Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Devika Mathur, Duke University (Fuqua)

Devika Mathur

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

“I’m a lifelong learner, a loyal friend, an ever willing conversationalist and an awful cook!”

Hometown: Gurgaon, Haryana, India

Fun Fact About Yourself:  My most commonly used phrase in discussions is “Let me play Devil’s Advocate.” Having debated through high school and college, I’ve learnt to anticipate counterarguments to strengthen a point!

Undergraduate School and Major: Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. Major: B.A. Economics Hons

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Account Manager at Google

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? Each principle plays a role in making Team Fuqua a family, but the one that most resonates with me is “Supportive Ambition.” At business school, you’re surrounded by a brilliant peer group with similar ambitions. Rather than considering each other as competition, Fuquans become each other’s strongest assets. To me, it is the little, everyday things that truly bring this principle alive: things such as bringing each other up to speed with classes we miss, sharing what’s working for us during the recruitment process, taking the load off overwhelmed teammates, or just being each other’s most genuine cheerleaders!

What word best describes the Fuqua MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? “Humble.” Despite being exceptional individuals, Fuquans have a humility that makes them open to constantly learning from and growing with each other. Each member of the community is always keen to seek more feedback and perspectives from the others to improve themselves. When speaking about their stellar placements, our second-years never fail to mention how much their teams coached and supported them. Similarly, during alumni chats, no matter how senior and successful Fuqua alums are, they are always interested in hearing my perspectives as well. This humility makes for strong teamwork and even stronger personal bonds!

Aside from your classmates and school culture, what was the key part of Duke Fuqua’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? A key takeaway I want from my MBA is a multicultural friend-circle and network. At Fuqua, every aspect of the program is designed to facilitate this. We are divided into “C-lead teams”, which are diverse study teams of six students each – most Fuquans eventually call their learning teams “family”! Our class schedules encourage us to stay in town over weekends, thereby helping deepen relationships. Add to that our weekly school-wide, “Fuqua Friday” parties, heavily engaged alumni community, and global learning opportunities (fingers crossed that travel soon resumes!), and one can clearly see how intentional Fuqua is about building life-long student bonds.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Duke Fuqua? In India, I served as director of a nonprofit that supports women against violence. Having experienced how fulfilling it is to play a role in driving change, I am keen to continue my involvement in the non-profit space. During my MBA, I hope to expand the scale of my impact, while also gaining formal mentorship in the non-profit sector. I am therefore very excited to join, “Fuqua on Board.” This program matches MBA students with Durham-area nonprofits to serve as non-voting board members. To me, it represents the ideal intersection of personal growth and driving social impact.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far. As an Account Manager for large, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) at Google, I led a social impact marketing campaign for Cadbury last year. The campaign encouraged Indian consumers to shop at and support local neighborhood stores which had been hard-hit by the pandemic. Over three months, I worked with multiple advertising agencies and Google teams to leverage YouTube and Google Maps technologies, so that every consumer was shown a Cadbury ad promoting his or her nearest neighborhood store. This campaign became India’s first AI-enabled, hyperlocal personalized ad campaign, increasing the monthly turnovers of 1,800 local retailers. It went on to win the 2020-21 Bronze Award, Acknowledging Marketing Achievements, at the Cannes International Film Festival. When I was leaving Google, the Cadbury team gifted me a copy of the campaign banner, with my face photoshopped onto it, as a farewell memento!

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? I’ve always been someone with a very definite plan for the career and life path I wanted. When the pandemic changed our ways of life literally overnight, it made me realize that nothing is set in stone. While I still have some direction, I’m now a lot more ready to accept that life may go differently and that I will have to adapt to the highs and lows as they may come.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? Pursuing a sales role prior to my MBA, I realized that what excites me most at work is being able to collaborate directly with clients to solve their business challenges. After graduation, I hope to work on a wider set of client challenges across multiple industries and functions. I am therefore keen to pivot to a career in consulting. My motivation to pursue an MBA is two-fold: first, I am keen to learn about all the various business functions to approach business challenges holistically (my current exposure has been primarily in marketing). Second, I would like to be more intentional about investing in my personal growth as a leader and teammate, before I embark on the next phase of my career. Having worked for five years, I am now familiar enough with the corporate world and my work style, to be able to really contextualize learnings from my MBA at this point.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Ross, Columbia

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Duke Fuqua’s MBA program? Team Fuqua is real: collaboration and team-bonding run deep in the DNA of this school. It is therefore important to reflect on and demonstrate how you are a team player who can not only flourish in but also facilitate such an environment. Besides that, remember to have fun with the application! Don’t try and present a certain image that you think typical business school candidates may have, because this school hugely values authenticity and diversity. Just be yourself and give it your best!


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