Before coming to Fuqua, I didn’t expect that students would run the school as much as they do. The student-led culture here is very supportive and collaborative, and I think that sets Fuqua apart from others schools.
You have numerous opportunities to lead a team, and countless opportunities to work on them. Students have the power to drive initiatives and leave the school better than they found it. The administration is very supportive in regards to that, and they let us do what we want and need to make the school better. It’s a risk-free environment to test the leadership skills we’ll need in our careers. That’s been very meaningful to me.
Just a few weeks into my first year, I was elected section rep—a leadership position amongst my 75 or so section mates. It meant a great deal to me because I was someone who would never run for anything. It gave me confidence, knowing I had their support to build our community. I appreciated the opportunity to serve my classmates and be the one to represent them in front of the larger school community, and it pushed me as a leader in a way that probably wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.
Many of my duties centered around communication. I’d meet with the other five section reps, and also with Senior Associate Dean Russ Morgan, and the MBA Association (MBAA) co-presidents to talk about issues facing first-year students. The topics varied each week, from student events to recruiting challenges to general business school stress. One thing that came out of these discussions was that based on some concerns we were seeing regarding stress and keeping ourselves mentally healthy, a new health and wellness position was established within the MBAA to help.
One of the highlights for me was organizing a Safari Dinner each term. The four events were progressive dinners where people were randomly paired and would rotate to different locations for appetizers and dinner. It allowed us to go beyond the surface level conversations we might normally have in other settings, and because the pairings we random, we got to know different classmates.
MBAA Vice President
Going into my second year, I was selected for the role of vice president of student organizations. I wanted a way to give back to the school that has given so much to me.
At Fuqua, all the clubs fall under the MBAA, which is student-run and student elected. My job was to direct all the club presidents toward success and be a support mechanism for their event planning. Whereas the section rep role was more of a communication role, this was more about execution. It required a lot of organization and attention, and was very time-consuming.
I spent time over the summer planning our club fair and club info sessions to help the incoming first-year students determine which clubs they wanted to be part of. Along with the MBAA presidents and treasurer, I led the budget process to determine how much funding each club would get, and also helped manage the Fuqua events calendar to ensure there were no conflicts and that the school had the resources to support each event.
Since Fuqua is a student-run school in many ways—and those students cycle in and out every two years—one of the tricky things about the role is looking for ways to preserve current knowledge and practices and help future student leaders access and build on that knowledge base going forward.
A highlight of my work with the MBAA was establishing new guidelines and documents to guide club presidents in transitioning all the information they had to the new presidents. Our hope is that this process improves the ability for clubs to build upon their successes each year when students cycle out.
The Overall Student Leadership Experience
The actions that student leadership at Fuqua take are based on what students tell us. Ultimately, it’s about receiving the feedback we get from my fellow classmates and using it to make Fuqua even better for our class and future classes. Taking on these roles have given me the opportunity for self-reflection and growth, and these experiences will be invaluable in my brand management role post-Fuqua where I will be responsible for leading cross-functional teams.
Just prior to graduation, I was humbled to be among a handful of my classmates who received a student leadership award. It was an incredible honor to be recognized by my peers, and I imagine that when I look back on my time at Fuqua years from now, it’ll serve as a reminder of just how special this place is and how each student has the ability to contribute to each other’s experience. Fuqua provided me with the opportunity to develop further as a leader in a way that will meaningfully impact my career moving forward, and I would encourage any incoming student to take advantage of these opportunities to improve their skills.