As soon as Caroline Fulmer heard about Notre Dame’s IDEA Center, she knew she wanted to work there. With a background in biology and previously on a pre-medical track while an undergraduate at Otterbein University, Caroline was looking to transition from her experience in the sciences to an applied technology and business route. While pursuing her Masters in Science Management through the Mendoza College of Business, Caroline became highly involved in Notre Dame’s business community - including the world of startups. Caroline started working as a technical analyst in the IDEA Center under Kunigunda Szentes, the IDEA Center’s New Venture Development & Invention Program Manager. “Working with people like Kunci and Tim Joyce (IDEA Center Manager of Technology Validation) was an amazing experience because they provided mentorship, support and trust that allowed me to gain experience in sensitive real world projects that pushed me to grow both my technical and interpersonal skills in projects that I was passionate about,” says Caroline.
“When I came to Notre Dame, I knew I wanted to tie healthcare & life science with business and didn’t know exactly what that looked like. Through my position at the IDEA Center and getting involved in the consulting club, [I discovered that a career in] consulting is a great opportunity to connect technical skills with people skills.” Now as a Strategy and Consulting Analyst at Accenture, Caroline actively applies the experience she gained during her time at the IDEA Center on a day-to-day basis. Not only does this include executing on the critical basics of how to build a comprehensive slide deck and collaborate with her peers but also how to communicate effectively with high-level decision-makers. “Through the IDEA Center I had the opportunity to talk to a wide range of professionals from a CEO of a small company, a surgeon or a hospital director; to be able to go to them and articulate my questions about their business or problem is a super valuable skill I use today. I accredit my confidence to reach out to and communicate with executives at any level much to the opportunities I had at the IDEA center.”
While working as a consultant at Accenture, Caroline has also had the opportunity to engage with the venture capital arm of the firm called Accenture Ventures. There she has had the opportunity to connect with the start up ecosystem and industry leaders to help promote startups that can meet client needs in new and innovative ways. Caroline insists that the building blocks of entrepreneurship still apply “whether it be for business strategy or any other client project. You have to understand what the problem is, what the technical solution landscape has to offer and decide whether the solution will provide cost effective improvements.”
It’s never been the easy work that’s motivated Caroline; as a technical analyst, instead it was conducting due diligence for fundraising, working through constructive criticism, and being constantly pushed to get answers. “I’ve learned there are many ways to ask a question and the one that you choose affects the type of answer you get – those are the types of people skills that last a lifetime.”