Alumni Spotlight: Paige Vurpillat

How a passion for learning illuminated this HDO’s alum’s career and enables her to plan for future challenges facing the U.S. workforce

Paige Vurpillat, HDO Class of 2015. Paige’s current role is Certification Program Manager at Zilliant, an industry-leading price optimization and management and sales guidance software. She oversees training and enablement initiatives involving organizational effectiveness, product education and professional services. 

First, can you tell us what attracted you to the HDO program? 


PV: After I spent my undergrad studying business and several years working in business operations, I went to work for a company that trained on soft skills and interpersonal skills in corporate environments. My world opened up to studying more than dollars and cents and tactical performance. I was newly aware of my need to bridge the gap to understand people more, and that understanding people was at the heart of all organizational performance and success. I had pursued applying for an MBA twice in my life, because I thought that was the route for me. I set aside those plans for various reasons, and when I saw HDO advertised, I got very excited about the mult-displenary approach. I consider HDO to be the ‘Human MBA’.

Is there a particular memory or moment from your time with HDO that sticks with you? Why?


PV: I’ll never forget our cohort working through a section on problem solving with Dr. Daniel Beaver. The activity was in response to reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Our cohort broke up into multiple groups to come up with approaches to solve a scenario involving a complex logistics problem. Only one of the groups thought to retrace their steps to get to the solution. The other groups only wanted to plow forward – and I was in one of those groups. It was as if there was an unwritten rule I wanted to follow that only allowed looking ahead, and not to the past. This sticks with me because I often find myself retracing my steps or directing my team to do the same in order to get to a solution. I’m more cautious about reviewing the steps I’m taking. It definitely helped improve my critical thinking skills.

In a previous certification role, she won an award for Employee Engagement from Axonify, using micro-learning and gamification to motivate the professional services staff to stay on top of rapid changes facing the regulatory environment of healthcare software.

If someone was on the fence about pursuing a Master’s degree with HDO, what piece of advice would you give them? 

PV: I found the HDO experience to be very rich because I have a stronger understanding of people, problem solving, and the methodologies behind conducting quantitative and qualitative research. This ability has given me so much more confidence in how I contribute at work, in my community organizations, and in society as a whole. If you want the investment of time and energy to pay off in these ways in your life, you will not be disappointed.


How do you see HDO evolving and impacting future cohorts and environments?

PV: Based on the statistics of the aging population leaving the workforce in the next decade and beyond, how organizations are shaped and the people in them may look very different. The labor shortage in the US in recent years due to Covid is just a preview of what is to come. People will be doing more with less at work, and more complex problems impacting society and business will need to be solved. A domestic labor shortage also attracts more immigrants in the workforce. Cross-cultural awareness and respect will be emphasized even more. I believe HDO will be at the forefront of helping the leaders of tomorrow understand and navigate this generational shift.


To find out more about HDO’s Master’s Program, visit us here