“Sharpen the axe.”
It’s a management and leadership phrase we hear often in our daily careers. This phrase has a deeper meaning—to re-evaluate our learned approach and acquire new skills. A Duke MBA offers an opportunity to learn and expand one’s knowledge in order to propel one’s career growth.
When I started this journey, I was interested in a top-ranked program with a great network in the Washington, D.C. and Maryland area. And the program should offer a health care specialization. I was often asked the questions, “Why Duke? Why a second master’s?”
And my response after completing the first calendar year in the Weekend Executive MBA program is, “Why not Duke? Why not continue to learn new skills?”
At the beginning of the program, I was both excited and nervous at the same time. I had to find the right balance between the program requirements, my life with young kids, and working on my full-time job. However, on our first orientation day, one of the professors made an impactful statement: “Anything that is transformational requires efforts.”
So we strive to achieve transformation as students and leave a legacy as professionals while the Fuqua community supports our efforts along the way. I have found the faculty at Fuqua to be very knowledgeable and skilled. Their approach toward executive MBA students is patient and accommodating, as they understand working professionals have other commitments with their full-time jobs and families.
Six months into the program, I attended Dukes’ Business Breakfast in Washington, D.C., with other working professionals who graduated from this university. They are pioneers in their own fields and offered great insight into different organizations. Some of these professionals are working in different government agencies and have a vast network to share in their regional area, which is of particular benefit to me given my background and current role.
My study team in the program is a group of highly skilled professionals from different fields of study, and each one of them brings their unique experience to class. The school offers periodic events that help build team collaboration, the emphasis being to learn the importance of team growth by challenging new ideas and not your team members.
The program staff’s process behind selecting each team’s members is highly confidential (a lot of us believe that) and the school places different backgrounds and personalities on each team. The emphasis is to learn from one another, and just as in real life, we don’t get to choose every team member or necessarily have each team member agree with exactly how to move forward. The skills needed in that situation require the ability to work with each other and establish a common vision. This critical management lesson is learned from the experience of working with your study teams.
And the Results?
So, did I sharpen my axe? I believe after completing countless assigned readings, attending team meetings, burning the midnight oil, communicating with other skilled professionals, and completing the first year, I am halfway there. The support system offered by the faculty and my team has galvanized me, and I look forward to completing the last year of this program.
As I continue to contribute to my legacy, my 5-year-old and 2-year-old understand the “D” on my cap stands for Duke University. One of the best in the world.