151204_headshots_previews_8587Working for the Air Force was never in the plans for Madeleine Breaux. When she found herself there through a position at IBM, she was still not aware of what amount of passion could grow through her experiences.

Breaux now serves as an Interactive Experience and Mobile Consultant with IBM, and works at the Pentagon for her client, The Air Force Civil Engineers.

“I think the position I’m in right now is the most exciting one I’ve had so far because I’m leading a couple of different teams that all work for the same client,” Breaux said. “I like that aspect of getting insight into what everyone is working on and figuring out strategies to cross collaborate with those teams and work with the leadership of our clients.”

She began her career in the fall of 2013 after her spring graduation from Virginia Tech.

“I never would have thought I would be working for the Air Force with IBM. I don’t necessarily have Defense in my background, but I’ve realized through my experience  that making those connections and finding those things that you are passionate about can really make you enjoy your career and find it fulfilling.”

After starting out as one of the members of the training team that she now leads, she then worked for a short amount of time for the Army Information Technology Agency doing communications and workforce events. This past August, Breaux began her current leadership role.

“As it pertains especially to my current role, my favorite part is knowing that I am making a positive impact for my team, my client, and the Air Force,” Breaux said. “I have received multiple messages from officers in the Air Force who have thanked me personally for what my team and I have done and how we have impacted their role and strengthened the Air Force at large; notes like that have been so powerful and motivational for me.”

While at Tech, Breaux studied Business Management, on the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Technology (EIT) track, and completed a minor in International Business.

“My favorite class was a management class called Innovation Technology and Entrepreneurial Leadership. It was a class where we did a lot of group projects, and our biggest one was to come up with a business idea for a successful venture in Blacksburg. Both of my parents started their own business and I have always been passionate about entrepreneurship, so I really enjoyed those exercises.

Breaux also took her studies abroad, when she participated in the Pamplin Riva San Vitale trip as a junior. Even outside of classes, she juggled involvement in campus-wide service events such as Greeks Giving Back and The Big Event. She also served on SGA for a year, and then as the Vice President of Finance for her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega.

Now, Breaux continues to remain involved as a Hokie as one of the youngest members of Pamplin’s Recent Alumni Board.

“I think the most exciting thing we are working on  is simply providing a way for alumni to stay engaged with Pamplin and connect back to the University. I have heard from a lot of alums – people who have graduated recently with me, as well as some of my coworkers that graduated ten years ago – and they’ve all mentioned how they would love to stay involved, but they just don’t know how,” Breaux explained.

Her role on the Outreach Committee has allowed her the opportunity to help brainstorm some of the ideas and concepts that the RAB works through.

“We have been working with the Initiatives Committee and coming up with marketing materials to pair up with their programs and events,” Breaux said. “We are also doing research on other schools to see what they are doing to engage with their alumni, and benchmarking that against what Pamplin currently offers. We look for areas that we can improve on and then develop some of those programs.”

As a member of the RAB, one of Breaux’s main initiatives is to stay engaged with students, so we asked her some questions to get the conversation started.

What is your favorite book?

“Freakonomics. It’s just one of those books that made me stop and think about things, and made me really realize that I shouldn’t always take everything as it seems.s. There are often hidden factors that drive results. It’s a book that changed how I think about things in my personal life,in my career, and just really across the board.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I love to travel – that’s probably my favorite thing to do in my free time. I find it fascinating to  learn about different cultures.”

What are your words of advice for students?

“The biggest thing is just to talk to as many people as you can and find out what they have to say about their careers. I think whether it’s professors, potential employers,family friends, or even friends who have recently graduated, you can learn something from everyone. People often are willing to share their stories and your network can really never be too big. Keep those connections  – you never know what one story will lead to and what doors will open.. It seems so simple, but so many people shy away from starting the conversation.”

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