Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class Of 2020

Anna Sturkey

Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

Warm-hearted consultant by day, cold-blooded Tar Heel by night. (a UNC fan at Duke)!”

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am currently completing the “Rory Gilmore reading challenge” – I’m reading every book ever referenced in Gilmore Girls. My favorite so far has been the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

Undergraduate School and Major: UNC Chapel Hill, Political Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Bain & Co., Consultant

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Helping the Women at Bain (WAB) group in Atlanta become (in my completely objective, not-at-all-biased opinion) the best at Bain – and sharing our successes with WAB groups across the company.

Everyone knows we’re in the middle of a long-overdue conversation about gender dynamics in the workplace, from Hollywood to politics to business. And what has stood out is how hard it is to both start and have those conversations. I think Atlanta WAB has done a phenomenal job of fostering conversations. We’ve developed Atlanta WAB into a group that maintains its previous success (sharing and discussing experiences among women) but has also started to create dialogues, mentor support structures, and trainings that bring our men into the group. And the work we’ve done is serving as a model for other WAB groups. It’s super exciting to get a call from someone at another Bain office asking how they can build their WAB group like we built ours.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Genuine. Everyone I’ve met has felt like a real person. If they say something is important to them, you know it really is. If they act like they want to be your friend, you know they actually do. They’re not just temporary small talk buddies.

Aside from your classmates, 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? It’s nice to be so close to the best college basketball program in history – the Dean E Smith Center (at UNC-CH) is less than 30 minutes from my apartment.

Joking aside, it was easily the #TeamFuqua environment. Lots of schools talk about how they have a unique culture, but Fuqua was the only one I visited where the described culture felt alive to me. It started at Bain where my Fuqua colleagues were hands-down the most excited about me applying to their school and most willing to help me and send me Poets & Quants articles about why Fuqua is the best. It continued through my interview experience where there were people just hanging around the lobby to chat with the interviewees while they waited – answering questions and calming them down. Essentially every part of my Fuqua interactions were screaming “we are a community of people who are extremely enthusiastic about wanting each other to succeed”.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? The Case I3 Consulting Practicum – Fuqua’s impact investing consulting projects.  It’s an opportunity to help an institution trying to make a positive impact in the world answer a vague (and exciting!) question about how to make that impact.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Because I jumped straight from majoring in political science to working at Bain, I’ve often had to learn on the fly (side note: there’s way more carryover from political science than you’d think!). And because I’ve worked with awesome people, I’ve learned a ton. But I also know there’s a ton I don’t know. As I continue through my career, I need to know I don’t have major blind spots. I’m getting my MBA to fill in the gaps in between what I’ve learned on the fly.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? For me, it was pretty simple. I know that long term I want to help lead the business strategy of a non-profit, and I want to do it well. So, I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any gaps in my business knowledge.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Ross, Darden, Anderson, Haas, Yale SOM

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Honestly, for me, the best way to determine fit was to visit and talk to people. Rankings and numbers are obviously somewhat important, but beyond a point they really weren’t my focus. I listened to how people describe their experiences at their schools – both the words they used and the words they didn’t use. Of the schools I knew would help me accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, I picked the school where I felt most at home and with the students I most wanted to spend my time with.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Being a part of the Chancellor’s task force to rewrite the sexual assault policy at UNC.

Prior to the task force kicking off, I had been working with survivors of sexual assault and come to two conclusions: 1) I was incredibly passionate about work that supported and empowered women; and 2) I was not the type of super human who could do individual work on a long-term basis. So, I had a dilemma – I was full of passion with no clear idea of how I could put it to use.

Then the taskforce kicked off and I realized that working to improve institutions provided an opportunity to channel my passion as well as matching my skills. I understood actor dynamics from Political Science and I loved the process of starting with a vague question (e.g., “What should the sexual assault policy be?”) and breaking it down into bite size chunks (e.g., “What is our current environment?”, “What are our goals?”, etc.).

Ultimately this experience provided the blue print for what I’d like to do long term and what I’ve been working towards so far.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?  I’ll head back to Bain and see how much everyone missed me.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I’d love to be working on the leadership team of a non-profit or consulting with non-profits. Ultimately, I want to be working on questions of how an institution (e.g., Planned Parenthood, ACLU, etc.) can best empower women.

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