Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class Of 2019


Sylvia Choi

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Former dolphin researcher turned management professional with an undying passion to be better, do better and inspire others to do the same.

Hometown: Hong Kong

Fun Fact About Yourself: Despite my aquaphobia, I joined the cadet navy in high school, went on a week-long kayaking expedition in college, and have remained a kayak and sailing lover to this day.

Undergraduate School and Major:  University of Hong Kong, BSc. Double majored in Ecology & Biodiversity; Earth Sciences

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Hong Kong Cetacean Research Project – Conservation Researcher

TAL Apparel Limited – Management Trainee

Fast Retailing – Global Uniqlo Manager

Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture – Consultant

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment in my career so far was leading a diverse sales floor team in a global flagship retail store, in a country that was new to me, in a language I had only learned for three months. It was made possible by realizing the importance of embracing the cultural differences in approaching problems, developing solutions, and accessing the best from a team.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants?  Have the GMAT completed as early as possible before you start the application process, in order to prevent distractions from school research, essay writing, and gathering recommendations. Once you have decided to apply, schedule an official GMAT exam as early as you can (at least three to four months before the B-school application deadlines) and then make your study plan accordingly. You may need additional time to do one or two retakes to obtain the scores you set for your target schools. Scheduling an official GMAT exam first before laying out a study plan as opposed to diving right into studying helped me to focus and condense the GMAT preparation time to less than two months.

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?  Besides Duke Fuqua’s location near the Research Triangle Park, in a close-knit small town, and the strength of the program particularly in healthcare management (and a scholarship!), another key factor was the people. The students and alumni I spoke to from before I submitted my application to deciding between offers, all showed a strong sense passion for the school and culture that gives back. The support community for international students in the period after receiving the school offer was distinctly strong in Fuqua. Fuqua has done an incredible job selecting a class of team players and structuring the program to be team centric – a skill that employers value. Additionally, I had the opportunity to meet some of the alumni in Shanghai, and I felt a tight circle of relationships that they keep to this date. All these were important factors as I decided on a business school.

Having spent a few weeks in Durham meeting some of my classmates and participating the week-long Health Sector Management Bootcamp, I can say that Team Fuqua is true to the bone. Fuquans truly care about one another and will go out of their way to help you (and to have fun!).

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? 

  • Receiving a return offer at my dream company!
  • Forming lifelong friendships with some of my classmates.
  • Improving my knowledge, skills and self to the level where I can be a valuable contributor in the healthcare industry .
  • At liberty to inspire others to reach their potential and achieve something they did not think they could.