Donna Budica is the Founder of dBuEdu, a global education company, preparing the next generation of leaders. With degree in Finance from The Wharton School & MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business, Donna has over a decade of experience as an elite education consultant & industry authority. She helps students excel academically, personally, & professionally using non-traditional methods, high-impact enrichment programs, & result-driven tactics, achieving a 97% admissions & hiring success-rate among clients.
Prior to dBuEdu, Donna built a prolific career in media & entertainment, working with A-List talent across film, tv & music and consulting for companies like Google, Visa, Spotify & Samsung. Learning to excel in business & a fast-paced career made it clear that high academic performance doesn’t always translate to life-skills required for the real-world.
dBuEdu was founded on the principle of bridging the gap between academic achievement & real-world success. They provide students & young adults with personalized programs, mentorship, & key tools to accelerate life-long, sustainable success through Financial Literacy, EQ, & high-performance Leadership Development.
dBuEdu recently launched their 2021 Financial Literacy & Leadership Program — which teaches students Finance Fundamentals, designed by Wharton graduates, through hands-on experience. Students can enroll now in the 10-week Summer Program and receive 1:1 Mentor-Match with a top leader & executive in their specific industry interest. Students also receive an Internship Credential, Letter of Recommendation, & access to dBuEdu’s High-Performance Toolkit, which includes a competitive resume & Personal Project Portfolio.
In your own words, what do you do?
I specialize in helping students & young adults (Gen-Z) anywhere in the world excel academically, personally, & professionally. Through custom enrichment programs focusing on Financial Literacy, Emotional Intelligence, and Industry Leadership, I help bridge the gap between academic achievement & real-world success. And we are achieving that mission by Educating with Purpose.
What is your program about? Why do your customers select you over your competitors? What skills should the education system be promoting to the next generation?
We provide personalized Financial Literacy & Leadership success programs, cultivating transferrable life-skills that they don’t teach in school. The problem with most education consultants is that they’ve only ever worked in education. Our 2-pronged expertise & success across academia & industry sets my company apart. Competitors find it difficult to replicate the value we generate for clients, which is built on our constellation of top-tier credentials, business relationships & prolific first-hand experience. Families, students, & young adults are demanding solutions to institutional education’s shortcomings. Our supplementary, high-impact programs are providing exactly that.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur
I am a first-generation immigrant. Growing up, was expected to pursue a highly traditional education & career path. In my early teens, I knew that I wanted to be my own boss. I also knew that I loved learning, that education was important to me, and that I was intent on pursuing a creative & culturally relevant industry. After finishing my MBA and realizing that I still didn’t actually learn how “real life” worked, I decided to start my first business. Despite having two business degrees, I didn’t know anything, in retrospect. My sister, who is an attorney, quit her high-paying job at the #1 record label & helped me launch that company, making my entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
I have always had intrinsic motivation, incredible self-discipline and drive. The catalyst for becoming an entrepreneur was recognizing that I could contribute & create more value by focusing my strengths, passions, & diversity of experience than I could anywhere else.
Any great story from a customer?
I have been in touch with some of my former students and clients for years. Seeing how they grow from adolescents to career-driven adulthood, I get to experience their evolution. Not just academic, not just professional; but most profoundly, the personal transformation that comes with the other two. Developing confidence, identity, communication skills, resilience, & discovery of purpose is the most exciting part of my work
What does designing your own life mean to you after you have decided to work for yourself?
I definitely work more now than I have at any job in the past. The difference is that I am able to dictate the pace of my day in a way that aligns with my peak productivity and our vision as a company. I wake up by 6:30 am to check my email then immediately put my phone away to meditate for 30 mins and have my coffee. I walk for an hour and listen to audiobooks and then am at my desk to start the workday. I often have to remind myself about being diligent with personal time. Especially during the pandemic where work, programs, clients, and responsibilities can seep into every corner of the day, being mindful of boundaries is the only way to longevity.
How would you describe your leadership style and what has made it so effective?
I’m fueled by my Passion & Vision to give the next generation the tools and skills that we all wish we had when we were younger. It’s important to lead by example and have teammates who complement (and supplement) my skills & traits.
Accountability, creativity, & productivity override top-down mandates. I want to let people do what they’re good at and do not micromanage. Efficacy, autonomy, & value-add are rewarded, not stifled. I fully embody that leadership style & mentality. Ultimately, that is a byproduct of understanding & identifying my own strengths (and weaknesses), where I can connect the dots and build a group of people around me to amplify our collective abilities. That’s when 1+1 = 3.
Busy startup entrepreneurs have lots of demands on their time and are often pulled in lots of different directions, do you have any tips for effective time management and what to focus on first?
Focus on needle-moving activities and the power of small wins. Every week, I make a list of 10 things I need to accomplish by the end of the week. Then I break each day down into 10 smaller tasks that will help me achieve my weekly goals. At times it’s daunting to think about all of the things you need to accomplish, but if you have just 10 wins a week, that’s 520 wins a year — and THAT for an entrepreneur is powerful.
What traits do you look for when building a team?
Building a team is about trust and finding people who are committed to a common goal.
- Communication (clearly & frequently)
- Knowing your role (that means big picture & tactically)
- Autonomy (that means taking initiative & anticipating)
Any advice for entrepreneurs on moving beyond a failure?
We read books and listen to podcasts celebrating the merits of failure. What they don’t teach or talk about is resilience. In life, you are going to fail a lot if you’re taking risks towards success. So you have to get comfortable with failing, learn from it, and avoid making the same mistake twice. This is a daily process for me. The key to a bounce-back is being able to truthfully analyze and understand why we failed — and what actions and behaviors will get you closer to your goal on your next try.
Know Thyself. Honest introspection is failure’s greatest foil.
Share us some tips for women who are in doubt of leaving their secure job and starting their own businesses.
The importance of mentorship. This is a huge void in the market, across every discipline and industry. I didn’t have a mentor. I was forced to learn every step of the way on my own and part of the reason for launching my company & program is to provide:
- Better guidance & mentorship to our clients in their area industry of interest.
- Encourage understanding personal & business finance earlier in life. Developing a more astute mindset helps make better decisions in life and career.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Finding a mentor is key — the sooner you are able to do this, the better-off you are. There are so many things we’re not taught about life-skills and entrepreneurship. If you can find someone to guide you as you make the leap, it will save you time and headaches. That’s exactly what we do in our program.