Wednesday 13 September 2017

Was the Duke MBA Worth It?

Yes, and not just for the reasons you think. Going beyond business, it taught me some surprising life lessons.
My classmates and I graduated a few months ago as proud MBAs. We kept our full-time jobs, studied as students both in-person and by distance, traveled to international residencies across five countries, and bonded over world adventures and 10,000-plus group text messages.
When people ask if it was a good investment and what I learned, how can I describe the experience and the newfound wisdom? Reflecting back on the past two years, a Duke MBA is worth much more than a business degree as I learned some powerful life lessons.
Listen to Your Younger Self and Don’t Stop Laughing
As adults, we tend to allow our day-to-day responsibilities overtake the younger carefree versions of ourselves. My best MBA experiences involved dancing with blisters, talking into odd hours of the night, traveling to new places, and watching sunrises. We don’t nearly live these moments often enough as we get older.
As grown-ups, we often let pride stop us from asking for help because we feel like we should know better. But the reality is that no one knows what they’re doing. We’re all just trying to make good choices with the information we have. Like a business case study, there are no right answers in life. You take chances and make decisions on the incomplete data you have. And your younger self will be the inner voice that tells you to seek adventure, stop and laugh, and look fear in the face.
Find People That Make Goodbyes Easy Because It’s Not Really Goodbye
A Winnie the Pooh quote about goodbyes, was my MBA worth itSome classmates joined the Cross Continent MBA program because they had never left the country and wanted international exposure. For others, we chose this experience because it matched our lifestyles. We’re often labeled as “nomads” or “globetrotters,” never staying in a place more than a couple of years and buying as many one-way tickets as round-trips.
In a bittersweet way, this means that we’ve become adept at saying goodbye. I went to graduation to close this chapter as I had every time other experiences ended. To my surprise, no one said goodbye that weekend. Perhaps the nature of the program got us used to coming together every few weeks and then working on virtual teams. There were no tears, just celebration and laughter. The hugs were normal hugs that you give someone at the end of the night or after a vacation. It was as if we knew we’d see each other again soon. It was refreshing. It was beautiful.
You’re Not an Island and You’re Never Alone
I spent the better part of my adult life priding myself on being fiercely independent—living life on my own terms—but this experience has shown me how na├»ve I’ve been. Friends and family were always there even if it wasn’t obvious. Particularly for the past two years, I was never on my own. Dukies were always there. It was my classmates and their friends who helped me move apartments and climb 6,500-foot cliffs. They were there to attend my martial arts black belt ceremony. It was a Dukie I first called when my grandmother passed away.
I was never alone and the Fuqua community was there even when I didn’t realize I needed people the most. They say an MBA is good networking for your career prospects, but I find the most valuable aspect is to have people in your corner when life doesn’t work out the way you planned. Because when you don’t get the dream job, when you’re disappointed, or when that unimaginable Thursday afternoon phone call comes, you realize that you’re never alone no matter how many miles away you may be.
Growth and Character Come from Tough Places Rather than Checkmark Successes
A quote about life testing a person's will, was my MBA worth itWhen I met my classmates, their professional and personal successes easily impressed me. However, I soon learned the raw tragedies that became a part of their stories. Sick parents, the death of loved ones, diseases, divorces, heartbreaks, the feeling of not being good enough or doing enough. In an MBA program, you get to see people holistically as the blurry lines between the professional and personal reveal accomplishments and personal battles. Though tragedies don’t define people, the scars are to be remembered and the comebacks to be admired.
I find it ironic, but not coincidental that two of the hardest years of my life were also the best. I didn’t realize it then, but I spent the last two years experiencing the pain and the happiness of falling in love. With my classmates, with the experience, with life all over again with both its ups and downs.
Trust the Journey as You Chase After the Opposite of Loneliness
I recently took up surfing, and they say that you can never win against the ocean. Like life, you’ll often wipe out, but it’s worth it to catch that one perfect wave. I’ve learned to trust the experience and continue hustling. One moment, the world is crashing down on you, the next moment, you’re living and working near the beach with a sun-kissed tan. And that Duke MBA? It’s the best safety net there is.
A quote about life taking unpredictable turns, was my MBA worth it
In her final essay, Marina Keegan wrote, “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life…It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team.”
A good MBA will teach business and management skills. A great MBA will provide you with a network of people to call on for anything. An extraordinary MBA, like the one I found at Fuqua, will empower you to become the best version of yourself and motivate you to help others on their journeys to better themselves.
Sometimes I wished a did a full-time MBA program as I could have seen the people I loved every day. Then again, the Daytime MBAs were jealous of us traveling the world with 100-plus friends while pulling in a professional salary. Everyone’s MBA experience will be different, but what I do know is that it’s an understatement when they welcome you into the Fuqua community. You’re joining a family, and you’re joining a tribe. And if you’re lucky like me, you’ll find love and the opposite of loneliness.

Friday 19 August 2016

Why Diversity at Fuqua Gives Me Hope for Tomorrow

A version of this post was originally published on the Duke Cross Continent MBA Student Blog from the Fuqua School of Business. 

It’s 3:30 a.m. and I can’t sleep. This happens from time to time as the 80% humidity in New England makes a summer heat wave unbearable. But perhaps, the world has finally caught up with me.
As a content writer and an MBA student studying international business, I spend a significant amount of my time reading current events. In terms of seeing theory put into practice, there’s no better time to study global business than now.
As a part of Fuqua’s program, my classmates and I travel to five different regions of the world and examine macroeconomic trends and political institutions in our core course Global Markets and Institutions. While in Latin America, we analyzed the spiraling economic indicators of the Brazilian recession. We’re currently studying the elements of government structures in the Middle East and watched with great interest the coup attempt in Turkey.
We’ve seen firsthand, the incredibly tough and chaotic times in the world. It hurts that by the time I finish writing this piece, there will likely be another mass shooting—one that could have been prevented. It hurts that we need a movement asking for lives to matter, because it’s a given that lives should matter in the first place.
But I know this brokenness isn’t all of the world, nor is it how the world has to be.
Through the Cross Continent MBA, the world I’ve experienced is one where an American-born Syrian, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, and a bi-racial mom can travel together for a shared dream of visiting the Taj Mahal, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”
four classmates standing in front of the Taj Mahal provide a great representation of diversity at Fuqua
The world I know is one where days later, my classmates and I would celebrate our own version of Holi, known as the “Festival of Colors”, as colored water and powders are playfully thrown around family and friends. It’s a celebration of colors and love. How appropriate I get to celebrate with my friends who identify as black, Jewish, Colombian, brown, Nigerian, white, Indian, and more?
students celebrating Holi symbolizes the diversity at Fuqua
The world I know is where individuals originally from Pakistan and India, two countries with a long history of tension, can stand as friends in front of the remnants of the Berlin Wall, a symbolic paradigm of a city once divided and now united. And where two Americans, one raised Buddhist, one raised Muslim, can share in their interests and similarities while celebrating their differences.
students posing in front of the Berlin Wall, diversity at FuquaIn another core course, Culture, Civilizations, and Leadership, we study cultural frameworks to apply as we work through business situations.  What I love is that we’re able to have tough conversations in and out of the classroom. On separate occasions after nearly 12-hour days of classes and activities, 70-plus of my classmates gathered to honestly ask one another questions and discuss our personal experiences around race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, and more. We listened to each other’s perspectives without judgment.
Though I’m proud to be a part of this community and proud to have a dean that encourages empathy amongst disagreeing perspectives, I know as a business school and as individual leaders of consequence, there’s more we can do around diversity and inclusion systematically as a school and personally with our biases. But when I look at these photos, the diversity at Fuqua and celebration of it, it gives me hope for the future and reminds me that even in the toughest times #LoveAlwaysWins.

Monday 9 May 2016

How My MBA Training Saved Me on a 6,500-Foot Cliff

A version of this post was originally published on the Duke Cross Continent MBA Student Blog from the Fuqua School of Business. 

My MBA training came in handy on this mountaintop
My travel mates designated as “Team Xi’an”

MBA lessons can prove practical in unlikely places.
I’m hanging off the side of Mount Huashan in China, dubbed “one of the most dangerous and terrifying hikes in the world.” Attached to the mountain by a questionable 4-foot harness, I have to walk across a 1-foot wide wooden plank. Looking down more than a mile to the ground, I’m remembering that I’m deathly afraid of heights.
Of course, this was my idea to begin with.
This past summer, my 114 classmates and I began our MBA journey as a part of the Class of 2016 in the Fuqua School of Business Cross Continent MBA Program. Living and working in various parts of the world, we enrolled in the working professional program to allow ourselves to earn an MBA while keeping our full-time jobs. A core part of the program is to attend international class residencies and essentially travel the world studying, going on corporate visits, and immersing ourselves into various cultures.
Krystina - MBA Lessons plank walk
Hiking the “Plank Walk” at Mount Huashan…smiles cover up our fear of heights!

Our first international residency was to the powerhouse of China, whom the IMF deemed the world’s largest economy just a few months prior. A handful of us decided to arrive one week early to explore Xi’an before classes began. During my travel research, every web site stated that we couldn’t miss out on the infamous “Plank Walk” at Mount Huashan, a sacred Taoist mountain located in the Shaanxi Province.
The route is a complicated one. After about 2.5 hours of climbing up steep, vertical staircases (and we took one of the easier routes), the trail leads to the edge of a cliff. Before reaching the “Plank Walk,” there are steel rods about 2 inches long and holes in the rocks to climb down. The wooden plank is only a foot wide and to top it all off, there is only one exit. So as you attempt to walk or climb one way, there are other people attempting to walk or climb the other way around you. Carpe diem!
Flashing back to day 2 of our MBA orientation during the first residency at Duke, every student went through a team-building ropes course in small groups at the Triangle Training Center. The goal was to practice our teamwork and communication skills, capitalizing on each other’s strengths while identifying and improving upon our weaknesses. As I was hiking in China, I couldn’t have imagined that the same skill sets we worked on during the ropes course (and the entire class term) would come into play.
Krystina - MBA Lessons blue devilThe Blue Devil was a crucial member of the hiking team!

While climbing down the cliff, I couldn’t see directly below me, so I depended on my classmate to tell me exactly where to put my feet. Afterwards, I had to direct my other classmate where to go and predict the upcoming path for her. As people attempted to walk around us (and often we didn’t speak the same languages), split-second decisions had to be made to stay on the safest route. More importantly, given somehow that we all were afraid of heights (no one wanted to admit it until the few days leading up to the hike of course), we had to support each other so we could face our fears and encourage each other to push through the exhaustion from the long day.
When I first researched Duke, I knew of the emphasis placed around teamwork—which is not necessarily the case at other business schools. However “Team Fuqua” was simply a phrase I had heard before starting the Cross Continent program. As this experience has shown me and as every day passes, I’ve found that the spirit of “Team Fuqua” goes beyond a methodology. It’s a community of trust that has taught me to be a better leader, teammate, and communicator that can take on a boardroom or a 6,500-foot cliff.
Watch the video to see Krystina and her team’s treacherous route

Wednesday 9 March 2016

3 Things Managers Can Do for Gender Equality (Leading to Better Teams and More Profits)

This post was co-written by Robin Moriarty, PhD.
Early on in my career, I interviewed for an Analyst position with the Managing Director of a Wall Street bank, a fifty-something-year-old male. After the typical interview questions, the conversation took an unforeseen turn as he took a keen an interest in my background — nonprofit work on social issues — as it was atypical from other interviewees. After discussing some of the topics I had worked on in the past, he inquired, “Tell me. As a manager, what can I do for gender equality?”
Study after study shows that diverse teams produce better results. We know that companies with women in leadership positions are also more profitable. Though we have data and have built general consensus that gender equality is yes, a good thing for successful business outcomes, what concrete actions can we actually take?
While it must be recognized that there are systematic barriers and HR policies that formally contribute (or don’t contribute) to gender equality, here are three practical tips that managers can employ if they want to start removing gender bias from their organizations:
1. Evaluate performance reviews based on performance metrics rather than primarily on an employee’s personality characteristics

A 2014 study by Kieran Snyder demonstrated that regardless of the manager’s gender, women are more likely to be given negative feedback surrounding personality rather than performance. Even when critical feedback was provided to men, it offered constructive suggestions around work.

Language was key: often, negative words associated with personality characteristics such as “bossy, abrasive, emotional, aggressive, and irrational” were used to judge female behavior, while only the use of “aggressive” to describe personality — which can often be perceived as a positive trait depending on the organization and industry — could be found in men’s reviews.


One solution that Business Insider suggests is “to be clear and consistent about the criteria on which employees are evaluated.” Stating this criteria up front, and including both business metrics and behavior expectations, is critical for laying the groundwork for fair performance reviews.

Additionally, when reviewing behaviors, which are important to business and organizational success, try flipping the script. Ask, “How would we judge a man for doing the same thing?” as Frank Bruni suggested in his latest New York Times editorial "If Donald Trump Changed Genders." Flipping the script can help a manager to reveal when perceptions of behavior are related to gender and then decide how to handle accordingly.

Considering that performance evaluations lead to promotions and pay increases, it is important to recognize and correct for our biases to ensure that staff are evaluated on the quality of their performance and not on unintentional gender biases.

2. Ask employees what they can/can’t do rather than make assumptions about their personal lives

A rising star’s name was recently brought up during a meeting for a new project lead. Another colleague had mentioned that she was pregnant and unfortunately the position would require international travel. Instead of leaving the discussion there and assuming that she would not be interested in traveling or taking the lead, one of her sponsors made the smart move of actually consulting her. The result? She was more than willing to take on the role, travel included, and the project was a success.

Alternatively, I’ve also seen situations in the reverse: one of my single, male friends was assumed to be fully capable of travel because he didn’t have commitments to “tie him down.” He eventually left the company because of fatigue from jetting around the country all the time. The company lost a valuable employee because of assumptions about his personal life.

Through implicit assumptions, a manager could mistakenly believe that they know enough about an employee’s situation to make decisions for them. Therefore, as a good rule of thumb, regardless if the employee is a man, woman, young, old, married, or single, it’s important to talk to the individual to see if they can and want to do the special project or take on the bigger role. Don’t let your own assumptions about someone else’s personal life drive decisions about their future.

3. Facilitate meetings so all voices are heard

As Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have pointed out, there is often an unfortunate bias that can occur during meetings. They observe, “When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea.” I’ve also seen this happen with senior vs. junior members, older vs. younger colleagues, experts vs. generalists, and certain nationalities vs. other nationalities. When interruptions occur or one team member’s comments are overlooked, it takes great employees to notice this and call it out as well as a great leader to facilitate the meeting in a more inclusive direction.

Project Aristotle at Google had researchers examine what made successful (and therefore profitable) teams. They found that “on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘’equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.” Thus, it’s in the manager interest and team’s benefit that all team members are heard and heard well. As research shows that women’s comments are dismissed and even punished compared to men’s comments, facilitating inclusive meetings can help address gender bias that occurs on a routine basis.

Gender equality and open, diverse environments are a must in today’s businesses. By being intentional in these practical approaches, managers can contribute to reducing gender bias and having more successful teams.

Monday 14 December 2015

Are Millennials Redefining the American Dream?

An original version of this blog can be found on The Huffington Post here.

This post was co-written by Robin Moriarty, PhD.

Daily articles are written about Millennials, but are they really that different from their Baby Boomer parents?

Get a cubicle job, a perfect marriage, two large cars, and a white-picket fence in the suburbs. Though these symbols are often associated as key to the “American Dream,” they are based on a post-WWII1950s world, a world that looks much different sixty years later.

When the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946 to 1964) came-of-age, the core beliefs in working hard for success, prosperity, and social mobility existed, but Boomers added the ideas of self-realization and self-fulfillment — so much that they were dubbed the “Me Generation” (which only a few seemed to remember after Time Magazine published a cover naming Millennials as the “Me Me Me Generation”).

Now Boomers are hurling the stereotypes of narcissism and entitlement to a whole generation made up of their own Millennial offspring (generally defined as born 1980 and after). But are the Millennials actually that different from the Boomers? After all, the core, capitalistic American value of achievement and success is alive and well across both generations. Perhaps the younger generation isn’t having a shift in fundamental values, but rather Millennials are simply defining the symbols of success differently and in a way that makes sense given the economic and technological realities of their generation.

(Note: According to Pew Research, a nonpartisan fact tank, the often overlooked Generation X (born 1965-1979) experiences the left out "middle child" syndrome in these debates particularly as they only represent 65 million vs. the 75+ million each of the Baby Boomers and Gen Y/Millennials.).

After the post-war economy of the mid-20th century, corporations were profitable, consumer goods were plentiful, and opportunity was ripe. Thus, for the Boomers, “success” has typically meant focusing on financial stability (the bigger the salary the better!), a high-achieving career, living a suburban lifestyle, and owning assets from big houses to fancy cars.

The Millennials grew up in quite different times in the world. Many graduated at the height of the recession with tuition skyrocketing over 1,120 percent since 1978, saw their parents struggling to keep a work/life balance, experienced their formative years hyper-connected and more global than ever, and had years of dealing with increasing severity of issues from climate change to gun violence. Thus, “success” seems to mean an abundance of experiences rather than an abundance of things, a career that provides a basic level of financial enjoyment as well as one that's fulfilling a passion, a lifestyle that promotes health, and social media accounts that depict all these achievements (whether for better or for worse).

Lauren Stiller Rikleen, President of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and author of You Raised Us, Now Work with Us: Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams, writes:
Millennials reject the notion that success is measured by income and long hours... They see success as including the opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their families. And they are not embarrassed to include among their key priorities the need to exercise and maintain friendships. Further, they will seek workplaces where the growth and development of employees are a strategic focus and where a culture of inclusion and respect is a priority.
The real question is whether the Millennials’ current definition of success will change. Are these simply characteristics of a life phase and Millennials will eventually become like their Baby Boomer counterparts seeking material symbols to show off their success? Or is it going to be a long-term, sustained difference of focus on experiences rather than things? After all, once upon a time, the Boomers themselves were hippies who also demanded social change through the human rights movement and questioned authority before settling in to the pursuit of happiness via the pursuit of things.
Until then, let’s end the back-and-forth between the two generations. After all, the mid-90s born teenagers of Generation Z are set to overtake us all.

Monday 24 August 2015

Find Your Passion, but More Importantly, Find Your People

An original version of this blog can be found on The Huffington Post here.

According to the Conference Board, a New York-based research nonprofit group, only 48.7% of American employees are satisfied with their job. Career articles advise working-age adults to “Find Your Passion,” but the issue’s still difficult to figure out how. The reality is that there’s no guidebook out there as our lives are so diversely unique.

If you are in the predicament of figuring out your passion, it is recognized that you are ultimately a part of a privileged group. How lucky are we to have the time, stability, and choice to figure what we want? Unfortunately, choices and expectations themselves can be unknown and overwhelming. I fear; however, that we too often get stuck in our day-to-day routines and miss out on what we truly need...that perhaps we get so blinded by what we’ve always done that we can’t identify and lose track of what we actually want. But most importantly, because of this pursuit of a higher meaning, we often forget the people around us.

Throughout the years, I’ve become convinced that more important than trying to figure out a passion is building a foundation of good people, those of whom may ultimately lead you to unexpected paths and unpredictable careers. And simply enough, when you’re surrounded by good people, life just gets better.

There are certain transformative experiences that demonstrated to me that relationship-building trumps any individual pursuit.
  • Collective activism is more empowering than your own journey - In 2006, the United Nations Secretary-General estimated that 2.7 billion people lived on less than $2.00 a day. I felt a calling to do whatever I could and set out to serve for 27 months with the US Peace Corps in West Africa. The Cameroonian community members I lived and worked with; however, taught me more than any technical skills I taught them. We may have lacked electricity and a budget, but we were able to create a community market for 8,000 residents based on the power of bringing people together and a strong a sense of community.

  • A good network can alleviate doubts and encourage action - StartingBloc is a 5-day institute that has brought to date 2,000 Fellows together to cultivate social impact ideas. In August 2014, Kat Alexander came in with a small website called Report, It Girl that serves as a safe and moderated space for survivors of sexual assault to heal. It had zero user-submitted stories and though a survivor herself, she didn’t know if it was worth pursuing. Her pitch was voted first place, another Fellow soon joined her team, and the community even kept her accountable to pursuing her idea. One year later, Report It, Girl has grown to 3,000+ users globally, is fiscally sponsored by Sexual Health Innovations, and was featured on Fast Forward’s tech-nonprofits list. Her next step as CEO beyond scale and funding? She plans to connect to other social entrepreneurs to continuously grow her network of good people.

  • Supporting others on their paths can be humbling and motivating - If you dare stereotype Millennials as lazy, visit one of the residencies of Duke Fuqua’s Cross Continent MBA. Each year, 100+ students enroll to complete an MBA in 1.5 years while working full-time jobs. The students are professionally successful and individually ambitious, but we’ve a built a “we’re-all-in-this-together” mentality. Need an accounting help at 11pm? Want 100 people to cheer you on after a triathlon? Contact a fellow CCMBA classmate...or even all of them. Academically, this program is teaching me how little I know. Personally, after meeting each other at our first two-week residency, I’ve feel like I may be at home within the network based around the world.

I have a friend who's a fighter pilot for the Marines Corps and flies and F-35, the newest stealth fighter plane in the world. He's the toughest guy I know with bucket list items checked off form running 50-mile races to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Even fighter pilots; however, must always fly with 2-4 other jets in formation serving as wingmen. Their mantra is built on system of mutual support to always look out for one another. The last time we spoke, I asked him about what retired fighter pilots miss the most. Was it the covert missions? Flying jet planes? The most common answer was simply "brotherhood."

You don’t necessarily need to sacrifice large amounts time or money for transformational experiences or to find good people. Building and cultivating a network could be in the form a Lean in Circle or simply appreciating your family and friends.

At the end of the day, find your passion, but more importantly find your people. They may just get you to your passion after all.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

5 Must-Dos for Preparing for the Cross Continent MBA Program at Duke University

A version of this post was originally published on the Duke Cross Continent MBA Student Blog from the Fuqua School of Business. 

The wait is finally over and I’m here on campus at Fuqua for Cross Continent MBA (CCMBA) orientation. As excited as I am, I can’t help but reflect back a few weeks to my thoughts as this MBA journey was about to begin.

It was two weeks before the course materials arrived for our reading period, and just one month before orientation and our first residency. I felt like an 18-year-old undergraduate again, getting ready for the first day of college. How challenging is it going to be? What will my classmates be like? Will the food really be as good as everyone makes it out to be?

This time around, however, I’ll have a little over six years of work experience under my belt, continue a full-time job on top of being a student, run a career consultancy on the side, have significant bills and responsibilities including these new student loans on top of my current student loans—did I mention I chose to put myself through this?

Alas, the academics, travel, cultural experiences and Team Fuqua network makes choosing the CCMBA a winning choice for me. As I’ve received a ton of advice from others, I’d like to pass on my 5 must-dos for MBA preparation in Fuqua’s Cross Continent program.

 My classmates during our Fuqua scavenger hunt on the first day of orientation  

Get started early on the preparatory work.

I can’t emphasize this one enough! Our class had to work through 20 to 40 hours of MBA, turn in an accounting quiz after watching and reading accounting lectures, and fill out tons of paperwork on the Incoming Student Website (ISW).

I applied during Round 2 to increase my chances of a scholarship and then started doing the early assignments for incoming students consistently in April. By the time the middle of June rolled around, I was essentially done with them and didn’t have to deal with stressing to make any deadlines. Plus, you can help out your future CCMBA friends and classmates with advice on how to best navigate the process for which they’ll be truly grateful! (Note: for, my strategy was to skip the pre-quizzes as it will save you time, especially in the subjects where you’re more proficient, but make sure you ace the post-quizzes!).

Connect with classmates on social media and start networking as soon as possible.

Filling out my student bio on the ISW and joining the CCMBA ’16 LinkedIn and Facebook groups were the first things I did. This allowed a slew of streaming requests and personal messages to and from fellow classmates. I also attended a Fuqua Around the World event.
What were the results of getting connected before class started? I was able to have study sessions with other Boston-based students, commiserate immediately when receiving emails about the amount of things to do, and even collaborate on ventures (I had a LinkedIn exchange encouraging another student to start her own career consultancy and we’ll be giving each other future referrals in the areas of our expertise—the power of Duke!). One student created a WhatsApp group that 50 of us have joined, so it’s a lot of texts, but you’ll get everything useful from soccer results to when new action items go up on the ISW that require your attention.

quote that relates to MBA preparation 


 Cut out the fat.

This is my new mantra in life in general. With limited hours in the day for everything, I’ve decided to only do the things that absolutely must get done or I really want to do. Doctor checkup? Crucial for my health. Read that pile of magazines that I’ve been meaning to get to? Sorry, they get thrown in the trash. I don’t apply this rule to my cooking though, especially as I love bacon.:)


Accept that life is not going to stop for you.

Hanging out with this little guy in Panama was the perfect pre-MBA vacation!

I told my friends and family that my life for the next 1.5 years would be working, studying, and working out. Beyond prepping for CCMBA in the last few weeks, I’ve torn an ankle tendon and started physical therapy, underwent the joys of apartment hunting, and was asked to take on a new position at work. Life’s a ride no matter the choices we make, so hang on tight!


It’s summertime in North America, so hit the beach. Travel, binge on Netflix, spend time with your favorite people, and even reach out to ones that you haven’t seen in a while. They’ll be excited for the next chapter of your life too!

These are things that I’ve realized while jumping into the journey of full-time professional and part-time student. If you have any questions about your own must-dos before starting the admissions process and CCMBA journey, reach out to Admissions. They can help and even put you in touch with current students who can share their unique insights.