Duke Daytime MBA Student Blog
Why I Decided I Needed to Learn to Speak the Language of Business
The languages I speak, as well as my reflections on home and borders, is what led me to pursue an MBA at Fuqua.
Language has always been a guiding force in my life, opening doors and windows that have shaped the course of my personal path and career. My experiences with languages beyond English have not been limited to a classroom. I have spent more than half of my life immersed in German and Spanish.
My world view, forged by the pursuit of language, has been facilitated by my ability to move among the many places I have called home, and most impacted by the people in my life who haven’t had this ability. The languages I speak, and more importantly don’t speak, as well as my reflections on home and borders is what led me to pursue an MBA at Fuqua.
While working at a language school in Mexico after college, I relished the opportunity to immerse myself in every layer of the school, from transitioning the institution’s finances from clunky Excel sheets to accounting software, to forming lifelong ties with community members.
Growing into my position was a thrilling, uphill battle. Not only did I have to convince my team that even though I was much younger than most staff and students, I was qualified to manage the English and Spanish programs. As an American, with a majority Mexican staff, I also had to convince my colleagues that I deserved this responsibility.
I came to realize that my differences proved to be my greatest strength. I could speak Spanish fluently and had a deep understanding of Mexican cultural and societal norms. Coming from the U.S. and having lived in Europe, I could also relate to and advocate for our international students, serving as a unique bridge between the two groups.
My journey with education also brought me to Vienna, Austria. Volunteering with Middle Eastern refugees while participating in a co-sponsored Austrian Ministry of Education and Fulbright program, I was reminded of how precarious the idea of home can be.
Through teaching German and English, I formed meaningful relationships with young men who, pushed to the brink of desperation, left everything behind, only to encounter significant roadblocks to building sustainable lives in their new home. We could relate to each other as foreigners in the land of schnitzel and Mozart, forging new lives and ways of being in Austria, but faced drastically different realities due to the passports we held.
After Austria, I came back to Mexico. Building a life in Mexico on and off for eight years throughout my twenties gave me a unique outlook on borders and the definition of home. By the time I left, I felt the same sense of home in the middle of a Packers football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin as I did walking through my neighborhood market in Queretaro, Mexico.
While traversing the borders of the two countries I love so dearly is as simple as purchasing a plane ticket, I know that for so many others it involves extreme hardship and means that some borders may never be crossed again, or they may be forced to cross back.
My experiences in education led me to pursue work with a financial public relations firm because I realized my toolkit was missing critical vocabulary and hard skills that would have allowed me to leave a more profound impact.
Entering the public relations industry introduced me to the beauty of conscious capitalism through my work with sustainable investing clients, and allowed me to begin to acquire the language of business. Working with wealth and asset management clients was also personally very empowering because it gave me the tools and language to better understand personal finance and the inner workings of the financial industry.
While working in both the education and public relations sectors allowed me to form meaningful connections with individuals and businesses around the globe, and understand what change is possible, to truly make this change lasting and farther reaching, I realized I wanted a seat at the table in the spaces that hold the most power, using the language of those in the room.
I chose Fuqua because I felt that it is the right place for me to align the vision that has shaped my life – a global outlook rooted in authentic human connection and compassion – with the business toolbox I seek to acquire with an MBA.
Business has the unique ability to touch lives across borders, for both good and bad. At Fuqua, I am proud to be surrounded by classmates that are determined to use this power for good. My journey here has only just begun and I know so much learning is yet to come.
As a Forte Foundation Fellow and through my involvement on the Net Impact leadership cabinet, the Fuqua Consulting Club and the Fuqua Tech Club, I look forward to continue finding ways to learn the language of business and work towards becoming a more effective changemaker.