Duke Daytime MBA Student Blog
Growing a Woman-Founded Business Through Experiential Learning
Fuqua has multiple experiential learning opportunities, and I recommend students explore these opportunities to find the right fit for them.
Last year, I took the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP) which is an experiential learning course at Fuqua that allows students to consult with real clients and solve real business problems. It is a great team-based opportunity to gain work experience in a new industry or function, work on solving challenging problems, and practice applying the skills and knowledge you have learned at Fuqua in a safe environment.
I had an incredible FCCP experience, and there were two reasons for this. First, I had an amazing FCCP team. It was an all-women team with diverse skill sets. From finance and product management to health care and D&I recruiting, each team member brought a unique experience and perspective to the table.
Second, we were lucky to have a great client that our team was passionate about. I chose the FCCP project based on the kinds of challenges I wanted to solve and the type of company I wanted to work with. I knew I wanted to work on marketing and growth strategy, and I wanted exposure to a new industry. Our client, The Underbelly, was the perfect fit.
Helping a Local Woman-Founded Business Grow
The Underbelly (UB) is a woman-founded wellness brand based in Durham that wanted help addressing a few critical challenges: UB wanted to grow its subscriber base, grow merchandise revenue, and develop an email marketing strategy.
We worked with our faculty advisor Stephanie Knight to understand UB’s core needs and develop a work scope for the project, including an engagement and retention strategy for email and social media, along with strategies for merchandise sales growth. Our team conducted competitor research to inform how UB could better position and differentiate itself in the market by leaning into its core values. We also compared UB’s key engagement metrics to industry benchmarks to identify areas of improvement.
We used this analysis to come up with our recommendations for our final presentation. Then, we identified ways for UB to stay on top of changing consumer preferences, and ways for UB to better segment and target their subscribers. Finally, we also provided a merchandising strategy along with a model that would help with forecasting and modeling sales and seasonality of products.
Developing Skills and Making an Impact
The most valuable part of my FCCP experience was getting practical work experience during the school year and increasing my job prospects. I was pursuing my MBA to pivot job functions and enhance my strategic thinking skills, so being able to talk with prospective employers about the FCCP project and the skills I developed was invaluable.
Seeing UB implement our recommendations was also very rewarding – our hard work was worth it because we were making a real impact and helping a small business grow. I specifically remember how excited and proud our team felt when UB updated its website consistent with our feedback during a client meeting, and we hadn’t even made our final recommendations yet!
Fuqua has multiple experiential learning opportunities, and I recommend students explore these opportunities to find the right fit for them. FCCP can be time-consuming. You’re balancing teamwork and client expectations in addition to other classes and club commitments—thus, my advice to prospective students or current students considering FCCP is to choose a project you are passionate about. That said, I would highly recommend FCCP to career-switchers, ensuring you secure a client or project that is very closely aligned with your future career aspirations, and to those of you who “learn by doing” and want to augment your in-class learnings with real-world applications.