Embarking on an international residency as part of a Global Executive MBA program is a journey that requires careful balancing of academic pursuits with professional and personal responsibilities. My experiences with residencies in Bangkok and Santiago, amidst a demanding career in private wealth management and the need for comprehensive care for my dog, illustrate the complexities and rewards of managing such a multifaceted life.

Donniecia Cummings' dog

Bangkok: Navigating the First Challenge

The anticipation of my first residency in Bangkok brought with it a whirlwind of preparations. A crucial aspect of these preparations was ensuring that my dog, who is much more than a pet but a part of the family, would be in a loving environment while I was away. The decision to take her to Ohio to stay with my parents, affectionately known as their “grand-dogger,” was made with her best interest in mind. This arrangement was especially important to me, as it meant she would receive the care and affection she deserves in a family setting, rather than spending more than two weeks in a kennel.

The sights in Bangkok, Thailand

Professionally, the timing of this residency presented its own set of challenges. In private wealth management, maintaining close relationships with clients is paramount, and stepping away, even for a short period, required extensive planning and communication. The task was to ensure continuity in client service without any hitches, necessitated thorough project handovers and establishing a reliable schedule for check-ins to manage any issues that might arise in my absence.

Santiago: A Test of Preparedness

The preparation for my second residency in Santiago was influenced significantly by the lessons learned from my initial experience. However, this time, the residency was scheduled in January, aligning with the first significant tax deadline of the year for our team. This timing introduced a heightened level of complexity to my professional preparations, demanding even more rigorous planning and coordination to ensure that client needs were met and that my team was well-equipped to handle the workload during my absence.

Donniecia Cummings and two of her classmates in the Global Executive MBA program standing in front of sign that reads, "STGO" while on a residency.

Despite the smoother process of arranging care for my dog, thanks to the established routine with my parents, the January residency posed unique challenges. A snowstorm in Appalachia added an unexpected layer of difficulty to my travel plans, serving as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of balancing global education with other significant responsibilities.

Reflections on Growth and Resilience

Through the lens of these two residencies, my journey encapsulates the essence of growth, adaptability, and the importance of a solid support system. The experience of preparing for and participating in these residencies while managing a career and ensuring the well-being of my fur baby, Ebony, has been a testament to the value of resilience and meticulous planning.

The challenges, particularly the professional rigors of navigating a critical tax deadline during my Santiago residency, underscored the importance of proactive communication and teamwork. They also highlighted the significance of having a supportive family willing to step in and provide a loving home for my dog, easing one aspect of the myriad concerns that come with such endeavors.

Donniecia Cummings, a student in the Global Executive MBA program, speaks on a panel with other Duke Fuqua students

In reflection, these international residencies have enriched my educational and professional journey, offering unparalleled insights into managing complex responsibilities across different domains of my life. They have taught me the power of preparation, the necessity of adaptability, and the strength found in the support of loved ones and colleagues alike. Despite the obstacles encountered, including weather-related travel disruptions and the pressures of a demanding career, the experiences have been profoundly rewarding, affirming my commitment to pursuing excellence in all facets of my life.