Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class of 2018


Manuel Costa

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Dedicated volunteer. Learning husband. Now an MBA candidate. Deteriorating but keen sportsman.

Hometown: Bernal, Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Fun Fact About Yourself: I play cricket (not croquet). A lot of it. Coming from Argentina that is not only rare, but slightly dangerous (we are soccer mad!). I was also lucky enough to represent Argentina National Team in the 2013 ICC Americas Cup Division II held in Nassau, Bahamas.                                                                                                                                              

Undergraduate School and Major: Loughborough University (UK), BSc Management Science.

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: KPMG, Consultant for the Risk Advisory Services department (2007-2008). Paradigma (Argentinian Consulting firm), Consultant for Strategy and Process re-engineering department (2009-2010). TECHO (Latin American non-profit that seeks to eradicate poverty operating in 22 countries), Supply Chain Leader for Argentina (2010 to 2012), Latin American Director of Construction Projects (2013 to 2014) and most recently as Regional Director for the Southern Cone (that is Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – 2014 to 2016).

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was tasked to create an aggressive vendor diversification strategy to keep costs of our emergency housing program below annual inflation (estimated at 30%) – our only emergency housing supplier at the time had filed for Chapter XI and announced he was doubling the price of the product.

Within three months, my team and I managed to have 3 operating suppliers, including the one that had filed for Chapter XI. The diversification saved an estimated U$D 300,000 over a 2-year period (2011-2012). That strategy ended with the start-ups of social housing factories, first in Argentina, then later in Colombia and most recently a second one in Argentina. These factories save over U$D 200,000 annually (2014) and employ more than 16 workers from marginal settlements.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? Never surrender. But, identify each step and don’t worry about the timing (at first). What I mean is once you’ve identified an MBA is your next move, don’t put too much stress about WHEN to do it. Recognize what you need to do in order to go where you want to go (research all schools, meet past and present students, understand their profiles, the GMAT requirements, etc.) and start ticking boxes.

Did I mention not to worry about time? Do the GMAT as many times as you need. Take on different and new challenges at work, with your community or sporting-wise (hopefully all of them, and hopefully not all at once!). In the long run, 1 or 2 years is marginal. Making the effort will pay dividends and you won’t ask yourself “what would’ve happened if…”

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? People. I would be lying if I didn’t mention ranking, tuition, program, culture and location. But these are all conditions that my wife and I agreed upon and that, incredibly enough, were quite flexible.

Going back to school is a social phenomenon. Like most things in life, the main experience is the constant interaction with people.

In all the chats, skypes and e-mails my wife and I had with current students, graduates, staff or folks in Durham, we found one constant: caring and easy going individuals genuinely concerned in getting to know you or help you. So I would say the Fuqua community led us to the final choice.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? I would love to join a large B-corp like Patagonia or Natura. I want to learn and contribute to the DNA of an organization that has been built around the idea that businesses are so much more than bottom lines.

Organizations should constantly challenge themselves to improve the life of others, their employees and the communities in which they operate. After gaining that experience I would love to take that into other corporations that are eager to make that leap, all whilst volunteering at local non-profit organizations that also seek to help organizations make that same realization.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? That I pushed them to think about the impact decisions in meetings, boardrooms and everyday life has on others.

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