2017 MBAs To Watch: David Gross, Duke (Fuqua)

David Gross

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

“Iowa evangelist, baseball guru, and geography nerd.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

Fun fact about yourself: I majored in Geography

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Northwestern University, 2010

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

  • Walgreens Corporation: Market Manager, Market Strategy
  • Target Corporation: Project Lead, Target India Central Team

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Nelson Construction & Development, MBA Intern, Des Moines, IA

Where will you be working after graduation? Nelson Construction & Development, Chief Operating Officer

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-founder, Fuqua Refugee Sponsorship Team
  • McGowan Fellow
  • Founder, Fuqua Peer Advisors
  • Fuqua Section 2 Representative
  • MBA Association First Year-Second Year Liaison
  • Coach K. Center on Leadership & Ethics Fellow
  • Fuqua Financial Planning Forum Co-founder
  • Emily Krzyzewski Center Tutor
  • Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum
  • FuquaVision Skit Producer
  • Merit Scholarship Award Winner
  • Team Fuqua Values Impactful Stewardship award

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Fuqua Refugee Sponsorship Team.

I formed a team of 9 Fuqua students and partners to sponsor a refugee family from Syria. We raised $3,800 to pay for rent, utilities, and apartment furnishings. The family was initially blocked by the executive order but finally arrived in February after the ban was halted. We are now helping the family get adjusted to life in Durham. I am proud of what our team has done to take positive action on a controversial issue.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Relationship with Walgreens’ Ohio Market Vice President

The Ohio Market VP was my top client during my time in Walgreens’ Market Strategy department. In my first meeting with the VP, he said my department did not add value to the company. Through two years of work, I convinced him otherwise by providing unsolicited reports on competitors and forming close relationship with his direct reports. Before I left Walgreens, he wrote an email to my director telling him I had proven our value. Relationship building has been the common thread of my professional accomplishments, and my success with the VP exemplifies my ability to build strong relationships through mutual understanding.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? John Graham, Corporate Finance

Professor Graham teaches Corporate Finance in a way that is understandable to students from all backgrounds. Despite his professional successes, he is extremely humble and approachable. These characteristics make him a great example of Team Fuqua.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Operations, Professor Kevin Shang. Though finance, strategy, and marketing tell a story, operations is how you make money.  

Why did you choose this business school? I visited Fuqua for an admitted students’ weekend in February 2015. The personal warmth of students and the administration won me over. I recognized Fuqua as an institution that people actually cared about – not just a jobs or academic factory.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? My first year team: I have teammates from India, China, Mexico, and Argentina. We became so close that we all flew to Iowa for a farm weekend in September 2016.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? Fuqua is truly student-run. It is amazing what students are capable of when they are passionate and surrounded by great people. Every week there is a student-run conference here that delivers meaningful content.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Forget what you think admissions folks want you to say. Be yourself and focus on experiences working with teams.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Durham is lame. Durham and the Triangle have all the big city amenities, and you have the chance to feel truly connected to a community in two years. That is tough to do in a massive city.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Taking primarily finance classes. I think I missed an opportunity to learn from some of the best professors and with students with different interests.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire?

Enael Garrido: My first year teammate and best friend at Fuqua. Enael pushes me to always excel in whatever I’m doing. He also makes me reflect on what’s important to me at school. I know we will be lifelong friends.

Alejandra Rossi: The warmest human I have ever met. Ale and I started the Fuqua Refugee Sponsorship team together. She is the person I go to if I need to talk about leadership or gain some perspective.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when I met Fuquans for the first time.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be climbing the corporate ladder somewhere, without much passion.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Start the on-campus recruiting process later in the year to give students time to settle in to business school life.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Governor of Iowa

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Neena Vasavan. My girlfriend Neena believes in me, but more importantly, she tells me when I need to slow down. She has been the best partner during my time at Fuqua.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Dave was part of making Fuqua the best business school in the world.  

Favorite book: River of Doubt

Favorite movie or television show: Seinfeld

Favorite musical performer: Jay-Z

Favorite vacation spot: Northern Michigan

What made David such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Dave Gross stands out in the class by having consistently contributed to Fuqua from Orientation through today. While Dave has served in a number of more formal leadership positions, including as a section representative and leadership fellow, it has been his informal leadership that has differentiated him. Dave is a “glue” guy, who brings others together and provides the basis for others to interact and benefit from spending time together.

One example is an initiative Dave led to foster stronger ties between the first year and second year students. Dave recognized power and potential that our culture provides to shape the student experience and identified a way to further strengthen and enhance the culture.  Through a series of inclusive events where students were able to organically interact in support classmates, Dave helped provide a platform for students to interact more broadly and better appreciate the diversity at the school.

Dave is recognized within the school as being very selfless and donated the most valuable commodity to students, his time, to enhance others’ experiences. One reflection of this is captured in a classmate’s nomination of Dave for a student award:

“… One quick example of this is how he volunteered to prep non-native English speakers for behavioral interviews along with multiple others from our section, during a time when we were all very busy with recruiting ourselves.”

Russ Morgan

Senior Associate Dean, Full-Time Programs