Auburn alumnus travels the world with business degree

Published: February 24, 2020
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Auburn University alumnus Drake Pooley has not been in the same city for more than six days straight in over a year and a half.

Pooley, a finance and international business major, is living his dream of traveling the world as an associate management consultant at Kearney, one of the top eight global consulting firms.

Because of his unique work schedule, he has learned to make home wherever he is in the world.

“I’ve been to 12 countries in the past four months and realize it’s a huge privilege,” said Pooley. “I think the heavy emphasis on involvement at Auburn led to a constant context of switching that made me find ways to be at home regardless of what I was doing or where on campus or community I was.”

Pooley caught the travel bug after visiting a friend in Switzerland.

“Waking up in Zurich, deciding we want pizza in Milan and being back in Switzerland by night was one of the coolest things to me,” said Pooley. “I ended up going to China for a summer after my second year at Auburn and feel like I’ve been traveling ever since.”

Pooley is currently working out of Kearney’s Dubai office on a nine-month project that will set up thousands of nonprofit community groups. These groups could not exist in a different, conservative Middle Eastern country before Pooley and his team helped pass a law allowing the groups to form.

“I’m responsible for designing how we can use a budget of a few hundred million dollars to support the community groups in the most efficient way possible to create the biggest amount of impact,” said Pooley. “Imagine your local choir or soccer club; those haven’t existed legally in this country so we’re creating the best environment for them to thrive.”

CNBC recently featured Pooley in its Millennial Money series in the article, “How a 23-year-old making $172,000 a year in New York City spends his money.” Pooley discusses his salary, budget plan and savings, while also mentioning his personal connection with charity work.

Pooley relied on his business classes as he learned how to structure problems and solve them in smart ways, as well as to accept nothing less than perfection. This is useful in his position as he thinks through difficult problems from beginning to end and creates plans of approach for the client.

In addition to his academics, he learned selflessness and humility while he was at Auburn.

“I think Auburn is a very humbling experience because the people are so humble,” said Pooley. “The combination of hard work and humility is becoming more and more rare, but is always found in Auburn.”

Pooley’s advice for current students in his major is to “figure out your uniqueness and how to serve others in that.” He encourages students to find out how they can uniquely contribute to an organization and make it better.

“This is something most students don’t appreciate because they don’t realize that they have a specific value to something larger than themselves,” said Pooley. “When you can say that you bring a unique value, skill, perspective and attitude, and clearly define that, you’re already 10 steps ahead.”

Pooley will continue to remember one of the best pieces of writing he has ever read, the Auburn Creed, of which the sixth stanza discussing the human touch is starting to resonate with him more and more.

“The world is a tough place, but it’s not a zero sum,” said Pooley. “The more we help each other out, regardless of our backgrounds or whether we gain from it, the better and happier our world becomes.”

Auburn University's Harbert College of Business provides its students with an innovative-yet-practical education focused on career readiness. The college's degree programs in accountancy, business analytics and supply chain management lead the nation. Its research centers in supply chain management and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology guide the Fortune 100. Harbert's pioneering online education programs offer value and flexibility. The college's nationally recognized faculty produce research that informs and responds to today's business trends. Learn more at the Harbert College of Business website.