duval-Couetil unique insight into what turns innovative ideas into successful business ventures.

Nathalie Duval-Couetil

As director of Purdue's Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program — and as associate professor of technology leadership and innovation — Duval-Couetil is passing along her skills and wisdom to students who have their eyes on entrepreneurship. A recipient of an MBA from Babson College, which is a top-ranked institution for entrepreneurship education and research, Duval-Couetil has a PhD from Purdue in curriculum and instruction. She also is associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

What is Purdue's certificate in entrepreneurship and innovation?

The certificate in entrepreneurship and innovation is an academic credential that is similar to a minor. The program is designed to complement their major area of study by providing them with skills and the mindset necessary to create value from their knowledge. Students receive the certificate when they complete a series of five courses or approved experiential learning opportunities. The program is open to students in all majors; it is administered through the Office of the Provost and housed in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

Through the program, students learn about the entrepreneurial process — what is necessary to turn an idea into a successful business, and how to conduct analyses of markets and finances. They also learn about the leadership and communication skills that are essential in the entrepreneurial world. Our goal is to provide inspiration as well as education.

What makes the certificate program unique?

Purdue's certificate program is one of the largest multidisciplinary entrepreneurship programs in the country — if not the largest — and we are really ahead of the curve. When I was charged with creating this program in 2005, there were few examples of programs that brought together students from such a wide variety of majors. Those that did exist were having difficulty scaling. Today, institutions all over the country are emulating our model and we are continually evaluating opportunities to enhance our students' experience. I give much of the credit to our great team, which is comprised of individuals who have a wealth of entrepreneurial experience to share. They know their stuff, are great teachers and always put students first.

Our program's success manifests in a number of ways, including the fact that our introductory classes are full each semester. There is always a waiting list of students who want to take them. We have many examples of students who have chosen the entrepreneurial path. Many more intend to take the entrepreneurial path in the future. We hear students report that they are getting jobs because of this program.

You recently were named to the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship's board of directors. What will you contribute to that organization?

Entrepreneurship education is very popular right now, and many consider it a key component of economic growth. However, research about how to do it best, particularly across disciplines, is very fragmented. As a board member, I hope to contribute to identifying priorities for the field and to help the organization make beneficial connections with educators, particularly in fields such as technology and engineering, which are increasingly recognizing the value of entrepreneurship education.

How did your professional path lead you to Purdue?

I always knew I wanted an international career — probably because I was born abroad and raised bilingual. After I completed my MBA, I took a job with a worldwide consulting firm in its Paris office. To make a long story short, I met my husband, who was a racehorse veterinarian in France, and a variety of circumstances set us both on academic career paths. Now, I get to have an international career right in Indiana, where I get to work with students and faculty from all over the world.

I get the most gratification from knowing that my work has a positive impact on students' career paths — whether it is inspiring them through our classes, discussing their entrepreneurial projects, evaluating career opportunities or even critiquing their resumes. I feel privileged to do this type of work and I'm excited to follow the careers of our many alumni.