President, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company
Knox College Trustee
From the Fall 2008 issue of Knox Magazine.
Dushan "Duke" Petrovich left his hometown of Chicago for the first time to attend Knox. It was a short but important trip.
"Knox is a small school that prepares you to compete in a big world," says Petrovich, who today is one of the top global executives at the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company.
The son of parents who had recently immigrated to Chicago from the former Yugoslavia, Petrovich entered Knox in 1970 when he was barely 17 years old. And Knox was the perfect fit.
He thrived in the Knox culture, with bright, motivated classmates and a faculty dedicated to helping students succeed. "I became familiar with the campus and found that the faculty and students didn't really care where you came from. They embraced me," he says.
Petrovich became a member of Phi Gamma Delta and connected with his professors, including Wilbur Pillsbury and Alvin White.
He says Knox taught him to communicate clearly, to think strategically, and to understand how treating people with trust, dignity, and respect is an important part of success in business and in life. "Knox delivered everything that I thought a small liberal arts school would deliver," says Petrovich, who has committed his work as a trustee to embracing and enhancing what makes the Knox culture special.
Soon after graduating from Knox with a bachelor's degree in economics, Petrovich joined Wrigley as an accountant in the company's finance department. Today, he is senior vice president and chief administrative officer of the global gum and confectionery leader. He oversees many of Wrigley's vital functions, including people, learning and development (the name Petrovich created for Wrigley's human resources function), global procurement, global supply chain, global real estate, information technology, and corporate communications.
In fact, approximately half of Wrigley's 15,000 associates worldwide currently report into one of the functions under his leadership.
His newest role is supporting Wrigley's pending merger with Mars, Incorporated. "You plan your whole working life for a moment like this, and Knox prepared me for it," says Petrovich.
Seeing Knox's impact on current students is, for Petrovich, one of the most enjoyable parts of being a trustee. "I always tell people that I don't worry about the future," he says. "Looking at today's students gives me great confidence in the leaders of tomorrow."
Petrovich readily admits he is living the American dream. "My parents came to America for democracy and to make a better life for their children," he says. "Having me attend Knox was part of their dream. That, and the people I met and the lessons I learned, are the reasons why Knox holds such a special place in my heart. It's been a great journey."