Charlene Begley, '88

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Senior vice president, General Electric

Late last year, The Wall Street Journal published a list of "50 Women to Watch" in the world of business. The newspaper wrote that this "new generation of women leaders who grew up watching pioneering women break into the executive suite has moved into the corner offices of some of the world's largest companies." UVM alumnae made their mark, earning two spots on the WSJ honor roll: Charlene Begley '88, a senior vice president at General Electric (GE), was one of them.

"I've always approached every job as a massive learning experience."

Begley says she's always approached jobs like a college class: "Massive cramming in the beginning — get every book I can, learn as much as I can. When you have a leadership position, you have the advantage of being able to call people in your office and say, 'Teach me about this, teach me about that.' I’ve always approached every job as a massive learning experience. I ask a thousand questions. I really try to understand the process, how things work, the technology. I get out to customers really early and learn from them what we’re good at, what we need to get better at, what our competitors are better than us at. And so it is just a big cram to try to accelerate the learning."

Begley's UVM education was "right on"

From cramming during the college years to cramming on the job, Begley says that it was her UVM business experience that has helped her shine. "My experience at the business school was awesome. Later in life, as I've gone through my career at GE, the classes I took at UVM were right on," says Begley. "Whether it was the IT classes, Lauck's class (Professor Lauck Parke), statistics, Laber's class (Professor Eugene Laber) — they were absolutely spot on. Obviously, I didn't fully appreciate it at the time. But as I've gone on through my career, I learned a little bit about all of this at UVM. So, in that sense, I couldn't have asked for a better education."

Charlene Begley

Business at UVM: