Purdue Profiles: Nathalie Duval-Couetil

November 13, 2012  

Nathalie Duval-Couetil

Nathalie Duval-Couetil, director of Purdue's Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, associate professor of technology leadership and innovation, and associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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Years of conducting market and strategy studies in Europe and Boston gave Nathalie Duval-Couetil unique insight into what turns innovative ideas into successful business ventures.

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 and a PhD from Purdue in curriculum and instruction, Duval-Couetil 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. Students receive the certificate when they complete a series of five courses or approved experiential learning opportunities. 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.  The program is open to students pursuing any major; it is administered through the Office of the Provost and housed in the Burton Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

Through the program, students learn what is necessary to turn an idea into a successful business, and they learn about the leadership and communication skills that are essential in the entrepreneurial world.  Our goal is to make entrepreneurship a viable career path, whether it's immediately after students graduate or 10 or 20 years down the line when they see an opportunity.

What makes the certificate program unique?

When I started in this position in 2005, I was charged with creating a program in which 1,000 students would be involved within three years.  One of the first things I did involved benchmarking existing programs; I found that there were very few examples of multidisciplinary entrepreneurship programs in the country.  Speaking with individuals who had tried to develop such programs really informed how we moved forward.  Today, our certificate program has become one of the largest multidisciplinary entrepreneurship programs in the country, if not the largest.  

I give much of the credit to our great team. They know their stuff, really care about our students and always put them 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; we also hear from students who tell us 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 people 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.

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu

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