Meet The Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2017

Shakira Chanrai Revised

Shakira Chanrai 

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business 

Hometown: London, United Kingdom

Undergraduate School and Major: London School of Economics, Majored in Political Science

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

  1. Marketing Associate, Fidelity Investments
  2. Co-founder, Grappled (my own start-up)

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE?  If you are not happy with the first score you achieve, don’t be afraid to re-take the exam. In fact, it is an excellent way to demonstrate dedication and tenacity! A lot of applicants end up taking the GMAT/GRE multiple times, so you definitely won’t be alone.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? When choosing your list of business schools, don’t downplay the importance of culture. It’s relatively easy to draw up a list of schools based on location and ranking, but it’s also important to choose schools that have the right culture for you. This information can be gleaned via campus visits or, if that is not feasible for you (it wasn’t for me), by speaking to current students and alumni over the phone. I reached out to current students at a number of different schools and the responses I received were overwhelmingly positive. The information I took away from each call really helped construct my final list of schools.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? Start early. Each business school application has a large number of moving parts and you need to make sure you stay on top of each component. Each essay requires a great deal of thought and effort, so it would definitely help you to start early and let the ideas simmer in your head for a while. Also, the essays are a wonderful way to differentiate yourself; use this opportunity to dig deep and show admissions who you really are. In a similar vein, recommenders need to be briefed well in advance – I asked my bosses to write my letters for me four months before the deadline.

If you get to the interview stage, you’ve done well. Most of the interviews I had were conducted in London by alumni. Each one was a great opportunity to learn more about the culture of that school and demonstrate how I would be a good fit.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I applied to Fuqua for a number of reasons: Its location and campus atmosphere,  academic standing, and the strength of the careers service particularly in the industry I am recruiting for (tech). I had also spoken to a few current students and had been amazed at each person’s unwavering love of Fuqua and the MBA program.

However, what really did it for me was actually visiting schools once I had received admissions decisions. In April, I flew from London to attend Blue Devil Weekend: A jam-packed two-day insight into life at, and after, Fuqua. I fell in love with everything about Duke – especially the people, many of whom are now my good friends. Oh, and it helped that Duke had won the NCAA National Championships the week before so the atmosphere on campus was absolutely electric.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I would like to throw myself into a number of leadership roles so that I can refine my skills before I re-enter the working world. Fuqua offers tremendous opportunities to do so, including (but not limited to) joining the section cabinet, taking up a role in the organizational committee of a club, and running a class trip. In fact, I have already started on a less formal basis; I recently organized a tennis tournament for 30 of my classmates and am currently co-organizing a trip to Asheville to run a famous half-marathon in November with 40 classmates. 

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