I once heard a Fuqua visitor say, “Fuqua seems like an airport. It is always bustling with activity,” to which I immediately quipped, “Perhaps, but busier.”
Personally, my 20 academic weeks at Fuqua have been among the most intense of my life (including the 259 weeks of my professional life that were no picnic either). So, what’s a day like at Fuqua? There is no simple answer, but I want to recount a particularly busy day for me. This is exactly how the day transpired:
6:30 A.M. — I woke up, prepared my agenda for the day, got ready for school, and off I went.
8:00 A.M. — Team meeting at school. We spent the morning debating a case on how a pharmaceutical company should price a new life-saving drug. Pricing is tricky — companies want to fend off competition, offer value to customers, and maximize shareholder return.
10:30 A.M. — Marketing class, and the moment of truth for our earlier meeting. We spent the class discussing what we thought was the optimal price for the drug and the key issues we considered. These in-class discussions are enlightening and frequently bring up points my team and I have not thought about. These classes typically end with how the actual business decision was made and what its impact was. As a result of this teaching methodology, we develop a problem-solving toolkit that is invaluable.
1:00 P.M. — I had a working lunch meeting with the leadership of the South Asian Business Club, INDUS. We went over the final details for an event being hosted by the club, featuring Indian billionaire entrepreneur turned philanthropist Mr. Shiv Nadar. This is one of the standout features of being at Fuqua — there are so many opportunities to listen to leaders of consequence from different walks of life.
2:30 P.M. — Enter Mr. Shiv Nadar. We spent the next hour listening intently to his journey, which made his company one of the leading forces in the global IT industry and him an acclaimed philanthropist. His talk brought up several thought-provoking issues — the business and social opportunities in Indian healthcare, the role the Indian IT industry is playing in providing opportunities to women, and the need for business leaders to be not just relentless, but also restless and paranoid.
4:00 P.M. — After the very impactful talk, it was time to head back to class and appreciate the strategic decisions that organizations must make at inflection points. Our professor of Strategy, John Joseph, had invited a Partner from Bain & Co., Mr. Pratap Mukherji, to share his experience from a real business case to drive home the point about how firms must diversify into adjacent markets and capabilities when they stagnate in their existing markets. I intend to pursue a concentration in Strategy and this was an incredibly useful class — apart from this guest lecture, in this course, we also played a virtual strategy game, discussed a dozen cases, and analyzed the strategy options facing an industry and a company.
6:30 P.M. — With classes over, I headed to the Fox Center to meet one of the second–year students to speak about his approach to recruiting. Business school really opens up a whole lot of job opportunities to students, and interacting with second-years is a great avenue to explore career options.
7:30 P.M. — I met up with some friends for dinner. Dinners (or drinks and any other meals) are a good way to unwind on busy days. Aside from having animated discussions, it is an excellent opportunity to learn about your friends’ days — they are just as busy, but perhaps completely different. The overwhelming feeling emerging from the knowledge of the plethora of activities happening on a typical business school day is easily combatted by dessert (thank God for chocolate!).
9:30 P.M. — I spent the next couple hours completing my readings for the next day. It is pertinent to stay on top of your course work to maximize the learning from the classes.
11:30 P.M. — Finally, it was time to hit the bed and get enough sleep before my 8:00 AM class the next morning.
Prospective students often wonder what a typical day is like at business school. It is not a difficult question to answer, but it is certainly one that has a complex answer —it depends. There are a lot of opportunities available at the school at any time, and your participation is only limited by the fact that a day has only 24 hours. However, there is certainly one underlying theme — every day is different and every day teaches you more than you bargained for. So, come with an open mind, know what you want out of your experience, and be ready to effectively manage and plan your time.