December 15, 2008

Striving For Improvement

Jeremy Kacuba ’00 betters himself as triathlete and others as continuous improvement manager for General Mills

After deciding to pursue a career in leadership and organizational development, Jeremy Kacuba ’00 needed a change of pace so he’d know he was heading in the right direction. He found that by leaving corporate America to train for triathlons full time.
“I wanted to experience a different lifestyle to confirm my interests,” says Kacuba, who competed on Lafayette’s Division I baseball (first three years) and cross country (senior year) teams. “I also have an extreme passion for youth athletics. One of the other events that prompted my adventure in triathlon was founding a youth triathlon program at YMCA. The joy we provided for those children made me believe I could do even more with that particular mission as a full-time athlete.”

Kacuba enjoyed the physical test of racing triathlons as well as meeting athletes from around the world.

“The diversity of the events and the challenge of balancing proficiency at three very different sports [swimming, cycling, and running] were very appealing,” he says. “The biggest thing I gain from participating is the opportunity to meet some fabulous people from all over the world. Triathlon seems to attract an interesting and dynamic group of people, and I have had many unique interactions since I started racing.”

Although he has not raced a triathlon since returning to manufacturing, he is training and expects to return to triathlon competition next season.

As continuous improvement manager at General Mills, Kacuba leads the process improvement teams, training organization, and diversity mentoring programs. He also works with employees in the company’s early career development program and conducts sessions on influence and leadership for plant leadership teams.

Endless possibilities are what Kacuba found at Lafayette.

“I don’t recall if I actually ever intended to truly be an engineer,” says the mechanical engineering graduate. “I think the major influence that a small, liberal arts education had on me was exposing me to a way of thinking that allowed me to break from preconceived notions of what I ‘should’ do and focus on what I could do.

“The great thing about undergraduate studies is the chance to find yourself through both your mistakes and successes. There are lessons I still seem to learn about myself when I spend a little time reflecting about some of the choices I made while at Lafayette. Life is ultimately about how we choose to handle the situations we are presented and having the good sense to enjoy the great choices and learn from the bad.”

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