Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class Of 2020

Anthony Solesi

Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

Passionate, loyal, hardworking, brunch loving Marylander. Crab cakes and football, that’s what Maryland does.”

Hometown: Bel Air, MD

Fun Fact About Yourself: When I was 10 years old, I was in a movie with Cameron Diaz (as an extra).

Undergraduate School and Major: Lehigh University, Information & Systems Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: The Bank of New York Mellon – Vice President, Strategy

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Continuously creating value for clients and transforming businesses, such as working with a diverse team to lead the internalization of a well-known Mortgage Real Estate Investment Trust (mREITS), has been very enjoyable over the last six years. Although, coaching and mentoring the next group of strategy associates has been the greatest reward.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Humble and down-to- earth. The culture at Fuqua is like nothing I have ever experienced. As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. The faculty and students were beyond welcoming and more than willing to go out of their way to help. You felt a part of something much bigger than yourself.  Everyone at Fuqua truly buys into the “Team Fuqua” mentality and the tight knit collaborative environment is something I valued heading into business school.

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? Fuqua’s emphasis on consequential leadership was very appealing when deciding between schools. Becoming a leader of consequence, or a leader with a higher purpose than just business results, was something that I valued. In today’s world, teamwork is a key to success – Fuqua understands this and develops leaders to be able to not only manage a team, but become consequential leaders who invest in professional relationships, promote cohesion, and communicate easily and effectively.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am eager to become part of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club (EVCC). I have wanted to explore some entrepreneurial opportunities for some time now, and with the resources and assistance of the EVCC I will be in better position to do so.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? My desire to accelerate my career and explore other industries.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I admit that I spent many nights calculating the potential ROI of an MBA. While nothing is 100% certain, I felt confident that with the recent MBA employment reports I would be making a sound decision. Although the financial ROI played a large role in my decision, the opportunity to make lifelong relationships with classmates, alumni, and faculty was the deciding factor.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to Tuck, Columbia and Wharton.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I valued culture first and foremost. While visiting each campus, I wanted to see if I could picture myself as a future student at that school. I wanted a tight-knit community and collaborative learning environment in which the students truly cared about the well-being of their classmates (thus why I fell in love with Fuqua). I would reach out to current students throughout the application process to pick their brain and learn more about the culture at each school.

Since I was coming into an MBA program with my fiancé, the partner support and programs played a large role in my decision. I wanted to be at a school where they actively included partners and made them feel part of the class.

Additionally, I paid close attention to the various alumni of each school. Were these people who I have worked with in the past? Did I view them as a strong leader? Did I view them as someone I admired and would like to work with again in the future? These were the type of questions I would ask myself based on my interaction with various alumni.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? When I was 14 years old, I started delivering bread with my father starting at 2 a.m. every weekend (he owned a Pepperidge Farm route). I had watched my father wake this early and work over 14 hours a day throughout my childhood in order to support our family and help me attend college. Starting to work for my father taught me the importance of hard work and dedication. My father could not afford to take a sick day or take much (if any) time off. His work ethic and drive is something that will forever stick with me throughout my career.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? First and foremost, I plan to marry my fiancé in May 2020 (my biggest support system through this entire MBA journey!). Professionally, I will hopefully have started a new career/business within the ever-changing retail industry.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself with a growing family and continuing to develop a start-up business in the retail space. If for some reason the entrepreneurial route does not pan out, I could see myself back in strategy consulting focusing on the hardest challenges facing the retail and CPG industries.

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