Kandasi Griffiths (she/her)
“Queer African-American woman building community and empowering women of color to make an impact.”
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia (USA)
Fun Fact About Yourself: I finally learned how to drive a stick shift across a pitch-black Jordanian desert in the middle of the night.
Undergraduate School and Major: Princeton University – B.A. in Politics (International Relations)
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Founder & Chief Curator, SR Collaborative
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? Supportive Ambition resonates with me whole-heartedly. I hesitated to apply to business school for years because I didn’t think there would be a place or community for someone like me with a non-profit and international development background and collaborative rather than competitive mindset. Students and staff reinforced this value with words and actions to ensure that every member of Team Fuqua, myself included, succeeds. This spirit means that I’m constantly looking at ways to lift someone else up or share information that would help them reach their goals, and I’m eager to do so.
What has been your first impression of the Fuqua MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Fuqua story so far. Everyone has been so enthusiastically supportive even before I decided to apply to Fuqua! I’m blown away by the eagerness to get to know me in a genuine way and offer support however they can. While trying to find housing from Washington, DC this summer, the listings would only be available for a day or two making it impossible to see units before applying. On the day of graduation, a Fuqua student offered to FaceTime tour a location for me, talked to the landlord and previous tenants, and answered dozens of questions about the neighborhood. He went completely out of his way to lend a hand. Thankfully, it worked out!
Aside from your classmates and school culture, what was the key part of Duke Fuqua’s MBA curriculum programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I love that Fuqua has Entrepreneurial Mindset and Action as a required course. As a Social Entrepreneur, it’s great to see these values reflected in the curriculum and community as a whole. Whether working for my own business or innovating in a large company, Fuqua promotes an entrepreneurial spirit to constantly iterate and adapt.
What course, club or activity excites you the most at Duke Fuqua? I am excited to participate in CASE i3, the impact investing practicum, and engaging with the CASE (Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship) center as a whole. Coming from a project management and operational background, I’m eager to understand how the investment side of impact work happens in a practical and experiential way. I’ve been frustrated to see incredible solutions that lack the funding they need to scale. CASE i3 will enable me to change those funding streams in the future.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2018, I designed and managed national deployments of adapted medical equipment across Benin and Guinea. Working completely in my second language, I brought together stakeholders across the private and public sectors to clear equipment through customs, partnered with local physician societies to conduct trainings, synchronized sea and land shipments, and ensured long-term clinical and technical support at the facilities. As a result of the installed equipment, surgeries were able to continue safely even during power outages, with a particular focus on maternal and child care during cesarean sections, and the preventative maintenance and repairs ensured continued functionality of the machines for years to come.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? Frustrated by the destructive dependency cycle and limited local input of international development projects I managed, I founded SR Collaborative to leverage my operational experience and intersectional perspective to rethink methods. It prioritizes horizontal networks that empower fellow women of color. At this stage, I want to increase my business acumen to better support scaling of my social enterprises and those of my clients through an MBA. I plan to expand from emerging businesses consulting to a comprehensive business development firm linking to micro impact-investments to scale local initiatives, accelerating economic development either through SR Collaborative or impact investing roles.
What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? While school podcasts and interviews were helpful to gain insight into the types of conversations that took place on campus, my biggest recommendation is journaling in whatever form you prefer. Taking time to be reflective through the application process with writing and meditation was the most useful thing I did to keep me grounded in my personal why.
What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Duke Fuqua’s MBA program? Fuqua really wants to know who you are. Don’t try to be someone you’re not for admission. The more honest you are, the clearer it will be how you will contribute to Team Fuqua.