I knew I wanted to come to the U.S. for business school, but I also knew that I wanted to return to my home country, Indonesia, in the long run. About five years ago, I started a social enterprise there called Tatoen, and I knew I wanted to return and continue scaling it.
Fuqua was my choice for business school because of its commitment to social enterprise and its Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE). I felt confident Fuqua could help me reach my goals, and my expectations have been surpassed. I have developed an even more global perspective, strengthened my understanding of Tatoen’s mission, and gained a support network I never could have imagined.
That said, being an international student can be tough sometimes. Everyone here is amazingly talented, and it can feel like it is hard to keep up while adapting to a new culture and adjusting to speaking English as the primary language. But because the culture is supportive rather than competitive, I have flourished here and come even closer to my goal of returning to Indonesia to continue my career.
An Emphasis on Social Enterprise
I started Tatoen, a company that creates ceremonial Muslim garments, with my mother who is a fashion designer. It is a relief to know she can help run day-to-day operations while I am earning my MBA—although there are plenty of middle-of-the-night Skype calls to deal with the time difference!
We originally started Tatoen to create jobs for women in the rural village of Java, Indonesia. These women are often the wives of farmers or truck drivers, and they have the time and the desire to work but little opportunity to do so. At Tatoen, the women do embroidery and beadwork on the garments.
I have devoted my time at Fuqua to exploring every social entrepreneurship offering available—from the CASE Initiative on Impact Investing (CASEi3) during my first year to becoming a CASE fellow my second year. I am also the co-president of the Net Impact Club. These experiences have taught me a lot and have afforded me the opportunity to share my company’s story with my classmates and with Fuqua faculty and staff. Thanks to these conversations, I will be leaving Fuqua with a much more defined sense of our mission. We will be expanding to not only focus on employment for women, but also on education for their children. We are installing a library at Tatoen so the children can practice their reading while their mothers work, and we’re paying women so that they can pay for their children’s education.
Most professors do a great job of incorporating a global worldview into class lectures and activities. For example, when we work on cases, not all of them are U.S.-centric. Cases that involve other nations help to level the playing field and allow international students to share their expertise and perspectives.
We also work on our classwork in diverse teams, which helps everyone expand their worldview and learn new things from one another.
While going through recruiting, I prepared for case interviews with U.S. and international students alike. Everyone was really supportive and encouraging, and the U.S. students had great feedback about how to communicate more concisely and be more direct.
A Well-Aligned Internship
I was fortunate to secure an internship with McKinsey that allowed me to return to Indonesia for the summer between the two years of my program. I was happy to be in close proximity to Tatoen and was able to visit our workshop to hear from our employees and see how things were going. I will be returning to McKinsey full-time after graduation. I am excited to gain even more consulting experience so that I can pair a structured approach to solving problems with my previous financial background I gained from investment banking. Both of these skills will serve me well as I work to grow Tatoen.
While leaving home and coming to the U.S. to study was nerve-wracking at times, I have dealt well with the stress by finding people who I share common passions with. The Net Impact Club allows me to do more activities surrounding sustainability and social impact-related causes, and I am also co-president of the Arts@Fuqua Club. I even joined a student band called Supply & DaBand (a pun on supply and demand—get it?) where I sing and have met some wonderful friends and fellow musicians.