Harvard | Mr. Overrepresented MBB Consultant (2+2)
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Wharton | Mr. Big Four To IB
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Startup Guy
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Rice Jones | Mr. Tech Firm Product Manager
GRE 320, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. Billion Dollar Startup
GRE 309, GPA 6.75/10
Chicago Booth | Mr. Mexican Central Banker
GMAT 730, GPA 95.8/100 (1st in class)
Harvard | Mr. Comeback Kid
GMAT 770, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Tech Risk
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Wharton | Ms. Strategy & Marketing Roles
GMAT 750, GPA 9.66/10
Harvard | Mr. Bomb Squad To Business
GMAT 740, GPA 3.36
Harvard | Mr. Big 4 To Healthcare Reformer
GRE 338, GPA 4.0 (1st Class Honours - UK - Deans List)
Foster School of Business | Mr. Corporate Strategy In Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.32
IU Kelley | Mr. Advertising Guy
GMAT 650, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. IB Back Office To Front Office/Consulting
GMAT 640, GPA 2.8
Yale | Mr. Lawyer Turned Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Whitecoat Businessman
GMAT 740, GPA Equivalent to 3(Wes) and 3.4(scholaro)
MIT Sloan | Ms. Digital Manufacturing To Tech Innovator
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Healthcare Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Columbia | Mr. Developing Social Enterprises
GMAT 750, GPA 3.75
Yale | Mr. Education Management
GMAT 730, GPA 7.797/10
Columbia | Mr. Neptune
GMAT 750, GPA 3.65
Darden | Ms. Education Management
GRE 331, GPA 9.284/10
Columbia | Mr. Confused Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. 2+2 Trader
GMAT 770, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr Big 4 To IB
GRE 317, GPA 4.04/5.00

Meet The MBA Class of 2022: Kelli Valdez, Duke University (Fuqua)

Kelli Valdez

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

“Musical theater loving mother of twins who is passionate about creating human-centered experiences.”

Hometown: Olney, Maryland

Fun Fact About Yourself: I once unknowingly entered, and subsequently won, a karaoke competition on a Carnival cruise ship that resulted in a costumed mainstage performance of Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” for all cruise guests.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Maryland, College Park – BA in Psychology; Harvard Graduate School of Education – Ed.M. in Prevention Science and Practice

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Teach For America, Managing Director of Regional Institute Strategy

The MBA program is renowned for its “Team Fuqua” culture, which is predicated on six paired principles: Authentic Engagement, Supportive Ambition, Collective Diversity, Impactful Stewardship, Loyal Community, and Uncompromising Integrity. Which of these resonates most with you – and what does that principle demand of you as a Fuqua MBA? Definitely Supportive Ambition. I gravitate towards learning people’s stories and doing what I can to support them in reaching their goals. I also wanted to be surrounded by others with similar values. As a Fuqua MBA student (particularly in this hybrid/virtual environment), this requires a great deal of intentionality. I need to dedicate time to get to know people and learn their interests and motivations so that we can be as supportive of each other’s growth and learning processes as possible.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I’m particularly interested in organizational design and culture. I was looking for a business school that really built a strong sense of team and community within its student body so that I could learn just as much outside of the classroom as I could within it. Additionally, as a parent, I knew that I was going to need a community that I could rely on to support me through this journey. Everything that I read about Team Fuqua and all of the current students and alumni that I spoke to all helped me believe that this would be a place where my entire family could thrive.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Learners who know how to have fun! Everyone whom I have had the opportunity to meet is so open to learning more about one another and can switch between serious conversations to silly ones almost seamlessly. This makes for a great learning environment, where it’s okay to try new things, fail, and learn from the experience.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I’m really excited about Fuqua on Board. I have worked in education and non-profit organizations for the entirety of my career. I’m looking forward to combining what I am learning at Fuqua with my prior experiences to support mission-driven organizations, so that they can more effectively manage their employees’ experience.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I am most proud of partnering with teacher training teams across the country to launch seven new regional teacher training sites with Teach For America. At each of these sites, we were able to balance the needs and desires of the community with our programmatic model to design meaningful training experiences for new teachers.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? A number of life changes, including becoming a mother, led me to really reflect on what I wanted to do with my life and how I wanted to spend my time. It was a question that I hadn’t thought much about in several years. When I started to navigate the complexities of juggling a career with having young twins, I realized that I needed to make sure that any time I spent away from my children was spent doing something that I found meaningful and valuable.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Kellogg and Yale SOM

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Probably why I wanted to get an MBA at this point in my career! I already have a Master’s degree in education and have more than the typical amount of work experience for students in a full-time MBA program. So it was really important for me to make sure that my winding journey could be succinctly communicated.

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? One blessing for me with the pandemic has been how much time I was able to spend with my kids before school started. They have been out of preschool since March, so we were able to have a lot of quality time together for the last several months. This has really helped alleviate any possible “mom guilt” that I could have about needing to take the time to study, network, and recruit. And my husband has been incredible about helping me create the space that I need to get everything done.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school?  I think my defining moment was becoming a mother. The daily experience of raising two young black children in America led me to question the legacy that I wanted to leave for them. I realized that I wanted to leverage what I have learned from navigating the intersectional and systemic oppressions that impact my everyday life and provide support to others who are struggling to overcome these hurdles.

As a mother, I have a responsibility to my children and their peers to equip the next generation of leaders with the skills necessary to create authentic and inclusive work cultures that honor and make space for the many identities that people bring to work. This focus allows me to lead with vulnerability and to be open to learning from a variety of perspectives that I know will enhance my experience at Fuqua.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I’m currently a huge fan of Peloton! A few months ago, the co-founder and CEO of Peloton, John Foley, joined members of our “Black Girl Magic: The Peloton Edition” Facebook group for a Fireside Chat on Facebook Live to learn more about the needs of our virtual community. It was such a powerful example of a meaningful and cost-effective way to gain deep customer insights directly from a community. Authentically engaging with customers to better understand their needs and desires is so critical and I am now an even more loyal customer after having this experience.

DON’T MISS: Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class of 2022