Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class of 2018

Members of the Class of 2018 at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Members of the Class of 2018 at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

At Duke, Mike Krzyzewski consistently fields winning men’s basketball teams. That’s not by accident. It starts with recruiting talent — not always blue chips, but players who are coachable and committed. He sets a high bar both on and off the court, understanding excellence in one carries over to the other. A stickler for fundamentals, Krzyzewski’s practices are a practicum on poise, precision, and cohesion, the three-prong path through the pressure and adversity. In his heart, Krzyzewski is a teacher who takes the time to learn what makes his players tick, so he can shepherd each into the Blue Devils’ culture of we, our, and us. In the process, he has collected 1,043 victories and five NCAA national championships at Duke.


The Fuqua School of Business has also hoisted a national championship (of sorts). In 2014, Fuqua ranked as the top full-time MBA program according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Like their basketball brethren, the school has set itself apart by their concept of team —Team Fuqua to be exact. Many programs talk about a culture of inclusion and teamwork, but few bring it to life like Fuqua. In this community, students prize loyalty, integrity, stewardship, diversity, supportiveness, and engagement. They believe the class is stronger together than apart. Like Krzyzewski, they aren’t afraid to provide frank feedback to classmates — always done in a spirit of kinship.

“Team Fuqua isn’t just a catch phrase we use to market the program,” says Liz Riley Hargrove, associate dean of admissions. “It’s the way the faculty, staff and students work. It’s collaborative at its best. In the world we live in today, it’s the most productive way to get work done. It means we will do what we can to get the work done and make the team better. It’s how we live in our community day in and day out. Team Fuqua is what makes tackling all the work possible.”

Hargrove passes along one anecdote about Team Fuqua in action. “A student who had to take an exam had forgotten his scientific calculator in his dorm room,” she says. “He went into the hallway and wanted to find out how long it would take for another student to lend him a calculator. It took him 13.5 second to find someone.” The Team Fuqua difference is even more pronounced in the hiring process explains Sheryle Dirks, associate dean of career management. “You would inherently think that if there is a place it would fall apart, it’s the competition for jobs. But you see students passing on their collective insight to others all the time as soon as they come out of an interview and see their classmates waiting to go in next.” That’s the Team Fuqua philosophy in a nutshell. “It’s the sense that I won’t do anything to advance my own career if it is at someone else’s expense,” Riley Hargrove adds.

Liz Riley Hargrove, associate dean of admissions, Duke University Fuqua School

Liz Riley Hargrove, associate dean of admissions, Duke University Fuqua School


This culture also fosters graduates who appeal to employers, as evidenced by the 2015 Class enjoying a $9,000 bump in base salary to $120,000. Dean Bill Boulding recently relayed to P&Q a conversation he had with a leading employer that conducted team-based interviews.  At some schools, the employer explained, the students would try to shine the spotlight on themselves. In contrast, the Fuqua students chose to maximize the team’s strengths. “They would always enter the activity by asking team members what strengths they brought to the effort and then they tried to bring out the strengths of the people around them. It was the Fuqua student who stood out the most.”

For Shashank Maheshwari, a first year who transitioned from being an entrepreneur to working at a Fortune 100, the “close-knit” culture of Team Fuqua was the impetus for moving from India to Durham, North Carolina. “As soon as I talked with people from Fuqua, I felt right at home. Surrounded by these smart and nice classmates, I feel more confident to achieve my goal. I can already see a two-year happy life ahead of me.”

Maheshwari is among an electrifying new class of Team Fuqua recruits. The Class of 2018 features students from every corner of globe, including Mombasa, Kenya, Xinxiang, China, and Bozeman, Montana.  They’ve studied at Harvard, Stanford, Notre Dame, and the U.S. Naval Academy and include chemical engineers, investment bankers, and non-profit directors. In true Team Fuqua Style, it is who these students are that will ultimately determine their legacy. Based on early returns, this is already a class of fun-loving doers with long track records of success.


Hannah Rose Ford, a native of Hilton Head Island, pursued ballet over golf, eventually spending over 13,000 hours in the studio or on stage studying under American Ballet Theatre principal ballerina Karena Brock-Carlyle. Sofia Rodriguez has scuba dived with hammer and bull sharks, while Tyler Clark climbed three volcanoes in Guatemala (including an active one). Not to be outdone, Angela Tenney, who describes herself as a “bubbly, confident nerd with a penchant for lists, puns, and trivia,” is plowing through her ‘30 Things To Do Before Turning 30’ list. “I’ve been pretty diligent about seeing all the way through,” she says. “Highlights so far have been visiting all 6 major continents (sorry, Antarctica), climbing Half Dome in Yosemite to watch the sunrise, and being at Fenway for the Red Sox’s World Series-clinching win in 2013!”

It gets even better. Maria Githua has been interviewed twice on Kenyan national television, while Alexander Kovacevic has been honored as the ‘Best Dressed Man’ in the UK toy industry for the past two years. Lloyd Grant Patterson, a TOPGUN graduate, won the Cannonball Run pie eating contest and claims to be down to a “one-pie-a-day diet” (How did he fit into a cockpit?). Manuel Costa, “a deteriorating but keen sportsman,” represented the Argentine National Team in cricket. Kevin Kumlien even had a near brush with Duke royalty when he was accepted into West Point.My Dad told a family friend who mentioned it to Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and Coach K sent me a personal congratulatory e-mail. Not knowing what my dad had done, I never read the email and deleted it thinking that it was a virus.”


The Fuqua is certainly excited about the incoming full-time class. “I expect nothing less than greatness from the Duke MBA Class of 2018,” Riley Hargrove tells P&Q. “It wasn’t easy to make it into this group. We received the most applications in the history of our school for this class! This group is one of our most selective, and certainly one of our most promising in terms of its leadership potential.”

Fuqua Interior

Fuqua Interior

Such lofty expectations aren’t surprising considering their pedigree. Ford, for example, left the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to keep the DC Youth Orchestra Program out of the red after it experienced a major cut in public funding. In just a year, she led a 120% rise in funds that enabled the program to expand. Similarly, Rodriguez created a startup where a portion of the revenue pays for water filters. This has resulted in her venture “donating over 100 years’ worth of clean water to Guatemalan schoolchildren.” Jennifer Ntiri followed a similar path, becoming heavily involved in the TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation. “I was able to help secure funding for the Facilitate Network Empower Organization’s exponential expansion of impact within rural Nicaragua. We funded programs designed to boost leadership, entrepreneurship, and collaboration skills via the administration of over 40 home micro-loan programs, 45 merit-based full college tuition scholarships, and 12 community projects.”

At the opposite end, Patterson had to switch from the Afghan theater to “designing [a] training plan and preparing our pilots for new tactics and weapons” against ISIS. However, it was outside the battlefield where Kumlien, a budget officer and company officer, made his biggest impact. “God put me in the right place at the right time to be able to intervene with a fellow soldier and to help talk him down from potentially taking his life. By far, the most rewarding letter I have ever received was the one that came from him a year later thanking me for helping him to still be there for his wife and kids.”


By the numbers, the Class of 2018 maintains the high standards of previous classes. Applications rose from 3.454 to 3,737, a testament to the school’s enduring appeal. Ultimately, Fuqua accepted 827 applicants and enrolled 446 students (an uptick from 2015-2017, where the classes each numbered 437 members). This represents a 22% acceptance rate, down 1% from the 2017 class and roughly equivalent to this year’s rates at the University of Chicago (Booth) and NYU (Stern).

Academically, the incoming class enters the Fox Center with a 695 average GMAT (down one point) and an undergraduate GPAT of 3.47 (up .07 of a point). On one hand, the percentage of women slipped from 36% to 35%. However, that was made up by a climb in the percentage of international students from 38% to 40% in the incoming class. Overall, the class features students from 44 countries, a big jump from the 37 countries represented in the previous class.

Go to next page to see profiles of 12 incoming Fuqua students.

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