Meet Peggy Batchelor
Take one look at her resume and it’s clear, Peggy Batchelor defines versatility. She has seamlessly maneuvered between multiple roles throughout her career in both academia and in the corporate world. She taught as an adjunct instructor at Cal Poly and Cal State (LA) while working in the corporate world; taught full-time in the Furman day program while teaching as an adjunct in UES; and she continues to work with Furman’s Rushing Center to teach BlueCross Blue Shield executives in Columbia while living in Brevard, NC. Peggy epitomizes flexibility.
Following graduate school, she evolved from programmer analyst at a Xerox subsidiary, to a systems analysts and consultant with Arthur Andersen, to a project manager at Teradata (when it was a start-up). Since leaving California, Peggy has taught at Furman for the past 25 years. Besides being a great role model for women in the IT field, she is highly regarded at UES for both her extensive subject matter expertise and her ability to explain a technical subject effectively, without condescension. Students use terms such as comprehensive, enthusiastic, practical, and patient in describing Peggy’s instructional approach. The highly regarded instructor has some advice for students:
Prepare by testing, and have a backup-plan in case ideas don’t work. When she was about 11 years old, Peggy decided she would teach herself how to scuba dive. Her plan consisted of a boat, some bricks tied to rope, and a garden hose. After hopping into the boat and tying the bricks around her waist, Peggy grabbed the garden hose, and jumped overboard. When she hit the bottom of the ocean floor, Peggy painfully came to realize a lesson in physics. Air pressure in an elastic tube is no match for the weight of an ocean. There was no air traveling down the hose. That realization combined with no means for untying the bricks led to a few scary moments before she managed to escape and swim to the surface.
Later in life, Peggy witnessed the havoc wreaked as a result of untested action when she worked as a programming analyst. She watched a new manager choose to implement a direct software conversion on a weekend without commencing any prior testing. She still vividly recalls the chaos that ensued when the new system failed, a new system that was initiated only after the old system had been fully removed. Both experiences could have been prevented by better planning, testing, and backup plans.
Don’t resist — Adapt! What’s one of the greatest workplace challenges Peggy has encountered? Implementing computer systems in a corporate environment where employees are resistant to change. She observes that higher education can become ossified in its reticence to embrace change. Students can also fall prey to change-averse syndrome, resistant to adaptation and application of their learning in new situations. “They want steps to follow, not necessarily understanding,” relying on rote memory rather than applying the knowledge to new situations.
Be curious and learn broadly. She encourages students to understand all the basic functional areas of their companies to increase their worth to their employers. This kind of broad understanding provides insight to adeptly merge the technical with the business concerns. She notes further that the ability to express oneself and communicate effectively, cultivated through a well-rounded liberal arts education, and prepares students to interpret the company’s needs across a variety of functional areas to a diverse range of audiences.
Learn more about how you can finish your degree and advance your career with Undergraduate Evening Studies at Furman.