2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Arya Diwase, Duke University (Fuqua)

Arya Diwase

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

“I am a social entrepreneur from India who is passionate about creating impact through business.”

Hometown: Pune, Maharashtra, India

Fun fact about yourself: I can play the harmonica and once represented India at an international harmonica competition in Singapore.

Undergraduate School and Degree: New York University, B.A. (Double major in Environmental Studies and Journalism)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Prior to business school, I was working with an education non-profit in Bangalore called Dream a Dream as a part of the American India Foundation Clinton Fellowship.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? I used the summer to work on my startup, Himayat in Pune, India. I raised $35,000 during the school year to fund my summer in India.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at my startup, Himayat in Pune, India. Himayat is a digital employment benefits and HR management platform for domestic workers and their employers in India. My goal throughout business school has been to gain the necessary skills and network needed to launch this venture. I am excited that I now have the opportunity to work on it full-time post-graduation.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • MBA Association (MBAA) Co-President (Served as the co-president for Fuqua’s student council)
  • Lead Fellow for the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) Fellowship
  • Vice President of Entrepreneurship for the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club
  • Winner of the CASE LaunchPad Award – $10,000 to work on social venture (Himayat)
  • Winner of Fuqua Fast Pitch – $15,000 award to the best MBA startup in 2023

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Serving as the co-president of Fuqua’s MBA Association (MBAA) has been one of the most rewarding extracurricular activities that I have engaged in. In my role, I had the opportunity to represent over 900 students and foster a collaborative environment that reflected the Team Fuqua spirit. By tying budgetary allocations to reward collaborative efforts by on-campus clubs, my co-president and I successfully fostered a feeling of camaraderie and stewardship during a very polarizing time across various U.S. college campuses. Serving as a co-president during these challenging times allowed me to develop my own toolkit as a leader and also find creative ways to support my peers. I will always cherish this experience and take learnings from it to all my future professional endeavours.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I joined Duke Fuqua, I had a goal: Launch a social enterprise in my country to support informal laborers. While at business school, there were several moments where I questioned the feasibility of this goal, including when I saw others around me recruit for high-paying positions within the consulting or investment banking sector. Despite having moments of self-doubt, I am proud of myself for staying true to my goals and using every opportunity afforded to me at Fuqua to build my business.

During my first year, I set a goal to raise $30,000 to pilot my venture over the summer. By competing in several on-and-off-campus competitions, leveraging the Fuqua network, and constantly developing my business plan, I was able to reach my goal and launch Himayat in Pune, India. I am grateful for Fuqua and the space, flexibility, and support it provided me as I worked towards this mission. After a successful pilot, my co-founders and I are now ready to officially launch Himayat and work full time post-graduation.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose to attend Fuqua because of the unwavering commitment of the student body to one another. I found the application process daunting as someone without any prior academic experience in business or traditional business work experience. While most other schools offered access to their students at some level, the student body at Fuqua went above-and-beyond to ensure that I felt supported and in control of my applications. Multiple students went out of their way to make time to answer every question that I had and even helped me with my applications to other schools. I knew then that this would be an environment where I could thrive.

As a student entrepreneur, it is critical to be in an environment where your non-traditional path isn’t questioned but rather wholeheartedly encouraged. I knew that the tight-knit ecosystem at Fuqua would be the perfect place for me to grow those aspirations—and I wasn’t wrong.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? The New Ventures: Develop course taught by Professor Jamie Jones and Professor Max Stern is one of the best hands-on courses a student founder can take at Duke. We spent two terms developing and testing assumptions that are critical to business success by conducting customer discovery and working on our ventures with a team of students across the university. The course allowed me to work on my venture while at school, but also helped me connect with the best talent across Duke. One of my teammates even accompanied me to India to support me with my venture over the summer.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The one thing I would do differently is challenge myself to take courses that were unrelated to what I wanted to study. I am so grateful for the entrepreneurship courses that I had an opportunity to take at Fuqua, but I often found myself running away from classes, such as Financial Statement Analysis and Project Finance, because they seemed daunting unless you had a finance background. However, later in my MBA journey, I realized that I actually enjoyed finance and wish I had taken more of those classes. If I could do it all over again, I would push myself to step out of my comfort zone and try my best to not box myself into thinking I don’t have the skills to pursue something different than what I’m currently doing.

What is the biggest myth about your school? People think that “Team Fuqua” is a myth, but it is so real. Each day at Fuqua is filled with random acts of kindness that instantly make this place home—from the day a classmate offered to pick me up from the airport without ever having met me before to the time another classmate drove me around for three weeks when I didn’t have a car.

On a school level, we are sorted into smaller groups called consequential leadership, or CLEAD, teams on day one, and these serve as our little team throughout the academic year. We do all our assignments for core classes together and draw on each other’s unique strengths and backgrounds as we navigate the challenges of business school. These CLEADs become a second family, and I’m so grateful for my Fuqua Fam.

What surprised you the most about business school? As someone who came from a social impact background, I imagined business school to be a very unfamiliar landscape with individuals predominantly interested in capitalistic gains. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see students, faculty, and staff inclined towards social impact. Fuqua’s commitment to using business as a force for good was extremely refreshing and I found several ways to engage with the impact space through the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE).

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have deep respect and admiration for my co-president Stephen Ezekoye who embodies the Team Fuqua spirit. He is one of the most selfless people that I have met at Fuqua because he goes out of his way to be there for his classmates. I often wonder if Stephen has more hours in a day than the rest of us because you will find him at every single Fuqua event, supporting peers across various clubs and affinity groups. He deeply cares about our school and the people that surround us.

An example of Stephen’s empathetic leadership style is when he rallied 400+ individuals from our class to help provide daily meals and care packages for a classmate who had recently lost a parent. The classmate was deeply appreciative of this gesture. Stephen never took credit for it (as usual) but ensured that the community supported one of its own.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

1. Revolutionize the domestic work sector in India through my company Himayat to make the industry more equitable and ethical while still being profitable.

2. Secure an official partnership with the government of India to deliver our product at scale.

 What made Arya such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Arya Diwase serves Team Fuqua through her remarkable intelligence, collaborative spirit, and genuine empathy. With incredible intelligence and thoughtfulness, Arya navigates the complexities of leading a cohort of business school students who have varying expectations of the student experience.

Arya consistently delivers insightful solutions that inspire the community’s trust. However, it is her collaborative approach that truly distinguishes her leadership style. Arya cultivates an environment where every voice is heard and valued, fostering a sense of collective ownership and empowerment within the MBAA cabinet and the student body. Furthermore, Arya’s genuine empathy serves as a guiding light, as she empathetically understands the unique challenges her peers face and offers unwavering support and encouragement.

Above all, Arya’s dedication to Team Fuqua is palpable in every endeavour she undertakes, as she tirelessly works towards the common goal of fostering a community of excellence and inclusivity, leaving an indelible impact on the MBA experience for all.”

Steve Misuraca
Associate Dean of Daytime MBA, MMS and Accelerated MBA programs


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