Chad Seastrunk is an alumnus who has taken every opportunity in his professional career to learn, listen, improve and dream outside of the box. Chad spoke to the graduating class in May after he accepted the College of Textiles Young Alumnus Award. He spoke of people that influenced him along the way and passed advice onto the graduates as they embark on their careers and life outside of NC State.
The Young Alumnus of the Year award was established in 2009 as a way to celebrate young alumni who have graduated in the past 10 years and have made outstanding contributions in their field. Chad Seastrunk, a 2004 bachelor of science and 2005 master of science in Textile Engineering graduate was the recipient for 2014. Chad is currently the Administrative Director of Operations for Duke Raleigh Hospital.
Chad was in the first class of Centennial Scholars and has given back tremendously to the College of Textiles in recruiting and service. Upon graduation he worked for NC State where he taught Six Sigma and worked with healthcare clients, including Duke University Health System, High Point Regional Health System and Wake Med Hospitals. In 2008, he went to John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland as an Administrative Intern and Research Associate in the Department of Quality Improvement where he taught and lead various projects.
His career at Duke University Health System started in 2009 as a Management Engineer in Oncology Performance Services where he worked with all inpatient and outpatient oncology services on labor, productivity and volumes. He knew his ultimate goal was to work and be a leader in hospital healthcare, therefore he attended UNC-Chapel Hill where he received a Masters in Healthcare Administration. Less than two years later was promoted to Administrative Director of Duke Raleigh Cancer Center and Oncology Services responsible for all strategic and financial initiatives for the oncology service line. At the beginning of 2013 he was promoted once again to Administrative Director of Operations responsible for the oncology service line, radiology, labs and environmental services and oversees multiple managers, directors and a staff of over 200 people.
Chad has never forgotten where he got his start and his love for the Wolfpack. Since graduation Chad has been a regular interviewer for the prestigious College of Textiles Centennial Scholarship funded by the North Carolina Textile Foundation and continues to be very involved in Six Sigma. He has spoken and taught classes at NC State and is interested in helping textile students embark on healthcare careers.
Chad reports to the President of Duke Raleigh Hospital, Richard J. Gannotta, and he says this of Chad, “I have found Chad to be an incredibly adept professional with areas of content expertise which have enabled Duke Raleigh Hospital and more specifically our cancer center to expand its programmatic offering now providing a vast array of different modalities for the treatment of this most challenging of diseases.”
Below is Chad’s acceptance speech he gave at graduation on the lawn at the College of Textiles.
This is truly an honor to receive this award today. As I thought about something I could share today with you, I thought back to three people that have truly had impacts on my life both professionally and personally. The skills and advice that these people have given me are things that I continue to live my life by and I believe are what continue to help me be successful in my career.
Always dream big. The degree you are obtaining is coming from the best College of Textiles in the entire world. Like some of you, I originally thought that this degree would only help me out to get a manufacturing job in the textile industry. What I have found in the real world is that the intangible skills like team building, analytical, presentation skills and others are something that we get here, but not something that every college graduate has such a broad exposure to. These skills translate to any job in any industry. The skill I think that continues to set me apart is my presentation skills. What most people do not know about me is that I was the shyest student in my high school. Doing this today would have freaked out the high school version of me. Talking in front of others was not something that I enjoyed or came naturally to me. All of that changed when I stepped into my first TE class with Dr. Jon Rust! After my first experience in one of his classes, my classmates and I all knew just how serious he took presenting and that was instantly ingrained in us. So much so, that one day we had a terrible ice storm, everyone lost power and the University actually closed but more than 50% of classmates (including myself) showed up because it was presentation day in Dr. Rust’s class. His “critiques” of our presentations may have seemed harsh at the time, but what I have grown to appreciate was that he saw something in all of us and he was motivating us to get the best out of every one of us. I cannot thank him enough for the time he spent and opportunities he gave me along the way.
Be adaptive in your career. Never did I dream when I started here that I would end up as a Hospital Administrator. I was very focused as an undergraduate; get the bachelor degree, get the masters, then become the youngest plant manager at Milliken. I was way off! If it wasn’t for Dr. Godfrey’s influence I may not even be here today. Whether he was trying or not he always impressed upon me that with the education I was receiving here, I could work anywhere and do anything. The last semester of my senior year, he gave me an opportunity to work with one of the local hospitals that he was doing some consulting for at the time. That project, that job, changed my life both professionally and personally and set me on a direction I never dreamed was possible and for that I will always be grateful.
Find your Balance. When I took my first job as a Director at Duke, my boss there impressed upon me things that I continue to live my life by, this advice is something I share with all students and administrative fellows that come shadow me. Duke is only paying you for 40 hours of work a week, everything else is time you are donating to Duke! I say this because as you start out in your career you have a thirst to prove yourself on day one. He would always tell me to continue to learn and enjoy the ride, don’t be in a rush to finish your career in the first five years! If you are burnt out, not happy then you are no good to your employer. Take time for you and your family but always get the job done! He started and ended every conversation with me the same way and I continue to do this with my employees today. “Tell me what you learned today.” This encouraged me to always find something new in my job. “Are you still having fun?” If I wasn’t then I was in the wrong job. And because he knew me so well, he would always end with “Stay out of trouble.”
I have told you about 3 people that have greatly influenced me and have been I think keys to my success in both my career and life. The last thing I will leave you with is something personally from me. When I was graduating just 10 years ago, I had a song stuck in my head that I think accurately describes this moment. It actually was one of the first songs I learned how to play on the guitar, something I still enjoy doing to this day. The song is by Green Day and from 1997, so maybe that makes it a classic at this point?
Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end that’s right,
I hope you had the time of your life.