Meet Duke Fuqua’s MBA Class Of 2023

Hire the right people.

Great advice, but easier said than done. As the adage goes, you hire people for what they know and fire them for who they are. That means finding people who are more interested in solving problems than scoring points. Passionate and proactive, the right people don’t dictate terms, let alone hog credit. Instead, they have a knack for bringing out the best in teammates, rallying them around a purpose and a plan, leaving results and goodwill in their wake.

How do you develop the right people who can get along anywhere with anyone? Most business schools hold classes to build EQ — an emotional intelligence encompassing everything from social awareness to conflict resolution. At Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, EQ is reinforced in every interaction, where culture holds equal footing with cases. For some, the Fuqua mentality can be summed up in a proverb: To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together. Or, in the words of first-year Tatiana Dasso, “The success of someone else makes us all stronger.”


In fact, Duke MBAs have given a name to this dynamic: Team Fuqua. That sense of team takes many forms at Fuqua according to alumni. Teni Ariyo, a 2020 grad who joined Microsoft, notes that “there is as much emphasis on character and integrity as there is on competence and productivity.” Hence, you will often hear Dean Bill Boulding describe the school’s DQ — Decency Quotient — an extension of IQ where students expect each other to engage respectfully, embrace differences, and band together in good times and bad.

Olivia Henshaw, a 2020 grad who joined Ariyo at Microsoft, isn’t surprised that some might roll their eyes when they hear Team Fuqua. Make no mistake, she says, Team Fuqua is an identity…not a slogan. “Before our first round of Microsoft intern interviews, a bunch of us gathered to practice together to give each other feedback,” she recalls. “We genuinely wanted our “competition” to succeed, knowing that ultimately success is shared. The result? Nearly 20 Fuquans interned at Microsoft in summer 2019, more than any other business school in the US.”

Another 2020 MBA grad, Joao Pinto, describes the Fuqua spirit as deliberately being there to support your classmates. “Team Fuqua is there when someone reaches out asking if you are enjoying your experience, offering help, sharing an accomplishment, or talking to get to know you. I will never forget when I was tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020 and had to stay at home without stepping out. Fuquans kindly did groceries for my wife and me and hosted virtual get-togethers to check on us; they made the time go by faster, and even showed up on the street to say hi from our distant balcony.”

Fuqua MBA Class in JB Duke Hotel


Not surprisingly, Fuqua has been tagged as the “nice” MBA program. In reality, Team Fuqua is just as competitive and ambitious as everyone else. They just channel it towards collective success. Still, Thomas Louvaris, who joined the Class of 2023 this summer, noticed something else about the program.

“It attracts a certain subset of motivated individuals who are career-oriented but don’t take themselves too seriously, and know how to have fun. I heard many times of students who were accepted to higher-ranked programs but chose Fuqua instead for the more complete MBA experience. I found those observations and others powerful and elected to enroll.”

Team Fuqua may have started organically, but its qualities have since been codified. Fuqua MBAs operate out of six “Paired Principles.” Think of them as a framework, core standards that define the Fuqua experience — and students’ expectations of for each other. The Paired Principles are always front-and-center, so much so that Daytime students nominate classmates for exemplifying each of these principles: Supportive Ambition, Collective Diversity, Loyal Community, Impactful Stewardship, Authentic Engagement, and Uncompromising Integrity.


Among the incoming class, Supportive Ambition seemingly enjoyed the greatest popularity. The school defines this principle as, We support each other to achieve great things, because your success is my success. The success of each individual member of Team Fuqua makes the whole of Team Fuqua better.” This team over individual philosophy resonates with Maureen Ojukwu, who’d already witnessed the damage unleased by “toxic competition” and “underhanded tactics” in the workplace. Her classmate, Devika Mathur, also gravitated toward Supportive Ambition due to its expressions in everyday MBA life.

“At business school, you’re surrounded by a brilliant peer group with similar ambitions,” she writes. “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!”

For Eliza Johnson, Loyal Community was the Paired Principle that has lived up to its billing: a team that “has your back when you need it most.” “Before orientation, I had already met more than 100 classmates through Fuqua-initiated efforts and through social channels,” he tells P&Q. “From day one, we’ve been helping each other with early recruiting, finding resources, and discussing the pre-work, as well as meeting up for hikes and meals.

That Loyal Community experience also instilled a pay it forward mindset for current and future students. “I see it as my duty to help my classmates feel welcome and included,” she adds.

Daytime MBA class held in Geneen Auditorium


Team Fuqua defines Authentic Engagement in this way:We care and we do. We make a difference to Team Fuqua by being ourselves and engaging in the things we are passionate about.” That’s exactly what Lizzie Ayoub has experienced thus far. She observes that the whole Fuqua community — “students, faculty, and staff — shows up engaged and committed to making this an incredibly special place, every day.” More than that, Ayoub adds, Fuqua encourages students to bring their true selves to Durham. That was a welcome respite for Travis Beach, who is still starting to embrace his identity.

“I have been a closeted gay man for most of my life,” he shares. “I came out to close family and friends in recent years, but I was not out at work. This was a choice I made at the very beginning of my career and continued for my seven years in the army. After learning about the community at Fuqua and speaking with students from so many backgrounds, I saw strong intersectionality between affinity groups and felt comfortable expressing myself. For example, FuquaPride hosts a drag show with members of the Duke Armed Forces Association (DAFA) being one of the most participatory groups. Although this is just one example of a community that promotes inclusion and acceptance, it was very relevant for me because I was committed to engaging in an environment where I could be authentic about my true self as a former Green Beret and a LGBTQ+ identifying person. Now that I am at Fuqua, I can live the principle of Authentic Engagement.”

Nurses, CFOs, and Philanthropy Consultants. Anthropology, Physics, and Economics majors. Google, Nike, and Northrop Grumman alumni. The Fuqua Class of 2023 has been everywhere and done everything…often in high profile roles. Take Eliza Johnson who once led a fund-raising campaign for the World Health Organization to combat tropical diseases.


“With WHO AFRO, our fundraising goals were modest, but I encouraged my team to aim higher to take advantage of the opportunity to make a real impact in eliminating these diseases. We raised $45M – enabling WHO AFRO to scale up treatment for 42 million people in 751 districts across 23 African countries.”

Working as a Google account manager, Devika Mathur partnered with Cadbury on a social impact campaign. The goal, she says, was to motivate Indian consumers to support local stories that had been “hard-hit by the pandemic.” The results became the highlight of her career.

“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,” she explains. “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!”

Earlier this year, Joel Martinez managed the World Justice Challenge 2021, a global competition that provides financial support to “nonprofits and social enterprises working on key rule of law problems.” Kiera Givens was tasked with converting her non-profit’s meetings into remote interactions due to COVID.  By the same token, Tracy Liu overhauled her area’s project management efforts.

“I built the project delivery process and standards from scratch and implemented it in all five tech streams at Nike,” she explains. “It guided 40+ projects delivered yearly, greatly improving delivery efficiency and avoiding delay.”

Next Page: Interview with Russ Morgan, Senior Associate Dean

Page 3: Profiles of 12 Duke Fuqua MBAs

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