Freddy Ray Dugard: From S&T’s football field to Ford’s front office

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On March 13, 2024

Freddy Ray Dugard stops an opposing player during Missouri S&T’s 2014 football season. Photo by B.A. Rupert/Missouri S&T.

Freddy Ray Dugard stops an opposing player during Missouri S&T’s 2014 football season. Photo by B.A. Rupert/Missouri S&T.

When Freddy Ray Dugard was a senior in 2009 at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, New York, he says he wouldn’t have been able to point out Missouri on a map. 
Fast-forward about 15 years, and Dugard now says that state — and more specifically Missouri S&T — has helped shape his career and set him on a path for success.

Dugard currently serves as director of corporate strategy for Ford Motor Company, but he says he learned several lessons about perseverance, hard work and the benefit of having a support system before ultimately being hired for this high-ranking position.

Dugard graduated from Missouri S&T in 2014. Photo courtesy of Dugard.

“I was born and raised in New York, and I played football,” says the six-foot-one defensive end. “I realized this was a good avenue to get a college scholarship, and I sent videos to several schools. Missouri S&T ended up making me an offer, and I realized this would be a perfect school for me to study mechanical engineering.” 
Dugard says he grew up “tinkering with things,” and he always knew he wanted to be in a position that would allow him to be creative, use his math skills and have a positive impact on society. 
“That is what made mechanical engineering such a good fit for me,” he says. “It is a field that covers such a broad area. There are so many different places you can go with this type of degree.”  
While at S&T, he had obvious talent on the football field and in his mechanical engineering classes, but it was sometimes a challenge for him to excel in both places at the same time. 
“It was difficult, but engineering programs are always intense” he says. “My GPA would go down during the football season and then go back up after that. Being part of our football team was amazing, but it really was like a full-time job, which meant less time for studies.” 
He says that although it would have been great to have higher grades during the season, he has always tried to see the bigger picture. 
“It’s really easy to be heads-down and miss out on the indirect things that your experiences can teach you,” he says. “So, I tried to remember that I was learning all about resilience and being resourceful during difficult times. 
“These are important lessons for engineers to learn no matter what job they have after graduation.”  
One example of his resourcefulness he recalls is when a professor would occasionally allow students to reference notes or crib sheets they developed for exams. 
“You can fit a lot of information on a crib sheet when you use four-point font,” he says. “You can’t always memorize every single bit of information for an exam, but you can learn different approaches to pull in the right information for the right situation at the right time.” 
He says working part-time for the university’s writing center with Dr. Dan Reardon, who is now S&T’s vice provost of undergraduate education, also played a role in his success. 
“Working in the writing center helped me develop my skills for consulting with people and determining the best ways to meet their needs and personalities,” he says. “This role was more than just helping with essays. People have feelings, and they can be under pressure. This gave me a new depth of empathy that has been beneficial in my professional roles.” 
He says being a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity also helped while he was an S&T student, and it jumpstarted his career. 
“Through the fraternity, I have such a strong network of people who have always been willing to assist and have cheered for my success,” he says. “My first internship at Procter and Gamble came about because of a connection I had with a fraternity brother.” 

After graduating from S&T in December 2014, Dugard has held positions at large companies that allowed him to use a variety of skills he learned in Rolla. 
“When I graduated, I had 8-10 job offers — all because of the internships and experiences I had while at S&T,” he says. “But Ford seemed like the best fit for my values and desires, and I knew I would be part of some awesome projects.” 
From January 2015 until April 2018, he worked for Ford — first as a product development engineer and later as a systems engineer. He fondly recalls being awarded a patent for a roof component he invented for the company to use for its vehicles.  
Then, in 2018, he decided to search for a new position, and he landed at McKinsey and Company as a senior business analyst in May of that year. In December 2020, he was promoted to an engagement manager role. 
“At McKinsey and Company, I consulted with business from several industries, such as aerospace, defense and automotive,” he says. “I found and developed ways to improve their business strategy and operations. But, at the end of the day, it was about striving to help leaders make decisions that could benefit their organization, customers and environment for the greater good.” 
His next career stop came in January 2024 after he heard from a recruiter at Ford. 
“The recruiter saw my past experiences at Ford, as well as my background at McKinsey, and it was a perfect combination for my new position as Ford’s director of corporate strategy,” he says. “I now help the company define the best strategic choices to be successful for the future.  
“The automotive industry is at its biggest inflection point in a long time. We have electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles — lots of futuristic things that are now not only being spoken about but are being implemented. And I get to be on the front lines of this and find the best ways to benefit the company, which will then really benefit society as a whole.” 
He says he is excited to make a difference in this role, and he will always remember that S&T helped set the wheels in motion for this — and it can for current and future S&T students as well. 
“Missouri S&T is a hidden gem of an institution that can provide you with the most career and personal success — if you put into it what you want to get out of it,” he says.  
For more information about Missouri S&T’s mechanical engineering programs, visit

More about Missouri S&T

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit

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