Leggett balances career with entrepreneurial spirit
After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial technology from Purdue’s College of Technology, Donzel Leggett has been following his life’s motto: Strive to be your best and control your own destiny. Part of controlling one’s destiny, he says, is realizing that change is inevitable.
So while he has a successful career as a vice president with General Mills, he is constantly looking for ways to grow personally and professionally.
“Having other interests provides that opportunity to prepare yourself for post-corporate life,” Leggett said. “There’s also the aspect of learning. In a corporation, you are part of a function, and you become really good at that function, but you are less exposed to how the overall operation works.”
Leggett is General Mill’s vice president for manufacturing, refrigerated and frozen channel, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is accountable for 10 plants in North America and the supply chains of iconic brands such as Pillsbury, Yoplait, and Totinos.
Since 2002, he has also been involved in two business start-ups.
He opened Big Daddy Conch restaurant in Key West, Florida, (his hometown) in 2004. He spent nights and weekends with his business partners working on business and marketing plans, writing commercials, planning special events, and more.
Things were going well for the business until the hurricane season of 2005, which included hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. Tourists, the restaurant’s main customers, stayed away from the area, and the restaurant closed in 2007.
“I’ve experienced ups and downs,” he says. “Opening the restaurant was a big accomplishment, but sometimes things are out of your control. There were, however, things we could have done differently. This was truly a learning experience.”
Leggett also is a partner in Cell Pro Wireless Solutions in Lafayette, Indiana. It has been a successful venture since its inception seven years ago.
By being an integral part of a corporate team as well as a small-business owner, Leggett believes he has strengthened his business sense and leadership qualities in both realms.
Much of his success, he believes, can be traced back to his time at Purdue and three professors.
“I was surrounded by a few professors who took a keen interest in me personally. They said, ‘Look, you are talented, the world is your oyster, you can do whatever you want. The question is, are you going to be motivated to do it,’” Leggett says. “