Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class Of 2019

Julio Zambrano

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I’m like the Mexican wine country: understated, surprising, innovative, and on the rise.   

Hometown:  San Clemente, California

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I am writing and illustrating a graphic novel about the future rise of the Great Lakes Region.

Undergraduate School and Major: 

University of California at Irvine – B.S. Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law – MSc. Master of Science in Law

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Hammond Group, Inc – EHS Manager/ IP Specialist

Environmental Resources Management – Staff Scientist/ Project Scientist/ Senior Project Scientist

County of Orange Watersheds  - Field Researcher and Technician

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I have acquired a number of valuable skills and much first-hand knowledge from working in laboratories, for government agencies,  and interacting with a wide range of clients. I take great pride in my ability to take what I’ve learned from these experiences and apply my knowledge and skills to my own ventures. Over the past few years, I have operated my own design business and have worked with a team developing a medical device designed to help nurses and doctors prevent pressure ulcers in long-term hospital patients. Furthermore, I am  currently organizing a non-profit organization that aims to promote mentorship and collaboration among LGBTQ professionals in Mexico and Latin America. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to contribute to the creation of new ventures and organizations.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Keep going. For most of us, the MBA admissions process can be emotionally and mentally draining. Remember that almost everyone is going through the same thing. Find someone — a friend, family member, or a colleague — who you can turn to for support throughout the application process. Just remember to take him or her out for a nice dinner after it’s all over as a ‘thank you’ for acting as your therapist, cheerleader and human Xanax.

I would also say to present the best version of yourself possible. We can all improve on many things, so, if you feel you’re falling short on one aspect of the application, work at it. Don’t feel confident about your GMAT score? Keep studying and take it again. Nervous about letters of recommendation? Sit down with your recommenders and let them know what you would like them to focus on in their letters. Worried about job experience? Seek out more challenging roles. The MBA admissions process can seem mysterious but there is a tremendous amount you can do to improve your application. Never feel helpless. If you have a specific question about a certain program, ask admissions. In my experience, most admissions staff are direct and willing to point you in the right direction.

Finally, I would suggest using the “MBA Blogs” sparingly and wisely. They can be useful to get a sense of what’s going on with a particular program, obtain  advice  about the GMAT, or  find out  when  you might  expect a decision. However, these boards  can also turn negative and counterproductive. Remember that you are an individual candidate and no one knows your story better than yourself. The only people that you need to convince are the admissions officers, not anonymous commentators on a message board.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I chose Duke because of fit. When considering the caliber of MBA that Duke represents, it really comes down to fit. From the beginning, I found Duke’s mission of molding collaborative leaders appealing. I know myself well enough to know that I work best in these sort of collaborative environments and I feel that business in the modern world has become so interwoven and connected with other industries and professions (law, sociology, engineering, etc.) that no one person can run a major business on her own. The future of great companies, in my opinion, depends upon how well their different departments work with each other.

Beyond Duke’s pedagogy and mission, I have been deeply impressed  by my classmates at Fuqua. I have yet to meet anyone who I feel I couldn’t get along with and nearly all the students I’ve met exude a certain je ne sais quoi of intelligence mixed with charm and amiability. There is a certain vibrancy at Duke that isn’t limited to the student body but extends to the administrative staff and the professors. It’s something you have to experience, but for me I felt at home.

Of course, there are other factors that contributed to my decisions to attend Duke. The campus is gorgeous and located in the heart of the renowned Research Triangle, and academically it’s a stellar institution. But when deciding where I was going to commit not only two years of my life, but a considerable amount of money, Duke rose to the top as place where I felt I would not only be able to achieve my academic and career goals, but enjoy my time and build lasting relationships as well.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  I think career success (finishing an internship and getting a job offer) is the most obvious measure but it is also the most expected. We are all obtaining an MBA to improve our career trajectory after all. My vision of success after the first year would be more aptly characterized as being on a career path that I feel passionate about, making an impression in the classroom or an impact in the community, and knowing that I have made at least a few personal connections that will last me beyond my time at Fuqua.


Related Stories In Our Meet The Class of 2019 Series: 

The Pioneering MBAs In The Class of 2019

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management

London Business School

University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business

Notre Dame University Mendoza College of Business

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

New York University Stern School of Business

University of Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business