2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Christen Baskerville, Duke University (Fuqua)

Christen Baskerville

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

“A true 90’s baby that wants to be known for her integrity, diligence, and relatability.”

Hometown: Marietta, Georgia

Fun fact about yourself: My fiancé and I applied to business school together and we both landed at Fuqua! It’s been great to go through this process with him and we’re tying the knot in Durham to make this experience even more special.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Georgia, Bachelor of Business in Marketing and Bachelor of Journalism in Advertising

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Prophet, Senior Recruiter

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Starbucks, Seattle, Washington

Where will you be working after graduation? Starbucks, Digital Customer Experience

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Center on Leadership and Ethics (COLE) Fellow, Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP) Fellow, Admissions Fellow, and Orientation Co-Chair

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Fuqua’s three-day orientation is a unique and energizing experience that I had the chance to co-chair this past summer with one of my closest b-school friends, Janyiah Olawale. In partnership with the Office of Student Life, the goal is to welcome the incoming class to the Team Fuqua culture and give them the knowledge for a smooth transition into business school. Fuqua-chella was the theme to highlight music’s ability to transcend borders and culture. The highlight of the experience was building new relationships with OSL and the support my co-chair and I received from our classmates. We had 40+ members from the class of 2023 take time off from their internships to come back and execute the event! Our first years had a great time and left with many resources to kick off their semester (and some key memories from the lip sync battle and catwalk challenge).

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At Deloitte, I worked with an all-star DEI team focused on diversifying the talent pipeline for the firm. Because we were so new, it was up to us to create a playbook that would result in impactful changes and improvements. During my first year on the team, I brought back an essential DEI relationship that resulted in significant hires. I also saved an at-risk partnership with a 100% offer acceptance rate. My processes turned into best practices for the rest of the team, and I received a bigger budget for the following year!

Why did you choose this business school? It’s hard to explain why I chose Fuqua—it was more of a feeling. I remember sitting in my kitchen during the pandemic as I virtually attended the Minority Workshop Weekend. I could feel the pride radiating from the screen by alums, staff, and current students. They had fully bought into the Team Fuqua spirit and I remember wanting to be a part of that community. So, I guess you can say it came down to the people—their pride and love for their school.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Because I wanted to switch industries and job functions, I knew experiential learning would be essential to my transition. I decided to participate in the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum and got paired with Stephanie Knight as my professor. She’s one of the sharpest professionals I have ever worked with and can frame up any business problem you send her. She was very hands-on with our project and encouraged us to expand our thinking. Because of what I learned from her and the course, I felt very prepared for my summer internship.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Managing Innovations with Professor Jonathan Cummings was a fantastic course and one of my favorites! Because I will be working in a job function that leans heavily on innovation practices, the class allowed me to understand the impacts of implementing new processes and technologies within a company. The cases and companies were exciting and diverse and Professor Cummings did an excellent job facilitating discussion.

What is the biggest myth about your school?  At first, I was skeptical that Fuqua was as diverse of a school as people said. As a DEI professional, I know how institutions inflate numbers to increase diversity scores. However, when I attended Orientation and walked into Geneen Auditorium with my new classmates, I understood they were telling the truth. Ethnic and racial identity is one thing (almost half of my classmates are international students). As Shari Hubert, associate dean for admissions, read off our class profile, it took diversity to the next level. Our class comprises lawyers, veterans, Ph.Ds, parents, D.J.s, and even classically trained ballerinas. I’m always learning something new about my classmates!

What did you love most about your business school’s town? When my fiancé and I first visited Durham, we were pleasantly surprised by how community-oriented the city is. There’s a significant focus on supporting locally-owned businesses, plenty of community events for all ages, and a healthy dose of southern hospitality. I feel very at home here!

What surprised you the most about business school? One of the things that I kept hearing during the recruiting process was that Fuqua is very student-led. I didn’t understand the weight of this until my classmates started planning and executing top-tier conferences and securing prime-time speakers for panels and events. We have a lot of support from the Office of Student Life, but they understand that we only have two years at Fuqua, and we should drive our experience and culture. I got a taste of this when planning orientation and loved putting our flavor into it with Fuqua leadership rooting for us along the way.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? My role as a DEI campus recruiter gave me an excellent foot in the door when recruiting for schools. I reached out to some of my previously hired candidates to hear more about their business school experience so I could get a better understanding of what made their programs unique. I would also like to throw a shout-out to the Black and Latino MBA Organization (BLMBAO) and all of the underrepresented minority clubs across all of the business schools. These clubs introduced students like me to their school’s culture and provided support throughout the application process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Sometimes I ask myself, “What would Tracey Cheun do in this situation?” Tracey is a member of my C-LEAD team and is one of the best people I know. She is genuinely empathetic, gracious, kind, thoughtful, and inclusive. She naturally embodies the spirit of Team Fuqua and leads by example through her actions. I can’t wait for her to lead a team one day because I know she will lead with integrity and intention. I also have to add that she has great taste in music and wine!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My top two items on my professional bucket list are working abroad for a few years and eventually owning my own business. Thanks to some inspiration from my fiancé, we felt very strongly about working for a global company to pursue international placements in the near future. For the latter, I’m still determining what that business will be but the Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition course here at Fuqua made it feel more attainable.

What made Christen such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Christen is the warmest and kindest person I know. She is the friend or colleague you seek out on your hardest days in an effort to find support, advice, and feedback that will make a difference. I learned this about Christen over lunch as we prepared to start planning Orientation for the Class of 2024. I didn’t know then that I was about to experience Christen’s inspirational and tireless leadership and her invaluable contribution to Team Fuqua.

Christen, and her orientation co-chair Janyiah Olawale, navigated the always complex and difficult process of planning a 3-day experience meant to set the tone for the incoming class. The kind of leader that leaves people feeling supported, Christen helped guide a team of 40+ peers to craft an immersive experience showcasing Team Fuqua. With Janyiah, she created the balance of holding her classmates accountable, while also giving them the space to leave their individual marks on the experience.

Christen and Janyiah’s most innovative and creative contribution to orientation was its theme: Fuqua-chella. Recognizing that music is a connector across cultures and nationalities, they weaved music into all elements of the programming and events, generating palpable excitement in the incoming class and creating unique ways for diverse members of their class to add a special touch to orientation through playlists, activities, or events. While leading the charge, they also considered feedback from a broad range of stakeholders, each with a dynamic and different idea on how to best engage students. Instead of shying away from these conversations, they leaned into them—striking a perfect balance between the competing priorities. And in the end, they created an inclusive and engaging launching point for the Class of 2024 while also blazing a path for future orientation leaders to follow.

Beyond orientation, Christen is a resource for her fellow students. She is a leadership, or COLE, fellow. It’s a role that involves mentoring first-year students on how to be effective leaders. She is also an active member of the Black and Latino MBA Organization. And perhaps even more importantly, she is willing to pitch in, fill in the gaps, and do what needs to be done around the school without an official title. I am experiencing this first-hand as Christen works with the transition of our next orientation team. Christen radiates positivity and uplifts the people around her—each time I see her, I feel energized and excited for the rest of the day. It is a privilege to call her a friend.”

Sara Wakefield
Director of Student Life, Daytime MBA Program


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