Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class of 2018

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Looking at the class’ undergraduate majors, engineering and natural sciences majors account for nearly a third of the class at 32% — the same percentage as the 2016 Class. They are followed by business and accounting (29%), liberal arts (23%), and economics (15%), all comparable to their 2016 totals. While the class is composed of a wide swath of nationalities, it also boasts students from nearly every conceivable industry. Consulting and financial services professionals comprise the largest blocs of the class at just 19% each. Other industries represented include healthcare (7%), non-profits and education (7%), government (6%), and energy (5%).


Like many MBA programs, transformation is the oxygen in Fuqua’s DNA. “One of our objectives in admissions is to make sure we are bringing in classes that foster the type of diverse environment that is critical to learning the power found in difference,” says Riley Hargrove. “We expect they will learn a lot from each other! I am excited to watch the individual transformations that will occur in this class during the next two years, but I’m even more excited to observe how they will then transform businesses, communities and the world.”

The transformative nature of the Team Fuqua experience is embedded in every aspect of the program.

“We’ve made a particular bet,” explains Dean Boulding. “The idea of the leader as a hero is gone. We made a bet that a great team of different people will always beat a great individual.” This particular type of leadership, of knowing when to step forward and when to contribute, ranks among Fuqua’s biggest assets. It doesn’t hurt that Fuqua leadership is often expressed through an openness and sense of larger purpose —or as “leaders of consequence” in Ford’s words.

This road to being consequential comes with several amusing pits tops at Fuqua, however. Daytime orientation, for example, is more like fun time, with overviews of academics and the honor code broken up by pep rallies, goofy section Olympic competitions (think knapsack races and dance contests) and scavenger hunts. That doesn’t include themed-parties, such as nerds and the 80s, closing out each day’s festivities. Plus, students get Wednesdays off, not Fridays, giving them a free day to bond around Durham and beyond.

Duke fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium

Duke fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium

Of course, the Class of 2018 knows exactly what they are getting into by joining Team Fuqua, says Tenney. “What solidified Fuqua as my top choice was its culture. Stories from current students described a program in which people don’t take themselves too seriously (my interviewer said she had to stand up and do a song or dance when she sat in on a class), and in which there was a huge emphasis on collaborating with your classmates rather than competing with them. I learn best in environments where you’re allowed to make mistakes, and Fuqua’s approach – don’t stress too much about mistakes, and support those around you when they do – really stuck out in the competitive business school world.”


Fuqua’s varied academic strengths are another attraction. It ranks among the premier schools in international business, with students able to gain real world experience overseas as part of the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP) and the Global Academic Travel Experience (GATE). Another is the school’s health program, with 8% of the 2015 full-time class landing work in the field (where salary and sign on bonus topped out at $150,000 and $25,000 respectively for 2015 graduates). For Tenney, Fuqua’s distinction in the energy industry swayed her to enroll there. “Fuqua’s energy sector resources (particular EDGE, its Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment) examine both traditional and renewable fuels and how the two industries interact and compete, taking a comprehensive view of the entire global energy profile rather than focusing primarily on one industry.”

The program has also increasingly emerged as a big name in social impact. This investment differentiated it from similar programs to Clark. “One of the specific reasons that I chose Fuqua is the Center for the Advancement of Social Enterprise (CASE). I have enjoyed working in impact investing for the past two years and Fuqua is doing great, meaningful work in this area. Some of the other business schools I looked at didn’t have much more than a website with a few high-level summaries about impact investing.  Fuqua has classes, consulting and research opportunities, plus great industry connections that help students become actively involved in this space.”

If that wasn’t enough, the class also gushed about Durham, North Carolina, with its low rents (roughly $700 a month within a mile of campus), moderate climate (50 degrees in the wintertime), and proximity to the proximity to high-paying, high tech opportunities at the nearby Research Triangle Park. Patterson describes the city as the “epitome of southern hospitality, North Carolinian BBQ and college basketball,” with Ford chiming in about the “great food, great people, great Mysore yoga, and NO TRAFFIC! “ For Kumlien, Durham represented the total package. “When you add together an unreal local food and craft brewery scene, pristine golf courses, outdoor trails for biking and hiking, national championship caliber sports teams, and a business school with a world class education focused on creating leaders with a global impact, I only had three words to say when deciding on my MBA program…Let’s Go Duke.”


Expectations are high for the Class of 2018, with Riley Hargrove reiterating that she sees in it the kinds of leaders who can build bridges and solve the world’s toughest challenges. However, no one has higher expectations for the class than the students themselves.

Dean WIlliam Boulding

Dean WIlliam Boulding

Tenney, for one, plans to take on global warming from a different angle: working as venture capitalist specializing in renewables. “[This] would allow me to continue learning about what new ideas people are developing, leverage both my experience in energy and my business degree to determine the strongest contenders, and provide funding and support for those most likely to have a significant impact on the world.”

Ford plans to take the tools she gains at Fuqua and apply them to running a classical ballet company. “The arts world is in desperate need of a sustainable business model that will enable it to survive and thrive in the 21st century,” she explains. “After several years in consulting, I plan to return to the arts world where I can partner with artists and donors alike to build a business model grounded in community engagement, the intersection of technology and art, and the creation of new work that speaks to political, cultural, and economic issues of the day.”

Kumlien will be returning to service after graduation, teaching business management at West Point. However, he hopes to eventually pursue his dream of becoming an athletic director. “That is one of the main reasons I came to Duke. I have a great respect for Coach K and the entire Duke Athletics program and I look forward to taking some of the principles that have made the Blue Devils so successful and implementing them in my future career.”


As the Class of 2018 looks ahead to their post-MBA careers, each has hopes for how they’ll be remembered.  Xiaoxiao Lou, a PwC consultant who can “do karaoke for a whole hour, non-stop,” would like to be seen as a “valuable teammate, a good opinion leader, and a reliable friend.” Kovacevic is seeking a lasting impact, “such as a new club or creating a new tradition – something that can endure long after I leave the school.” For Rodriguez, a fine legacy would be classmates saying that she was “always available and willing to help, knew how to lead teams and accomplish goals together, and was fun to be with!”

Most of all, like Ford, the incoming class want their peers to recall how they personified the values of Team Fuqua — “someone who cares about those around them and is willing and wanting to work collaboratively to help us solve today’s greatest challenges.”


To read profiles of incoming Fuqua students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.

Tyler Clark / Fairax Station, VA

Manuel Costa / Buenos Aires, Argentina

Hannah Rose Ford / Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Maria Githua / Mombasa, Kenya

Alexander Kovacevic / Bedford, Bedfordshire UK

Kevin Kumlien / Bozeman, MT

Xiaoxiao Lou / Xinxiang, Henan, China

Shashank Maheshwari / New Delhi, India

Jennifer Ntiri / Northport, NY

Lloyd Grant Patterson / Pensacola, FL

Sofia Rodriguez / Guatemala City, Guatemala

Angela Tenney / Andover, MA

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