Are you a Fuqua Fit?

The final application deadline for Fuqua’s MMS: FOB program, April 1, 2014, is only a couple of weeks away. If you’re still wondering if you fit the bill of the ideal MMS candidate, this post is aimed at breaking the myth that there, in fact, is an “ideal profile” of an MMS student.

The most important pillar of Fuqua’s philosophy is the idea of “Team Fuqua.” It doesn’t matter if you’ve studied mathematics, physics or humanities in your undergrad, or if you’ve worked for three years prior to the program or not. If you can be an effective member of Team Fuqua, you belong here. And to show that there isn’t one perfect candidate for the program, we will be introducing you to some of the students of the MMS Class of 2014. First in this series is Kishin Wadhwani.

Introduction: Kishin Wadhwani, a resident of Mountain View, California, went to University of Virginia for his undergrad, where he majored in Foreign Affairs. He is heavily interested in technology and entrepreneurship. In his junior (third) year of school, he had to write a business plan for one of his classes, and received a bad grade on it. However, the entrepreneurship bug caught his fancy and he launched his own e-commerce venture. He decided to come to the MMS program to sharpen his business skills and plug the knowledge gaps.

Q. How did your undergraduate background affect your decision to come to Fuqua?
A. I chose to major in Foreign Affairs because I was always keenly interested in comparative political systems. However, it was a theoretical discipline, and while fascinating, I felt the need to supplement it with a practical skillset. Together, politics and business fuel the infrastructure and systems of the world, and this was the common thread of interest for me, triggering my decision to get a business education.

Q. Do you find any synergies in your undergraduate major and the MMS courses?
A. Yes – I feel business and foreign affairs are complimentary fields. In addition to the fact that politics and business drive each other in most countries of the world, a study of foreign affairs gives an institutional view of “why people do what they do.” Business gives us the opportunity to explore those decisions at a micro level.

Q. How do you think your undergrad training has impacted your perception of the business world? What are some of the most pressing challenges for our generation?
A. In undergrad, we looked at issues from a compartmentalized mindset. However, graduate business education is interdisciplinary, forcing us to take account of problems and consequences from multiple perspectives, and be more empathetic.

The challenge, in my opinion, is the flight towards commoditization. Whether it is a physical product or a service, the chase to the bottom (to achieve highest cost efficiency) has come at the cost of quality. To say that profit maximization is the sole purpose of business would be a pigeonholed point of view. It is striking the balance between competing incentives that’s a challenge for us to solve.

Q. Which skill from your undergrad, in your opinion, has been the most valuable for you in the MMS program so far?
A. Working with vast amounts of data, synthesizing and analyzing it in a limited amount of time has definitely been the skill that has been the handiest in the MMS program.

Q. What has been the most effective/ memorable aspect of the program for you so far? What would you change?
A. For me, having access to a great network of people – the professors, guest speakers and visitors from the business world – has been the best part of the program. I especially enjoyed the Innovation and Energy panels organized at Fuqua.

Given the volume of work we have with curriculum and recruiting, we have a tendency to limit our community to other Fuqua students. While we have cross-disciplinary networking events, I would like to bring students from all graduate schools at Duke closer together.

Ashima Sehgal

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MMS, Class of 2014. Find out more about me...

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