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Failure, Success, and a Sense of Belonging: Alum Kevin Durkin Shares Career Insights at Executive Forum

by W. Daniel J. Parfitt '20 Feb 20, 2020

Kevin Durkin ’85 walked students through his life and experiences in the public sector and shared valuable life lessons during the seventh annual Executive Forum.

Having initiated his career at age 13, transferred to DeSales in his junior year, and served in the United States Marines for five years, Durkin’s journey has been far from ordinary.  

“I would never have guessed that I’d end up where I am today,” he said. 

As it would turn out, Durkin’s time in the military proved instrumental in moving forward with his career. After the completion of his time in the Marines, he discovered the U.S. Public Sector of Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and made his first major career move. With numerous other service members and veterans around him, he found a culture at EDS where he truly felt he fit.  

As the current president of NTT DATA Federal Service, Durkin emphasized the value of an employee’s sense of belonging within a company. This is what he believes to be the key to individual success. 

“Don’t look for the shiny job,” he emphasized. “Seek out a culture where you know you’ll fit.” 

Rather than perceiving success as a certain amount on a paycheck, a certain house, or a certain car, Durkin encouraged students to view it as an ever-changing set of universally applicable yet individual-based goals: make a difference, help those in need, hone a skill, be better than you were yesterday. 

Finally, Durkin urged students by saying, “Don’t be afraid to fail.” For him, the best lessons he’s ever learned have been a result of failure.