Duke Daytime MBA Student Blog
Experiential Learning as an MBA Student at Fuqua
As an international student, most of my education followed the traditional classroom learning route where one’s academic success was measured on one’s ability to recall information from memory. During the course of my professional career, I figured out that I learned much better and grew much faster when I got my hands dirty while doing things as compared to just theoretical learning. And consequently, one of the main reasons why I chose to attend Fuqua was its strong focus on leadership development through experiential learning.
Before school started, I had spoken to several alumni in informal gatherings and official Fuqua alumni mixers and everyone encouraged me to make the most of the experiential learning opportunities at Fuqua. They shared fond memories of the insights they gained through leadership positions within clubs, the Admissions Ambassador positions, Fuqua Client Consulting Practicums, COLE Fellowship and Improv Club among many other opportunities. Hearing this, I couldn’t wait for school to start!
Lessons at Fuqua
Classes at Fuqua begin much earlier in the year than classes at other schools. This is because Fuqua has a unique 4-week Global Institute (GI) program before Fall Term 1. GI features 3 core courses with an intent to help students develop a deep understanding of the multifaceted global business environment: Leadership, Ethics, and Organizations; Global Institutions and Environments; and Consequential Leadership.
The Consequential Leadership course or “C-Lead” was the most fun course I have ever had. It is a series of workshops and experiential learning activities designed to build collaborative and consequential leadership skills in Fuquans. The C-Lead course kicked off with an improv session, where we had stand-up comedians and other experts train us on the fine art of improvisational performance.
We were able to quickly lose our inhibitions and think on our feet to deliver short performances to our team members. I learned to balance the tension between talking and listening in a team setting and build off each other’s ideas while having fun, in the context of improvisational performance.
The intensity of the C-Lead course heightened during Team Challenge Day. It was a full day outdoor team building event for the incoming Fuqua Class of 2017. It was hosted in the scenic facilities of the Triangle Training Center, about 20 miles away from Fuqua. The day was focused on developing leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving skills in a team context.
Our entire class is made up of 6 sections of about 75 students each, who take first-year core classes together. For Team Challenge Day our section was further divided into sub-teams of about 7 students. We participated in a series of outdoor activities and games which tested our physical and mental endurance. The highlight of the day was scaling “The Wall” where each student was required to climb a 10-foot wall—a Fuqua tradition for the past 20 years. Throughout the day, I learned to step outside my comfort zone to take on seemingly impossible tasks and succeed with the help of my teammates. Team Challenge Day would be forever etched in my memory
During the following weeks, we immersed ourselves in other experiential learning activities as well, such as: “Leading in the Community” with Durham’s Habitat for Humanity, where we helped build and refurbish houses to benefit the local community; “Team Roundtables” where we learned about appreciating cultural diversities and anticipating their effect within a multi-cultural team setting; and “Crafting the Team Charter” where we drafted a guiding constitution for our respective C-Lead teams in order to establish a framework for successful collaboration going forward.
The Value Going Forward
All these experiences contributed tremendously to understanding myself as a leader and as a team player. The C-Lead experience will definitely hold me in good stead throughout my MBA experience and in my professional career. The best part about these experiences was that, after spending so much time with my section mates, I felt like I had gained a new family.
I know that the next two years will be an exciting roller coaster ride with my fellow Fuquans. And I know that the Fuqua family is something that will last a lifetime.