2021 MBAs To Watch: Joshua McDuffie, Boston College (Carroll)

Joshua McDuffie

Boston College, Carroll School of Management

A dedicated individual who pursues integrity and commitment in everything he does.”

Hometown: Spencer, MA

Fun fact about yourself: I have driven cross country from East coast to the West coast as well as West coast to the East coast.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Assumption College, BA (Sociology with a concentration in Criminology)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

The last place I worked prior to enrolling in business school was in the United States Marine Corps as a Company Executive Officer for India Company, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? During the summer of 2020, I interned at Liberty Mutual in their Corporate Development Program. The internship was 100% virtual. However, my home office was Boston, MA.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to Liberty Mutual as a Senior Business Consultant in their Corporate Development Program (CDP). When entering the MBA program, I was attracted to the diverse experiences that rotational development programs offered. I believe Liberty Mutual’ s development program will provide me the opportunity to expand upon my MBA education through hands-on experiences in a variety of business roles.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I volunteered with the Run to Home Program through Boston College’s Student Veteran Association. We assisted with set-up as well as handing out water to runners who partook in the 5K and the 10K charity runs. Within the Student Veteran Association, I have served as the veteran representative for the Carroll School of Management within their admissions department for two years. As veterans look to make the transition into business school, I serve as a liaison for them to connect with before, during, and after the application process. I can relate to the feeling of confusion and uncertainty that can arise when pivoting from a military career to one in business. Now that I have completed the transition, I believe it is important to give back and support others going through similar changes.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The achievement I am most proud of during business school is this nomination for the Poets&Quants Best and Brightest MBAs. Upon being nominated, I was humbled and honored. When I began my MBA career at Boston College, I was nervous about the transition from the military to an elite business school. With the help of my career counselor, the outstanding professors, and my supportive classmates, I was able to thrive in the classroom. I have never thought of myself as one of the “Best and Brightest” and to be nominated as such reflects the support of those around me over the past two years.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  The professional achievement I am most proud of is my four years of service with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, India Company. I had the honor of serving as a Platoon Commander and an Executive Officer for the same unit. I oversaw the development and mentorship of up to 150 Marines as well as coordinating the logistical and tactical support needed to be successful. Over the course of training for and partaking in two deployments, I was able to witness the professional and individual growth of the Marines in my charge. I am most proud of these four years, not only because of the impact I was honored to have on my Marines, but the impact that they made on my own leadership development.

In looking at my time in this role, I am always surprised by the growth that I was able to achieve.  When I first arrived at my unit, I was placed in charge of 40 individuals, of which most had more experience than me. This responsibility taught me how humility, respect, and leadership go hand-in-hand. With the support of my senior Marines, I was able to grow as a leader, which provided me the necessary skills to serve as a valuable contributor to the development of others.

Why did you choose this business school? While I was applying to business school, I was deployed with the Marine Corps. We were shipboard, and connectivity was limited. During my application process, I attempted to communicate my situation early and often with the schools I was applying to. With limited access to phone lines and spotty email connection, communication was difficult.

Prior to completing my application, I received an email from a current student at Boston College looking to connect with me. He was a Marine Corps veteran and had heard from the admissions department of my situation. We arranged plans for a phone call during a short window of time while I would be on land. During the call, we connected over shared experiences. He answered my questions about transitioning from military life to business school, and we joked about what the best meal is to have after returning from a deployment. At no point did he push a Boston College agenda. It was a phone call, set up by the admissions department, to simply check in and offer a friendly connection. After the call, I realized that the concern and support that Boston College showed me, prior to even submitting my application, was the type of community that would help me in my transition into the next chapter of my life.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor would have to be Professor Metin Sengul. Professor Sengul taught the Strategic Management class in my first year of the MBA program. He challenged us to understand assigned cases beyond their face value. It was evident that his class had been thoughtfully structured over the years, seamlessly linking assigned readings from week-to-week, creating a cohesive feeling throughout the quarter. Professor Sengul held every student to a high standard while showing each of us the upmost respect. The preparation, participation, and analytical thinking expected of us helped develop real-world skills and a thorough understanding of the material. These real-world skills proved beneficial during my internship this summer. The ability to think outside of the box, defend decisions with historical cases, and the confidence to defend a well-researched argument helped me successfully transition into the work force.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event at Boston College would have to be the Fall Boston College Veteran Kickoff. The event is put on by Boston College’s Student Veteran Association and is an opportunity for veterans in the MBA program to network with BC veteran alumni. The networking and sense of the community at the event helped me build my professional network and understand that I was now a part of something bigger than myself. It was amazing to see the successes of the alumni and the passion they had to giving back to the current veteran students of Boston College.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back on my MBA experience, one thing I would have done differently would be to participate in more MBA activities such as the tailgates, winter gala, and other social events. In the first semester of my MBA, I decided to focus on my academics and professional networking.  My thought was that after I had solidified my postgraduate plans, I would be able to participate in additional social events the following year. At the time, I did not realize the impact social events would have in building professional networks with my fellow classmates. The impact of COVID was unexpected, and I regret not taking advantage of more opportunities while they were available. Overall, I learned the importance of seizing opportunities when they arise, never knowing what the future may hold.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Boston College was the sense of community that I had read and heard about from the University’s websites and current students. The reason I felt it was a myth is I have experienced other schools using attributes such as a strong community as a marketing tool to attract candidates. Within my first week at Boston College, I discovered this was far from a myth in BC’s case. From taking public speaking classes with strangers to struggling in my first ever accounting class, I felt the support of the community. If I were struggling in class, I knew that I could reach out to any of my classmates for help and when trying to figure out my next career steps, I knew I could count on the support of a vast alumni network. Boston College’s sense of community is far from a myth and I am proud about my decision to become part of such an amazing program.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me most about business school was the diverse professional backgrounds of the student body. When I was preparing to enter the program, I had expected to be the only student who did not come from an extensive business background. I discovered that Boston College’s MBA program has professionals from varied backgrounds who are all working toward the same goal of pivoting their careers in the pursuit of professional and personal goals. I believe this diversity brought another dimension to the classroom. One business case may be approached differently by someone with a background in finance, compared to someone from an engineering background. These differences led to more in-depth discussions and a more complete understanding of business decisions.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I believe honesty was one thing that gave me an edge in applying to Boston College. I was deployed during my application process and was unable to retake my GMAT, which I had only taken once. I felt that my test score was not reflective of what I was truly capable of. I took the time to write the optional essay, as part of the application process, to highlight my past quantitative performances in undergrad as well as the intangible skills I had developed during my time in the military. I did not make an excuse for my test score, but rather explained what I felt I could add to the program outside of the exam.

Additionally, during the interview I made a deliberate effort to be myself. I did not come from a business background. I had not interviewed for a job in several years, and I was sitting in a metal hut on the other side of the world. I did not fabricate any stories and I answered questions with what I considered to be the most truthful responses. Overall, I believe it was honesty that helped give me the edge in my application process and it is still honesty that helps give me an edge in my professional career.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate that I admire most would be Conor Ryan. I first met Conor in the first week of business school and we were in many of the same classes. He is always willing to lend a helping hand inside and outside of the classroom. Conor has the strongest work ethic of anyone I have met, with an unmatched level of humility. I believe Conor exemplifies what it means to be an MBA through his academic and professional success and his commitment to giving back to the community.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? While the initial shift to an online environment was disruptive to all businesses and schools, I believe that Boston College handled the challenge in a way that supported both students and faculty. When the country entered quarantine, we were in the first week of our fourth quarter classes. Rather than blindly turning to online learning, Boston College told students and professors to take a week to make the appropriate adjustments. This decision demonstrated the school’s dedication to their students and faculty and helped ease the stress of transitioning to a virtual environment. Throughout the quarter, professors and administrators would constantly ask for feedback from the student body and were open to suggestions to improve. I believe that Boston College did an amazing job of adapting over the course of the year. While it was impossible to mitigate all the disruptions from shifting to online/hybrid learning, I never felt that the quality of the program was sacrificed.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The person who most influenced me in my decision to pursue business school was a friend who was on my first deployment with me. He had transitioned out of the Marine Corps a year before me and attended Dartmouth College. When it came time for me to make the decision to transition out of the military, he reached out and asked if I had considered pursing my MBA. He told me about the opportunities and benefits of an MBA, and how the degree aligned with my career goals. I was passionate about management and leadership, and he was able to show me the benefits of pursing a career in management through an MBA program. When I was applying to schools, he was more than willing to help me with my resume and played a key role in my decision to attend Boston College.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. To find a career path that I am passionate about and look forward to everyday. I believe Liberty Mutual’s rotational program is an amazing opportunity to experience different careers over the course of two years.
  2. To work my way within a company to a position that allows me to help in the development and success of others. I believe personal success is defined by the success of those you influence.

What made Josh such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Josh exemplifies a dedication to service that is central to the Boston College ethos. From his time in the Marine Corps to his transition to civilian life and business school, Josh has been a dedicated and untiring team leader, traits that stem from his desire to serve since he was young.

Following his undergraduate studies at Assumption College, Josh immediately joined the Marine Corps. As an officer in the Marines, Josh quickly developed leadership and mentorship skills, from guiding troops in combat deployment to training and building cross-cultural rapport with soldiers from countries such as South Korea and Malaysia. Retiring from the Marines as a captain, Josh turned his sights on business school to help prepare him for the next phase of his life.

At the Carroll School, Josh has achieved high academic standing and has continued to strengthen his leadership capabilities, whether supporting the success of his classmates or in engaging the Boston College veterans community. He has also contributed tremendously to the Graduate Programs Office, having served as an MBA Ambassador, Admissions Fellow, and MBA Graduate Assistant throughout his time in the program. His willingness to reach out to prospective students and to give back to BC has been exemplary.

Post-MBA, Josh will return to the leadership development program at Liberty Mutual, where he interned last summer. I am confident that Josh will not only continue to grow as a leader at Liberty, but he will also be a major asset to the community through continued service to others.”

Marilyn Eckelman
Associate Dean, Graduate Programs
Carroll School of Management



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