Barbara Duncan Marchetti '84


life in the balance

%829%left%One night in 1998 as Barbara Duncan Marchetti '84 sat in yet another Admiral's Club lounge at yet another bustling airport, her flight was cancelled. Marchetti had spent the previous two years speaking at business conferences,and logging more than 90,000 domestic sky miles per year. Her one-woman company was growing quickly, but so was her year-old son, Nicholas, back home. Marchetti suddenly realized that she could not do everything. "I had to get home to see my baby!" she said.

The epiphany was a long time coming for Marchetti, who believes the key to a contented life is finding balance. Marchetti is president and founder of Preferred Resource Group Inc. in Andover, Mass., a company she started in 1991. The company provides retained executive search services, strategic counseling, and executive mentoring and training. Instead of modeling her company exactly on those she previously had worked for, she created a company that acted as a catalyst for those industries by mentoring them and helping them run more efficiently.

She found success rather quickly. "It was almost comical," she said. "Here I was, twenty-nine years old and I was giving counsel to owners and senior execs of companies with over a hundred million dollars in sales." And while her company continued to grow, she realized that hiring employees would help her keep the balance she always seeks. With four employees on board (and more expansion anticipated), Marchetti has more time to spend with her husband, Vito, and her son, and she even branched out into jewelry making, "to keep the creative juices flowing." By request, she supplied Colby with some bracelets last year. On top of all that, she works out like a world-class athlete, "I'm an avid workout freak. I wake up at 4:30 every morning to go to the gym. It drives my husband crazy," she said.

%830%right%Clearly Marchetti's numerous jobs and avocations have brought her far since Colby. But higher education still fills an important role in her life, both in the business world and outside of it. She currently volunteers for the One Family Scholar's mentor program, which prepares single mothers for college and provides scholarships.

Marchetti also just added a new service at Preferred Resource,teaching college-bound students how to "package themselves and stand out, not stick out" in admissions interviews. The process involves extensive one-on-one meetings, videotaped conversations, and a final mentoring process. Marchetti started the service because she feels that credentials are no longer enough. "There is a deficiency in the professional world of how people package themselves, so we need to cultivate professionals from younger ages," she said.

Marchetti can see herself teaching at the college level eventually, bringing a curriculum of the "reality of the business world" to supplement economic and business theory. Colby has approached her over the years to teach such a Jan Plan course, she says, but the three-hour commute from Plaistow, N.H., is too much even for a person used to endless traveling. She does make it a point to recruit interns from Colby.

Her success in business may not have been what she envisioned growing up the oldest of five children in a middle-class family in Andover, Mass. She entered college intending to become a doctor, but after Biology 101 she realized that medicine was not for her. It was not until she entered the business world that she really began to thrive. "When I started working, the Barbara Duncan, the aggressive, the leader, the [person] always trying new things, the risk taker, came back. And I think I needed to experience the intimidation and competition for the real me to come out."

,Brendan Sullivan '06