Duke Fuqua Rattles MBA World with Exciting New Curriculum [Episode 335]
Interview with Shari Hubert, Associate Dean of Admissions at Duke Fuqua [Show Summary]
Shari Hubert, Associate Dean of Admissions at Duke Fuqua shares great information about major curriculum and programmatic changes the school is going through and why.
Learn about Duke Fuqua's unique location, curriculum and program offerings [Show Notes]
It gives me great pleasure to welcome back to AST Shari Hubert, Associate Dean of Admissions at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Shari earned her BA at Dartmouth and her MBA at Harvard. She worked at several elite companies, and in 2009 became Director of Recruitment for the Peace Corps. In 2012 she returned to the MBA world when she became the Associate Dean of MBA Admissions for Georgetown McDonough. She joined Duke Fuqua as Associate Dean of Admissions in October 2017.
Fuqua has announced a curriculum redesign with three main changes. What are they and how will they affect the class entering in 2020? [1:48]
We are always trying to look for ways to remain relevant, and with the landscape we find ourselves in it is a challenging environment for business right now. There are so many polarizing issues. After talking about the needs of our students, we settled on their need for a greater emphasis on how to develop as a leader who can rally others to move toward a common purpose. The idea of teamwork has always been a part of our culture, and more recently embodied by Team Fuqua, as has the focus on innovation, but we wanted to be very intentional about equipping students with the right skillsets to tackle this new business environment. The curriculum focuses around three themes that are tackled right at the beginning of the first year and then again at the end of first year. The themes are leadership and common purpose, entrepreneurship as a mindset, and technology in business. Right after orientation there is a three-week period with three courses – one is leadership ethics in organizations, the second is entrepreneurship for a lifetime, and the third is focused on technology and ethics. We believe an entrepreneurial mindset is important, regardless of whether or not a student decides to own their own business someday. An owner mentality is very beneficial for resilience and creativity. Business is very complex with the technology transformation over the last few decades. There is no shortage of data, but what is lacking is leadership around making informed decisions with that data. So for us the focus is on building leaders who will be ethical about how to use it.
At the end of the first year there is kind of a capstone course around mobilizing teams for common purpose and the need to have courageous conversations. We do this at the end of the first year as students have built relationships by then and are able to more boldly participate. There is such polarization in the workforce, which is a reflection of society – one can’t seem to disagree agreeably. We look for students who can understand and embrace diversity and difference and this new curriculum equips students with the ability to navigate that and ultimately have a positive impact on society.
How will Fuqua's Accelerated MBA program work and who is it for? [13:17]
The program is a one-year MBA for those with a Masters in Management (MMS) from Fuqua and/or MMS from another institution. These are individuals who have studied the core competencies around business and are looking for the additional leadership credentialing but in a way that is accelerated. Some want to continue down the business path, and it is beneficial to alumni of our MMS who have taken much of our core, have work experience, and want to take their career to the next level. It also shows our commitment to lifelong learning to our alums - we already offer free exec ed courses to alumni. The MMS degree is much more widespread in Europe and we are looking at that and others who might want to layer on with a U.S. MBA degree. It’s a great option in an accelerated format, and is unique from other accelerated MBAs as you must have the MMS already. Our students start the same time as our daytime students, with the main difference being our accelerated students take electives with second years whereas the first years are taking the core. We anticipate them going back into their previous jobs or similar job functions, as they are not making a full-scale change in career since there is no internship opportunity.
Will applicants who have a BBA be eligible for it? [15:54]
BBAs do not qualify for it because the accelerated program essentially is part of the daytime MBA program. It is for those who have already taken the masters-level core courses, which our MMS students have, and can then go deeper in the electives.
Duke is extending the Management Science and Technology Management (MSTeM) track to its MMS program. Can you describe this track? Is it a STEM program for visa purposes? [19:16]
This track essentially offers the MMS core plus courses that are data analytic in nature. Students in the track take three electives – one is R programming, another is a technology in business course, and the third is a business analytics course. They take the courses in summer or every Wednesday when we don’t typically have classes. There is no additional application for the track, but there is additional cost. At the end the graduate qualifies for OPT if they go into a career that is STEM qualifying, so provides an opportunity to stay in the US. Folks doing the MMS at Duke Kunshan can take the courses, but don’t get the OPT.
What do you wish more people knew about Fuqua? [24:23]
Unless you are able to come here and visit us, people have misconceptions about our existence here in Durham. Durham is a wonderful place – a community that is vibrant and growing, a mid-size city, a great climate, and with no compromise on access. 60% of our daytime graduates last year ended up on the west coast or mid-Atlantic/Northeast. Fuqua is a wonderful supportive community, and Durham is not as well understood and known. Fuqua is the only top 10 school in a top 10 city. There are wonderful restaurants, culture, and 150 multinational Fortune 100 companies in our backyard, which provides great opportunities for speakers, internships, practicums, etc., to leverage what students are learning in the classroom. There is not a great appreciation for that unless you come here.
One of the more distinctive features at Fuqua are its two concentrations related to energy management: Energy and Environment, and Energy Finance. Can you touch on those? [26:50]
Students want to combine the tools of business and apply them to big challenges, and energy and sustainability top the list. These concentrations allow students to get specialized expertise to be more equipped and competitive in the marketplace to navigate the unique issues. Courses are very interdisciplinary and experiential, and can be taken at Fuqua, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Sanford School of Public Policy. There are lots of different ways to satisfy the concentration, including as a consultant to an energy company. In terms of careers for those with the skill set, Tesla and Sunpower are recruiters, and also there are opportunities in sustainability job functions at places like Nike, Amazon, and Facebook. We have a dedicated sector director in the career services office to help in this space.
We have also partnered with a group of 17 MBA schools with students participating in a summit called Climate Cap focused on climate, business, and capital. How do you prepare students to mitigate risk and take advantage of opportunities in the area of climate change? The idea is to be thinking about social and environmental responsibility.
We also have a dual degree with Nicholas School – it’s a three-year degree with an MBA and masters in environmental management. Students do their first year at Nicholas, second at Fuqua, and blend the third year.
What is the biggest challenge applicants face in presenting a compelling case for acceptance at Duke Fuqua? [31:31]
For some, depending on their background, they may have had limited exposure to diversity and inclusion, or how to demonstrate commitment to diversity and inclusion. We encourage applicants to explain how they have worked on diversity or can demonstrate the potential or desire to wanting to be open to inclusion and diversity.
What do you see coming down the pike for the MBA program at Fuqua? MBA education in general? [37:27]
We will always be trying to remain relevant and there may be differences in how we deliver content. We have a lot to get prepared for with this incoming class - the accelerated MBA has put a lot on our plate! More generally, I would expect to see more flexible and shorter duration programs as people look a lot harder at the investment, time away from the work force and the trade off. Depending on how you define it, “on the cusp of recession,” that will define it as well.
What would you have liked me to ask you? [41:13]
There is a lot of great news on the gender front with increases in women in our programs. At Fuqua we have about 48% women overall across programs. We are so excited to see that, and we will continue to support women in applying and also while here. I am really encouraged about what I see inside the community. We are a big supporter of the Forte Foundation and have seen a big increase in the type of scholarships given. Across the programs we have over 230 Forte Fellows at Fuqua, and we want to ensure women feel like they belong here and have the opportunity and access they need to succeed.
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