Young Alumni Spotlight: Caroline Furse

Caroline Furse (MBA ’12) had spent her entire working adult life in the Navy. But when she thought about the best way to transition into a career in the civilian sector, she started to look for MBA programs that could assist her transition and help her recognize strengths she could transition into her future profession. While living in Jacksonville and reflecting on her seven years in the Navy, the University of Florida MBA program was the perfect bridge.

It empowered her with the business skills to stay in the aviation industry, which Furse used in a career in operations at Amazon before today serving as Flight Training Supervisor at UPS.

“I had a second “what do I want to be when I grow up?” moment,” Furse said of her time before leaving the Navy. “I looked at different jobs and couldn’t define what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work for a company with a good reputation and strong intrinsic values.”

After years of training Navy pilots to fly helicopters, Furse now finds herself with similar responsibilities training pilots on the industry’s largest airplanes at UPS. But she’s also leading the charge with much smaller but just as complex aircraft – drones.

As part of the UPS Flight Forward initiative, Furse has played an integral role in the company’s development of its drone airline. In September 2019, UPS received the first ever Part 135 Standard certificate to operate a drone airline. Today, they continue to progress and strengthen the drone airline.

It started with a campus of hospital buildings in North Carolina. A smaller lab on the campus was using a medical courier service every 2-3 hours to transport samples two blocks up the road to the main lab. UPS Flight Forward got involved with their Matternet M2 drones and now flies samples on the same route every hour, helping the hospital to get results faster, keeping the labs from getting bogged down and reducing the hospital’s environmental footprint.

The drones are also running in two other places. Another North Carolina hospital is using it in a similar fashion, and a CVS drugstore in The Villages, Fla., a retirement community south of Ocala, is using drones to deliver prescriptions to patients.

“We’re continuing to work with the USDOT and FAA to make this more viable,” Furse said. “They’re analyzing the safety, privacy and data to ensure that the drones are running as efficiently and safely as possible.”

The next step in drone delivery technology could be with UPS package deliveries. Furse said the company has tested attaching a drone on top of a package car in rural areas to make deliveries more efficient. When drivers need to go miles down a rural road to make one delivery, drivers are less efficient and spend time going out of their way.

New technology is allowing UPS drivers to secure the package in a drone on top of the delivery vehicle and have it fly to the delivery address while the vehicle continues to make other deliveries. The drone and vehicle would later have a meet up point where they would move to their next destination.

“The rural deliveries are a big focus for us, but it will continue to expand with hospitals and could even transition to colleges or other places that have large campuses,” Furse said.

Furse developed an eye for innovation and strategy during her time with the Navy, but her time in the UF MBA program opened her eyes to new passions and strengths she could take into the civilian sector.

“It gave me a bridge to non-military world,” Furse said. “I loved that the courses I took were all with other working professionals who brought industry experience to class. I was able to see and experience what other people did every day. As nerdy as it sounds, there have been several points in my job where I look back and say, ‘oh I know about this from my MBA classes.’”