What value does an MBA degree truly offer a student? One might argue it provides a foundation upon which to build across a host of subject areas. Or perhaps an MBA degree truly delivers its return on investment through the network it allows one to develop. I would challenge that the value of an MBA program (at least one worth its sweat equity and capital investment) is truly delivered when it provides a means by which its students can lead meaningfully.
Put simply, Fuqua asks a lot of its students. It demands we show a level of decency quotient (DQ), intelligence quotient (IQ), and emotional quotient (EQ) worthy of its name on our diploma. Its curriculum coupled with recruiting and the immediate expectation that we will all contribute to its robust roster of clubs leaves many a first-year treading water. And for our part, we as Fuquans expect that our effort be matched—that the administration responds in kind, affording us the appropriate level of autonomy and power to affect change on campus. It is this exchange that makes Fuqua unique amongst elite MBA programs. It is this dynamic that forges the strong friendships found on campus and creates the engaged alumni network that offers its support for one, two, or 10 job searches after graduation.
I write this blog post to illustrate an example of a time I was given both the opportunity and the freedom to transformationally lead, an opportunity made possible through a highly-engaged alumnus, himself renowned for his work in just this area. While struggling through recruitment season, I was tipped off by a classmate about a possible internship offered by an alumnus on the Board of Visitors who wanted deeply to give back to Fuqua. After speaking with some deans, including Russ Morgan, about the internship, I learned that Demetrio Carceller Arce, President of Damm Brewery, the largest brewery in Spain, was actively looking to launch a joint internship and mentored study experience that would be offered only to Fuqua students. This experience would be piloted in the Summer of 2023 with an initial cohort and then expanded in subsequent years. It would notably allow Fuquans to flexibly design their own internship rooted in the spirit of transformational leadership, working for one of Demetrio’s many businesses, all while living in Barcelona.
I was immediately intrigued and reached out to the Damm team who were eager to learn about my goals and ambitions at Fuqua and beyond. Ultimately, I did not settle on interning for Damm over the summer. However, what happened next is a chain of circumstances that I feel could only come to be at the leadership incubator that is Fuqua. As I felt the internship program had a lot to offer and wanted to help strengthen it for my classmates and future Fuquans, both deans encouraged me to consult for the Damm team. Through that opportunity, I brought my perspective as a Fuquan to the table to create a transformational program. With a lot of help from Damm and feedback from classmates, I collaborated in putting together a strengthened internship and spread the word to find some interested students. From a strong group of initial candidates, three were later recruited by the company, forming what I hope will be the first of many cohorts to participate in this truly unique program.
Because of the sense of community Fuqua generates, successful alumni aim to give back. It is because of these alumni that we as Fuquans are given the opportunity to live unique experiences, to lead, to develop our voice, and leave the community better than we found it. Because of empathetic and generous classmates, I was made aware of one such opportunity, and my hope is that I’ve now found a way to pay that forward.