The Incremental Principle

If the Lundquist College educational experience of John Feeney "08 had a theme, it would definitely be growth. He first visited marketing instructor and Honors Program founder (and former director) Mike Dore to ask about the program when Feeney was just a freshman—a sign that he was already a leader. But Feeney wanted to push himself further.

“I wanted to see significant growth through my education, and I believed that the Honors Program was the best way to achieve that," he said.

During his two years in Honors, Feeney consistently applied the “incremental principle," which holds that whatever you're doing—working, writing, or preparing a presentation—put in that little extra effort beyond the norm to maximize your impact. Encouraged by the fast-paced courses and the program's camaraderie, Feeney began imagining a future in investment management. One day in the Honors lounge, however, several students suggested that he had the right blend of skills to succeed in public accounting.

That casual discussion became the catalyst for a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the encouragement Feeney needed to sit for the CPA exam, where he received the third-highest score in the state of Oregon.

But then it was time to set a new goal. Feeney applied to Harvard Business School and earned his MBA degree in 2013. He also launched and sold a successful Boston-based startup called Chef'd Up, which brings top chefs into private homes for interactive culinary experiences.

Today, he manages a process improvement team and provides financial analysis for Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) in Wilmington, North Carolina.

“The Honors Program prepared me to succeed at Harvard Business School. What really stands out is the commitment of everyone involved. It created an environment where nothing could occur, but success."

True to form, Feeney said he's eager to enhance his management and operational skills. He's not basking in his accomplishments. He's ready to lead, and he credits the Honors program with giving him the confidence to pursue his dreams.

The incremental principle has taken him from Eugene to Harvard and beyond. Growth has become more than a theme—it's a constant companion.