Rhonda M. Smith (MBA ’88) is the CEO and founder of Breast Cancer Partner, a for-profit organization that provides breast health and wellness education and cancer survivorship consulting services. Breast Cancer Partner currently is the strategic partner for seven Susan G. Komen California affiliates and project manager overseeing the Circle of Promise California Initiative, a state-wide breast cancer disparities initiative targeting African American women.
In October 2010, More magazine named Smith a first place prize winner in the publication’s Beauty Search Contest based on her essay “Why This Is the Most Fabulous Time in My Life." The essay chronicled her journey through breast cancer and her emergence from the experience with a new sense of passion and purpose.
Smith earned a degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech and her MBA from the Darden School of Business in 1988. After graduating from Darden, she worked in marketing management and sales for Eli Lilly and DuPont before joining StratX International as a senior consultant. In 1998, she launched her first consultancy business, Rhegal Consulting.
What was your first job?
Staff engineer for the city of Charlotte.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Your reputation is everything.
What motivates you?
My ability to help make a difference in people’s lives. Helping others have an ‘aha’ moment about their health and wellness.
In which social networks do you engage?
Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I blog and have a website: www.breastcancerpartner.com.
What technology can you not live without?
Well, I guess a smartphone, much as I resisted. The other day, I started a post, “Do smartphones make people not so smart?”
What’s your favorite business book of all time?
Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.
What’s your motto?
Never expect anything from anyone that they’re not willing or capable of giving you, and you’ll never be disappointed.
Which living person do you most admire?
Steve Jobs changed how we communicate and access information, and our lifestyle. He had a vision, and he didn't let anyone interfere with it. I really admire people who do that.
How do you deal with conflict?
I meditate or I go for a walk on the beach.
What characteristics do you look for in people?
Authenticity and integrity.
Which natural talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to be able to sing or have some sort of musical talent.
What is your most treasured possession?
What have you recently uploaded onto your iPod?
Sam Smith, Andreya Triana.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Back in Miami Beach. If not here, then Costa Rica.
Who’s your favorite action hero?
I like Lara Croft.
What’s your favorite food and beverage?
I love Thai food. I love anything spicy. And my favorite beverage depends on my mood and the time of day, but champagne, wine and margaritas all make the list.
Which class at Darden impacted you the most?
“Communications and Analysis,” which was all about speech and writing.
Which Darden professor influenced you the most?
I don’t want to answer this one because I would have to leave someone out. There were a few: Professors John Colley, Bob Landel and Sherwood Frey. And Professor John Snook, who’s long gone but was a gem.
Describe a moment when you realized the true value of your Darden education.
When I heard that The Economist ranked Darden the No. 3 business school in North America, ahead of Harvard, I thought to myself, “Wow, now that’s great.”
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I’d like to think I haven’t gotten there yet.