Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Ngoc (Maya) Thi Duong, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Ngoc (Maya) Thi Duong

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management

“I am an adventurous person. I went spelunking in a natural cave for 48 hours.”

Hometown: Nghe An, Vietnam

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love karaoke and sing every day to release stress.

Undergraduate School and Major: Banking Academy of Vietnam

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: GI Trade Co, co-founder

What has been your favorite part of Nashville so far? Why? I love hiking in Nashville. There are gorgeous hiking views only a 25 minutes’ drive outside of the city.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The Mod systems and the possibility of creating your own MBA are appealing to me. You can choose a few electives to take in addition to the core classes for each Mod. I appreciate the opportunity to choose what you want to learn at Vanderbilt, especially as an entrepreneur; other schools do not offer this option.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Vanderbilt Owen? I love Vanderbilt’s Closing Bell. After a busy week, every Thursday afternoon, all students come together for a complimentary meal and drink. It is a wonderful way to socialize with your classmates.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2019, realizing that China was a potential market to start a trading business due to its excellent trade and transportation-related infrastructure, competitive international logistic cost, and goods price, I relocated there to analyze the market and connect with suppliers. A half-year later, with a co-founder in Vietnam, I successfully launched GI Trade Co, which specializes in medical supplies and consumer goods. Despite the negative effect of the pandemic, our company not only survived but grew by 150%. I also feel overjoyed that over 2 years, we were able to deliver thousands of medical supplies to help people in Vietnam fight COVID.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? I enjoy meeting new people every day, and after just a few months at Owen, I have been in class and group work with classmates from all over the world. It is so fascinating to hear their stories and learn from their perspectives.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Recently I started reading the book Success under Stress by Sharon Melnick. This book provides simple and effective methods for reducing work-life stress. Highly recommend.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA program? Be your true self and be strategic while deciding the school to apply to. When I was in your shoes a year ago, I recall how challenging the choice was. Do not just focus on rankings; spend some time talking to alumni or current students to understand the school’s offering, whether it aligns with your career goal, or is a place where you can learn useful knowledge and thrive.


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