Going through the admissions process, I was quite confident that I was going to absolutely crush balancing the rigors of a fast-paced job, a Global Executive MBA program, all while being a husband and a new dad. Looking back to the first day of the Fuqua Global Executive MBA program (and yes, I had my wife snap a pic of me and my daughter, Vivi, like it’s my “last first day of school!”), I have to admit that behind that big smile there was some self-doubt and apprehension of, “Can I actually do all of this?”

I hope my experience with the Global Executive MBA program, and my key learnings, help provide reassurance and some insights to help you navigate through your own journey!

Nice and his infant daughter, smiling at the camera; work-life-school balance
Me with my daughter, Vivienne on the first day of my Global Executive MBA Program, August 2020

Learn More About What to Expect from the Program and Best Practices for Success

When I was accepted into the program, I had numerous conversations with my work colleague, Prathibha Rajashekhar (a Fuqua Cross-Continent MBA alum), regarding how she successfully completed the program. She has been an amazing resource for me, and her advice regarding being laser-focused with time management has proven incredibly valuable. Many of us have aspirations of careers where we have broad responsibilities, large scope, and teams to lead. Being able to manage time effectively will allow you to have success in the program while also translating to future prosperity after graduation. Fuqua has tremendous resources to help you learn more about the Global Executive MBA program, and I really appreciated connecting with students prior to the start (as well as during the first residency) to continue to find best practices to help me be successful.

Communicate With Your Support Network Prior to Beginning

This may sound self-explanatory, but this advice was given to me by one of my mentors, Michael Chaney, and it has been a game-changer. First, my wife Kelcey is a saint. Soon after receiving my mentor’s advice, we had an awesome conversation regarding our stress levels. If we ever became overwhelmed, neither one of us would hesitate to communicate this to the other person. We also took that time to think through “pre-mortems” and found solutions to help us free up more time for ourselves, such as home meal deliveries and lawn services. We also communicated key dates, such as residencies, to family and friends who have been fantastic in providing help throughout these more strenuous times in the program.

Finally, be sure to communicate to your leadership team and your business unit teams as well. I had very early discussions with my leadership team. Prathibha, Sean Jackson, and Jennifer Cowell have been incredibly supportive throughout the process. By communicating early with my business unit, the team has been able to proactively tackle projects prior to some of the program’s key time periods such as midterms and finals. 

Nick with another man, arm in arm, smiling at the camera while inside a Sam's Club store, work-life-school balance
Me with Andre Schulten, now P&G’s CFO, summer of 2019

Take Time for Yourself—RECHARGE!

What?! Take time for yourself while balancing school and a fast-paced job? Yes, make this a priority and it will absolutely pay dividends. My wife and I made our Sunday afternoons ‘sacred’ in the fall for football Sunday family time, which has now transitioned to taking our daughter, Vivi, to the indoor splash park on Saturday afternoons, (they follow strict COVID-19 protocols, for the record). Allowing personal time throughout each week provides you with that ‘reward’ for balancing a busy schedule, and re-charging you for the week ahead.

Nick and his dad on the Duke campus, standing behind a sign; work-life-school balance
Me with my dad, Ed, visiting Duke’s campus, November of 2019

By managing my time and finding that appropriate work-life-school balance, I have been able to earn a promotion at work during my Fuqua Global Executive MBA program. I went from being a senior merchant for Baby Care to now acting as senior director for Private Brands and Sourcing at Sam’s Club. In addition, I have been able to make lasting friendships in the cohort, learn phenomenal course material (and listen to distinguished speakers, such as P&G’s CEO David Taylor) while still prioritizing my family. And, most importantly, I am having a blast throughout all of these experiences!