Duke Global Executive MBA Student Blog
Working with Faculty and Staying Engaged as an Alumnus
This blog was written by a Cross Continent MBA alumnus who graduated prior to the program’s merger with the Global Executive MBA program.
Since graduating from the Cross Continent MBA (CCMBA) program in 2010, I’ve enjoyed staying engaged with the Fuqua community in a number of ways.
My firm, ScottMadden—a management consulting firm in the energy sector—recruits both first- and second-year Daytime MBA students for positions. I take part in the interview process each fall, so I visit campus during that time. I also enjoy getting together with Fuqua alumni to watch basketball games. Pretty much every city I’ve consulted in has an alumni chapter, and because of the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship win, 2015 was an amazing ride!
However, perhaps the most unique way I stay engaged, and the one that I’m the most proud of, is a finance business case that I have been collaborating on with Professor John Graham for the last five years.
Helping Create the Business Case
I first met John during the last term of my CCMBA program. I chose his Corporate Finance class as an elective because it received such great reviews from previous students. During the class, John was discussing non-standard accounting and finance practices. At the time I was working in the Defense industry, which often uses non-standard accounting where costs equate to sales because of the cost-plus structure of most contracts. Since it was relevant to the coursework I let him know about my training in this area, which led to him approach me about an opportunity to collaborate. John and I developed some teaching exhibits that were loosely based on the training materials at my employer, and he began using them with subsequent Daytime MBA and CCMBA classes.
After graduating from Fuqua I began working at ScottMadden and conducted several due diligence projects for the Department of Energy as part of their loan guarantee program for renewable energy projects. As John and I talked through these projects we realized that they were quite interesting and were ripe with corporate finance teaching opportunities. We selected one of them that focuses on corn-to-ethanol biofuel production and put pen to paper.
Evolution of the Case Over the Years
The case has evolved quite a bit over the years, thanks to John’s coaching, input from teaching assistants, and the contributions of Fuqua students. I’ve been amazed at how powerful eight semesters’ worth of Fuqua student reviews has been in helping us to refine the case and keep it current.
The basic storyline and teaching principles remain relatively intact with where we started, but the level of sophistication in financial analysis has evolved quite a bit. In addition, we have tailored some of the supplemental energy industry materials to stay current with evolving trends in the energy sector.
Fuqua wins with its people, and the faculty is truly exceptional. Given John’s teaching and research workload, my Monday through Thursday work travel to client sites, and the lofty quality standards at Fuqua, it took a concerted effort and some weekend work sessions to develop the case. However, I think that students who show an interest in helping professors link the classroom to the workplace and are willing to spend some time building a quality product, have the opportunity to connect.
Working with faculty has been a very enjoyable and meaningful way for me to stay engaged with Fuqua. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle of work, and I have found that getting back to campus to interact with the students and John each semester is a refreshing experience.