Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class of 2018


Hannah Rose Ford

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: My friends tell me that I radiate sunshine.

Hometown: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have spent more than 13,000 (!) hours in the ballet studio or on stage primarily studying with former American Ballet Theatre principal ballerina Karena Brock-Carlyle.

Undergraduate School and Major: Vanderbilt University, Human and Organizational Development

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: DC Youth Orchestra Program, Director of Development; John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Assistant Manager of National Symphony Orchestra Circles and Major Gifts; John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Assistant Manager of Membership; John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Membership Assistant

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In the summer of 2014, I left my role with one of the most prestigious arts organizations in the world, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, to help a small, community-based non-profit, the DC Youth Orchestra Program, achieve financial stability. Funded primarily by the public school system for the majority of its 55-year history, the organization needed to quickly diversify its revenue in order to keep its doors open following a dramatic cut in funding. While I recognized the risk, I also saw this as a tremendous opportunity to make an impact using the fundraising skills that I had acquired in my time at the Kennedy Center. Within one year, I created and led an organization-wide development strategy that grew contributed income 120%, diversifying revenue sources, allowing the program to operate again in the black, and supporting a growing expense budget for new programs and increased student enrollment.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? If possible, I recommend taking the GMAT early on in your career, as you will have more time to devote to studying. As you start to progress in your career, your work, especially if you are passionate about it, can take over your life! I also recommend taking the GMAT twice (in addition to your practice tests of course)! Everyone is a bit nervous the first time, so that can hurt your score. If you’re not a natural test taker, invest in a GMAT prep class. Mine was worth every penny, but be sure to put in the time and effort to get the biggest bang for your buck!

For your essays, start with a free flow writing brainstorm without worrying about word count – this allows your brain to start thinking. Find a friend or family member who is excellent at editing to read through your initial written brainstorm. Then, redraft and go from there.

Do as many informational interviews with alumni and current students as possible to give you great content for your essays and interviews. Schools want to admit students who want to be there and details you learn during those informational interviews demonstrate that you have done your research. Also, each school has a different personality and this is something you can get to know through those informational interviews.

Applications take a significant amount of time, so try to narrow your applications down to those schools you are very serious about attending. Go for quality not quantity when it comes to applications!

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I chose Duke for a number of reasons fully detailed in my Why Duke? essay. To summarize, should you not wish to read my 979 word essay, I chose Duke because of its genuine focus on building leaders of consequence. I found this to be evidenced in the unique opportunities it offered students through the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship and the fact that Net Impact was the largest club on campus.

When it came down to deciding between Fuqua and another top tier program, I ultimately chose Fuqua because of the people. Fuquans are incredibly genuine, good, and kind people. Why not surround yourself with brilliant people who want to positively impact the world and are going to be kind to you at the same time? Fuquans were also always willing to give me time – whenever I reached out to a Fuquan, they offered to speak for at least an hour and then to connect me with others. This I found to be unique as folks from other competitive programs offered me 15 minutes.

I also LOVE Durham! Great food, great people, great Mysore yoga, and NO TRAFFIC!

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? My dream job is to be the executive director of a classical ballet company. Art has the incredible power of bringing people from a variety of backgrounds together for a common purpose, but the arts world is in desperate need of a sustainable business model that will enable it to survive and thrive in the 21st century. Post b-school, my goal is to work in management consulting so that I can hone my strategic problem solving skills and be exposed to a variety of business models. 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.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? Wow! That is a big question, and I have lots of answers. Most importantly, though, I would love for my peers to say that I truly represented 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. I must admit that after math camp, I was recognized as the girl who asks the questions that everyone else is too afraid to ask. I was relieved to hear from my peers that that was greatly appreciated – two even said, I hope that you are in my section so that I can hear your questions!

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