Trailblazing CEO shares key successes, expert advice with business students

Emma Battle, founder and CEO of MarketVigor, talked about her professional journey and provided advice for how to become a trailblazer.

By Caroline Perry ’18

Martha and Spencer Love School of Business students gathered for a Lunch and Learn program on April 5 to gain knowledge and advice from Emma Singletary Battle, a successful North Carolina business professional with more than 35 years of experience in operations, strategy, marketing and management.

Battle described her career path as unconventional. Soon after graduating from Duke University, Battle went to work for The Quaker Oats Co. where she was on a leadership track. From there, she made her first crucial decision.

“I made a trailblazing decision,” Battle said. “I got off of the leadership path at Quaker to pursue my MBA. Quaker was very supportive and even offered to fund my MBA, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back to Quaker. I wanted to be free to explore other career paths so I sold my house and took on debt to fund my Harvard Business School MBA.”

From that moment on, she worked for numerous companies and startups, where she garnered diverse skill sets and learned from mistakes. Her career includes positions as an intern at Goldman Sachs; vice president of marketing, vice president of strategic planning, director of marketing and director of operations and sourcing at HanesBrands, Inc. (formerly Sara Lee Branded Apparel); vice president of marketing and merchandising at; senior director of online marketing at Red Hat; and president and chief operating officer at Three Ships Media.

Battle is the founder and CEO of MarketVigor, a business strategy and services company. In this capacity, she serves as vice president of client success for her client Windsor Circle, a predictive marketing software start-up in Durham, North Carolina, and president and CEO for her client Higher Education Works, a non-partisan, non-profit organization advocating for support of North Carolina public higher education.

“One of the things I encourage is taking advantage of the whole college experience,” Battle told the students. “It is so important that you do well in the classroom but also in extracurricular activities. Get to know the faculty, staff and other students. The people you are in class with now are going to be future leaders in the world.”

Battle also encouraged students to find the right mentors and support team.

“The power of networking is incredible,” she stressed.

She recommended learning how to work with people that have diverse styles of leadership. Moreover, she stressed the importance of students being true to themselves. She quoted spiritual teacher and author Marianne Williamson, who said, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine.”

Lastly, Battle emphasized the importance of being authentic and finding a passion in life.

“Do what you love, love what you do, but remember it takes work,” she said. “Cruising is for retirees.”

Battle holds an MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business and a bachelor’s in economics and Spanish from Duke University. She is a member of the Love School of Business Board of Advisors and the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Advisory Board. She and her husband, Joseph A. Battle, are proud parents of Khari, a senior marketing major at Elon, and Iyin, a sophomore at Duke University.