Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Lizzie Ayoub, Duke University (Fuqua)

Lizzie Ayoub

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

“Innovation consultant, best-selling author, Certified Integrative Health Coach, and wellness entrepreneur.”

Hometown: Boston, MA

Fun Fact About Yourself: During junior year of high school, I studied abroad at a community-oriented school on a small island in the Bahamas called, “The Island School,” started by a Navy Seal. While there, I completed a self-reflective 48-hour “solo” and a four-mile ocean swim.

Undergraduate School and Major: Vanderbilt University, B.S. Human and Organizational Development

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Innovation Specialist at Accenture

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? Authentic Engagement permeates throughout every aspect of Fuqua. The entire community – students, faculty, and staff – shows up engaged and committed to making this an incredibly special place, every day. At Fuqua, you are encouraged to be your authentic self and lean in to what makes you, “you.” This idea starts during the application process with the famous, “25 Random Things” essay.

What word best describes the Fuqua MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Supportive. I’ve been blown away by the level of genuine support that has come from Fuqua students and alumni. Everyone here wants to help each other – in the classroom, in the hallways, and outside of school. This became very apparent even before school started. When I first got to Durham and reached out for help moving furniture into my apartment, many classmates whom I had not yet met volunteered in less than five minutes. Supporting each other is just part of the DNA here.

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? Seeking a career at the intersection of health and wellness and innovation, I knew that I wanted to find a school that was strong in both of those areas. Duke, a leading health care institution that also sits in The Research Triangle, is the perfect place for me to explore this intersection.

Prior to starting at Fuqua this summer, I was introduced to Jay Faires, a Fuqua grad and the Founder/CEO of The Wellness Agency (TWA). TWA is an engine that identifies, nurtures, and scales transformative businesses that are mainstreaming wellness across the world. During our first conversation, Jay and I quickly realized we shared a story, passion for wellness, and mission to scale wellness solutions (in addition to both being part of the Fuqua family). Several conversations later, Jay brought me on to his team to craft and operationalize a few strategic initiatives before starting at Fuqua. It has been some of the most meaningful and fun work I have done yet. The power of the Fuqua family is real!

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Duke Fuqua? I can’t wait to get involved in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). Before taking my role at Accenture’s Boston Innovation Hub, I thought “Innovation” was just a sexy word for new technology. I have come to learn that innovation extends far beyond a technology solution; it is a process, a mindset, a way of working. I can’t wait to explore the various aspects of entrepreneurship and innovation at CEI.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As an Innovation Specialist at Accenture’s Boston Innovation Hub, I led a six-week engagement with a large pharmaceutical company to improve the drug discovery process for its scientists. We conducted interviews, ran analyses, and then brought scientists and IT together for a two-day design thinking workshop. The most rewarding aspect of this project was knowing that the work we were doing, at the end of the day, was ultimately about improving patient outcomes.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? Personally, the pandemic instilled in me an enormous amount of gratitude for my family, friends, and supportive teams at work. It also taught me the importance of giving grace to ourselves and to others. Professionally, it motivated me to accelerate my pursuit of a career in health and wellness. We saw over the past year plus how important it is to take care of ourselves. Although it took a pandemic for many people to realize this, the principle extends far beyond COVID. I firmly believe that when we are healthy, both mentally and physically, we show up in the world as stronger family members, kinder friends, and more meaningful members of society.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I want to make innovative wellness solutions more accessible. Marrying my experiences in innovation consulting and the wellness industries, my goal is to enable people to lead healthier lives in creative ways. I have started doing this in a grassroots way over the past few years, via my health education and health coaching business, Live Well With Liz, and am pursuing an MBA to match these bottoms-up efforts with a top-down, scalable approach. After graduation, I hope to work in strategy at a wellness company or venture capital (VC) firm, with a focus on enabling solutions to reach a more scalable market.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB, UVA Darden, UCLA Anderson, and Georgetown McDonough.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Duke Fuqua’s MBA program? Don’t try to be someone else or fit what you think is the “mold” of the perfect candidate. Be authentic, vulnerable, and real. Fuqua wants you for your uniqueness, not in spite of it.


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