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Master’s in Management: Keerthana Chellappan, Duke University (Fuqua)

Student Name: Keerthana Chellappan

Graduate Business School: Duke University Fuqua School of Business

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: Social introvert who’s passionate about digital marketing. Pun addict, with no hope for recovery!

Master’s Graduation Class: 2019

Undergraduate School and Major: Guindy College of Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering.

Current Employer and Job Title: New Engen, Media Services Senior Associate.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: This is a tough one because my company has given me so many great opportunities and interesting problems to work on. One moment that I fondly look back on is when I convinced a client to keep their influencer ads running and proposed a strategy to make it profitable. Fast forward to today, the same ads they wanted to pause now generate nearly 40 percent of their monthly revenue. It was one of the first projects I led, and it helped me develop a stronger relationship with my client team!

I’ve recently become more involved with mentoring junior members on my team. I love watching them grow, and every single time they go above and beyond, I’m filled with pride, joy and excitement. It’s still early, but I feel that enhancing my mentorship skills will soon become my next favorite milestone in my career!

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: The most rewarding experience was being an admissions ambassador.  Being able to support prospective students throughout their journey was fulfilling. I enjoyed sharing my experiences and helping prospects understand whether or not Fuqua would be a good fit for their career path. To date, I’m still in touch with a lot of students I helped. This experience also set the foundation for me to be able to continue to support prospective, current and graduate students in a variety of ways.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? For me, I felt a personality fit with a school was the most important factor. I wanted to be immersed in an environment that shared the same values and would help me build on my foundation. The more I read about Fuqua, the more I fell in love with the school. To date, I still remember seeing an article where Fuqua talked about growing leaders of consequence and compassion, and that was the moment I knew that Fuqua was the only graduate university I wanted to attend (which was also why Fuqua was the only application I made. It was going to be Fuqua or nothing for me!).

What led you to choose a Master’s in Management over an MBA? When I was an undergrad, I realized I had developed a growing interest towards marketing. But going from engineering to marketing was a hard pivot, and I knew I needed a good foundational understanding of several business concepts like finance, strategy and marketing to succeed in marketing. My management master’s degree helped satisfy those goals. With this degree in hand, I have more options for the future; I can either continue my career organically or return to school to do an accelerated MBA.

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? Without a doubt, my business communications course! It provided me with a great platform to polish my presentation and public speaking skills. We also had a session where we were asked not only to represent a company of our choosing, but to also field questions, mid-presentation. At the time, it was a challenging prospect. But it was such a good skill to develop because, in a client facing role, these situations happen almost everyday. As a result, I became more comfortable with answering questions on the spot, learning when and how to defer, and learning how to work through a problem as a team, in the moment. 

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? Other than providing me with a great foundation to start a career in marketing, Fuqua’s Career Management Center (CMC) provided support in a number of ways: connecting me to alumni with experience, narrowing my interests, and even working with me to choose which companies to approach. Both my classmates and the CMC were very supportive in helping me really understand how best to present my unique skills and experiences during the interview process. More broadly, Fuqua’s focus on reinforcing soft skills and providing an immersive team environment throughout the year gave me an edge, given the highly collaborative nature of my current role! 

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? It can be challenging to juggle a social life, back-to-back classes, homework, and tests in six-week semesters. But what makes it invaluable is that no matter what you’re doing, you’re in the trenches with your team. My teammates pushed me to be the best version of myself and empowered me to shine with my strongest skills. They also helped me along the way in areas I struggled, like finance and accounting courses. Even outside of coursework, we were always rooting for each other in our personal and professional lives. 

I’ve spent eight hours with my team in a single room having heated debates about multiple assignments. And at the end of a long and frustrating day, they always made me feel excited to see them again and to get right back into it!

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? My favorite professor is Noah Eisenkraft. What I really liked about learning from Professor Eisenkraft was that there was never going to be a right answer, and that the best way to approach any situation is to have an open mind to try to find the middle ground for everyone. Our conversations in and out of class were always open ended and encouraged you to take a broader view of things. We’re so conditioned to believe that success equals winning, so it was a refreshingly different approach that has helped me grow on a personal level. 

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? What makes Fuqua an amazing environment in which to learn is its candor and transparency in every single avenue. It’s so easy to be focussed on checking all the boxes, but don’t forget to have fun with your 25 Random Things essay! It’s the best place to let your personality shine (one of my fun facts was that I’ve been peed on by five different animals in my life). Prospective applicants should really try to have fun with it and show off their humor, passion and personal accomplishments.

What was your best memory from your Master’s program? This question made my day as I think back to all the great memories I made with my classmates. One of my favorites was when we did Fuqua Reflects. I loved it because we all laughed as we tried to find the best ways to capture the essence of our photos. Did we want them to be funny? Did we want them to be sentimental? What kind of memories did we want to capture? It made us reminisce and dream about a day in the future that we’d all see each other again at Fuqua. I still look at those photos whenever I’m having a tough day.

DON’T MISS: MEET THE MASTERS OF MANAGEMENT