2016 Best MBAs: Reginald Benbow, Duke Fuqua

Reginald Benbow

Reginald Benbow


Duke University, the Fuqua School of Business

“I thought that business school was going to be transactional, that I would not change much, and that it was only for career advancement. I am surprised by how much I have grown personally, as a leader, and how my world orientation has expanded.”

Age: 26

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland


  • A., University of Virginia, double majors in Political & Social Thought and African American & African Studies, minor in Middle Eastern Arabic
  • S., Johns Hopkins University, Urban Education

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Teach For America, corps member | Baltimore City Public Schools, Middle School Educator

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? General Mills, Minneapolis, MN

Where will you be working after graduation? TBD – Weighing Offers

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School

  • Co-President, Black & Latino MBA Organization (2015-2016)
  • Coach K – Center on Leadership & Ethics Fellow, and Fellowship Diversity Chair (2015-2016)
  • Fuqua on Board Fellow | Ex-officio non-profit board member (2014-2015)
  • Treasurer, Black Graduate & Professional Student Association (2014-2015)
  • Dean’s Working Group on Diversity, member
  • Section 2 Service Chair (2014-2015)
  • Executive Director, Black & Latino MBA Organization (2014-2015)
  • Teaching Assistant/Tutor (2015)
  • Managerial Economics
  • Management Communications
  • Julian Abele Student of the Year Award (2016)
  • The Lagrant Foundation Scholarship (2015)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As I entered business school in August 2014, Michael Brown laid slain by a Ferguson cop. Time passed, protests grew, other incidents arose, “black lives matter” became a rallying cry, and on April 1, a noose was found hanging from a tree on Duke’s campus.

Many in the Fuqua and broader Duke communities were floored by this hateful act that ripped the band-aid off of unspoken campus racial issues. This moment demanded attention and action. As co-president of the Black & Latino MBA Organization and a concerned community member, I organized a day of solidarity for Fuqua students to wear Duke Blue in a show of unity against hatred and fear. One-quarter of the nearly 900 daytime MBA students participated. I then organized an event, “dialogues on diversity,” to discuss race, gender, sexual orientation differences/biases, microaggressions and how these manifest themselves at Fuqua. I then took proactive steps to continue diversity conversations and improve cultural competency among Fuqua students. I formed a working group on diversity with Dean Bill Boulding and a small group of students. Through the working group, we have initiated institutional efforts to improve cultural competence at Fuqua, from surveying students to identify knowledge gaps to mandating a lecture on diversity competence as part of the first year experience. My actions will ensure that Fuqua lives up to its core value of “collective diversity” and produces students who are better equipped to lead across difference.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I influenced the lives of over 250 students as a 6th and 7th grade science teacher in Baltimore (and Teach For America corps member), providing excellent instruction to all, and leading my students to exceptional mastery of state standards. My impact extended beyond my classroom. I started my school’s gay-straight alliance, combating bullying and homophobia, to create an inclusive and positive school environment.

Who is your favorite professor? Unlike most business school students, I am a former educator and earned a master’s degree in education. Therefore, I am equipped to recognize (and appreciate) excellent teaching, and I know what it is like to be an instructor. Kim Wade-Benzoni has distinguished herself as my favorite professor. It is clear that Kim prepares exceptionally for every class. She well manages classroom discussion and provides students with thorough and constructive feedback – no easy feat. This led me to take two classes with her, Power & Politics and Negotiations.

Favorite MBA Courses? Power & Politics, Negotiations and Decision Models rank as my favorite MBA courses. Decision Models, notoriously the most difficult statistics course at Fuqua, challenged me and boosted my quantitative analysis skills. Negotiations, perhaps the most engaging and fun Fuqua course, as it often involves much acting, perfected my ability to have “courageous conversations.” Power & Politics, about how to gain and use power, is the most useful and applicable course of all time.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Fuqua for three primary reasons. First, its reputation and programs in social entrepreneurship, hosted by the school’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship. Second, the international orientation of the school, from the student body composition to the abundant international programs. Third, the sense of collegiality that pervades the school as experienced during my visit – ‘Team Fuqua’ is real.

What did you enjoy most about business school? As with anything, the people make or break an experience. I have most enjoyed building and sustaining new relationships with classmates, professors, administrators and alumni.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? In the end, I learned much about others. However, I have learned the most about myself. In particular, I learned the importance of fortitude, and reaffirmed that I am a very strong person, as the experience (particularly the first year) stretched me.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I thought that business school was going to be transactional, that I would not change much, and that it was only for career advancement. I am surprised by how much I have grown personally, as a leader, and how my world orientation has expanded.

What was the hardest part of business school?  Balancing (or finding your own personal ‘balance’) for the competing priorities of academics, professional recruiting, and personal life.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Reflect deeply on what you seek from your business school experience prior to entering, and to thine own self be true.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I met Lloyd Blankfein as a Goldman Sachs intern.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…principal of a school most likely.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Tristan Walker, founder of Bevel and CEO of Walker & Company Brands. The most high profile black start up founder, Walker is my hero. I also aim to innovate within a legacy industry, just as Walker is innovating within the health and beauty space.

What are your long-term professional goals? I want to combat food injustice by launching fresh-focused grocery stores in food desert neighborhoods.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mother, Marcia Herbert. A single mother with only a high school diploma, she raised me to be good person. She took me to the library when I was young, encouraged my creativity, and told me to reach for the stars. We sometimes struggled, but through adversity I built character. Her sacrifices enabled me to succeed and eventually become the first person in my family to graduate from college, and now earn two master’s degrees.

Fun fact about yourself: I have an ear tag.

Favorite book: The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Favorite movie: Star Trek

Favorite musical performer: The Temptations

Favorite television show:

Current: Empire

All time: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Favorite vacation spot:

Urban: Paris

Relaxation: Jamaica

What made Reggie such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Reggie Benbow is the type of leader who seems to consistently pop up and provide leadership everywhere at Fuqua. He is a COLE (Center on Leadership and Ethics) Fellow and a co-president of multiple clubs. One of the ways Reggie has left us better is through his help in guiding us to better recognize and leverage our diversity as a member of one of our task forces. In response to some behaviors on the broader Duke campus, Reggie and others led sessions with students and administration to help us better understand the climate for inclusiveness and also provide behavioral actions for all members of our community to take. For me, those activities and others organized by Reggie demonstrate the hallmark of Reggie’s leadership – he takes initiative. While many people wait for others to take action, Reggie takes initiative, provides leadership, and is a positive partner around joint student-administration activities.

Another theme in the leadership I have seen from Reggie is his commitment to education.  Prior to Fuqua, Reggie was with Teach for America and then received a Masters Degree in Education. While at Fuqua, Reggie has served on the nonprofit board for the Durham Nativity School, an organization he specifically sought to work with in order to give back to marginalized populations in the area of education. This passion for education is impressive in itself, but all the more impressive when recognizing that Reggie is the first in his family to go to college.” — Russ Morgan, Associate Dean, The Duke MBA – Daytime and Master of Management Studies, Professor of the Practice of Marketing, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business


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