After spending five years in military schools and seven years on active duty in the Navy, I was ready for a change and optimistic about the future. For the first time in my adult life, I was going to join the civilian workforce. I had my suit, briefcase (ok, just a backpack), company-issued laptop—the whole nine yards. I had a new career opportunity in financial services. On top of that, I was moving to a new state, and I was willing to dive headfirst into learning new skills in a new environment.

Transferrable Skills from the Navy

My previous career as a surface warfare officer—a job in which I navigated ships, led sailors, and recruited the next generation of Naval Officers—prepared me well. I could learn things quickly and was comfortable with the unknown and the ambiguous. Starting my second career in a rotational program at a large bank seemed like it would be a great fit. Multinational banks are big institutions with well-mapped hierarchical structures that can provide a secure and fulfilling career. All things that echo the Navy and appealed to me as I made my first big career jump.

However, I quickly realized that although I felt comfortable managing new jobs, people, and change, there were gaps in my knowledge that would have to be filled if I truly wanted to accelerate my career. Accounting, finance, corporate strategy… the list goes on. In my first year at the bank, I wanted to participate in bigger and more complex projects but needed additional knowledge to master the concepts I would read in briefs or hear in meetings. How on earth did these people determine which projects to undertake or the return on different institutional investments?

I wanted to be able to fully understand how the company I worked for operated and made important decisions. It did not take much research to figure out that the best place to gain the knowledge I required was business school. Because I wanted to continue garnering real-world experience, the Weekend Executive MBA program was a perfect fit. Before I knew it, I was sitting in class on day one—excited and eager to learn.

Building Business Acumen

In the Navy, I had little to no exposure to subjects like managerial accounting or financial management, but I am able to learn about them now at Fuqua. All while sitting in classes with 140+ other professionals who are filling the gaps in their own unique way and interested in accelerating their careers, just like I am.

After a long week at work, leaving to attend three days of classes on my weekend should feel daunting. There are months when I am not looking forward to the long drive to Durham on Thursday night for class Friday morning. Those feelings disappear once I’m on campus and reconnect with the people I am proud to call classmates. Team Fuqua may sound like just a catchphrase, but our cohort is truly a bonded team unlike any other. One that will have your back as you take on whatever challenge shows up next.

Jose Iglesias with two Weekend Executive MBA classmates

As an early to mid-career changer, the Weekend Executive program fits the bill in every possible way. Now I understand and can talk the language of corporate America. I can reach out to others in the extensive Duke network to research new and exciting fields. Best of all, I have truly made friends for life.

Fuqua has checked all those boxes for me in ways I could only have imagined a year ago. I could not be happier to call myself a Weekend Executive MBA student and a Blue Devil.