ARINGO continues to interview admission officers at the top MBA programs. Today we bring you an interview with Shari Hubert, Associate Dean of Admissions at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business:

What is special about the Duke MBA? What differentiates it from other Top MBA programs?

  • A culture that we’ve been told can be defined as –Energizing, Grit, Humble and Happy.
  • At Fuqua, we are extremely focused on making sure business education remains relevant. We will continue to listen to industry about the skills they need and adapt accordingly– such as in data analytics. Our programs in big data focus on not just finding key insights, but also applying them in a particular business and communicating their value.
  • We will also continue to adapt curriculum to focus on the current challenges facing our students as future business leaders– We have a very popular professor, Aaron Chatterji, who teaches a cool course called “CEO Activism.” He’s one of the few academics who has studied the effect on a company when a CEO speaks out and if CEOs actually have any influence on public opinion about issues. We also have a world-renowned scholar on diversity and inclusion, Ashleigh Rosette, who just launched a new course called Gender and Leadership.
  • These are important differentiators because the role of business leadership has been shifting and these issues are top of mind for many leaders these days. Our Dean, Bill Boulding, speaks about a new kind of leader with triple threat capabilities – IQ, EQ and DQ (decency quotient).


Any recent changes in the programs or in the admission process?

I think the most relevant for those interested in the Daytime MBA, is that we have just announced a new certificate in data analytics in our Daytime MBA program, called Management Science and Technology Management (MSTeM). This certificate will require the completion of eight electives. It will be the third certificate we offer to our Daytime MBA students – along with Health Sector Management and Financial Excellence.  (We also offer 11 different concentrations to allow our students to deepen their knowledge or skills in a particular area during their MBA program, should they wish.)  In addition to the great analytic skills our students will gain by pursuing this certificate, because of the STEM designation, international students who complete this certificate and go into a job that is relevant to the field of study can get 36 months of work authorization, even prior to applying for the H1B. There are no additional costs to the certificate and it can be completed within the 2 years that you’re fulfilling your MBA.


Can you share some details about the atmosphere in the school? Between students, between students and faculty? How do students spend their free time?

  • I’ve been impressed with the student-led culture. Students are constantly organizing events and conferences, and they manage the campus visit program and serve as career fellows for their fellow classmates or COLE fellows to help support 1st year learning teams. Students are always finding ways to learn from each other.
  • One example is from a student who was in the military who founded Operation Blue Devil which gives students a firsthand perspective about what it’s like to serve. Another example is Fuqua Talks– initiatives that help develop a more inclusive culture. With Fuqua Talks anyone can get up and talk about what they feel is important.
  • Our famous Fuqua Fridays (where the entire Fuqua student, faculty and staff come together at the end of each week to celebrate, connect and commune with each other) was started by students back in 1984 and has persisted.  I think the ability for our students to contribute in ways that leave a lasting legacy is one of their best traits.
  • Please refer to this great blog written by one of our students that provides a day in the life.

Can you share some details about the area the school is located in?

  • It also has a strong entrepreneurial, biotech/technology presence due to the Research triangle corridor (150+ Fortune 100 multinationals), and the multiple accelerators and start-ups who have opened up in downtown Durham.  Durham is ranked one of the 7 hottest start-up hubs outside of Silicon Valley by Inc. Magazine; #2 among the best places for business and careers by Forbes Magazine; a Top Ten Tech Town by Wired magazine; and a Top City for people under 35 by CNBC.
  • The food is amazing, there is great art, theater, a music scene, and an eclectic community. The full-time students really bond on the weekends because they stay and don’t scatter like they do at business schools in larger cities. It really creates an opportunity for students to stay in Durham and build authentic relationships with each other
  • Sometimes I think people assume that most of our graduates stay in the Southeast in terms of their careers. In fact, the West coast was the number one destination for 2018 grads (30%), and the Northeast/Mid Atlantic was runner up.
  • There were about 10% of the class that landed international jobs, so it demonstrates our national and even international reach in terms of employer relationships. But, I think it also demonstrates that for any of our international students who may need work authorization, that the majority of them are successful in finding great jobs here in the US, should they wish to stay after graduation.
  • Our students get to engage with great local companies through experiential learning but are able to organize themselves and travel to key areas outside the Southeast to create additional exposure.
  • And we have employers who travel from all over the country to recruit our students (over 200). There is no shortage of career opportunities regardless of the destination you might be interested in post-MBA.
  • We are also very convenient to DC (60 mins), NY (90 mins), Boston/Chicago (less than 2 hours), non-stop flights to San Francisco and London/Paris.
  • Bottom line: our Durham location provides you with access to great and broad-reaching careers and geographies post- graduation.


Can you share some details regarding job opportunities and summer internships for students in your school? 

  • Our Career Management Center is a team of 30 professionals with industry and functional expertise who collaborate with students as well as potential employers. The CMC works with you to oversee all aspects of your job search. Your career management team includes:
    1. Career coaches with industry specialties, a programming team that helps you master complex career search techniques, and other specialists who work across department lines—helping you identify synergies and career options you never considered.
    2. There are 7 Sector Directors who cover every industry our students are interested in going into. They work with students (for internships and full-time opportunities) and employers and make connections that increase our students ability to access great job opportunities.
    3. There are 70+ Career Fellows, who are 2nd year students who mentor and coach 1st years to support them through their career journey as well.
    4. We also have a student and alumni services team that provides individual coaching, workshops and other programming for both students and alumni (you get lifelong career resources and support as an alum of Fuqua, by the way). In our career curriculum, we train students to pursue career opportunities both on campus and through their custom search so students’ diverse interests can be pursued, and so that they have the tools and skills to be successful in the job search process throughout the longevity of their career.
    5. Finally, there’s recruiting and operations support services to assist with the on-campus recruiting activities and interviews. We have over 200 companies who come to campus to recruit our students.
  • Our student clubs partner with our Career Management Center to host “Week-in-City” treks across the country and even the globe, to visit with employers and learn directly about their culture, opportunities and what they seek in Fuqua students. These student-led treks are very popular.
  • The combination of a general management curriculum plus the flexibility to customize with a variety of concentrations provides students both breadth and depth from an academic preparation perspective and that serves as a springboard for many different types of post-MBA careers.
  • Consulting and healthcare (together) has typically comprised about 40 – 45% of a graduating class, so students are going into diverse industries and functions. Finance, general management, and consumer products have also been historically strong, and tech has emerged as now the second largest sector (consulting is #1). Consulting remained the most popular industry in the 2018 graduating class, and out of those who pursued a search in consulting, 56% are at McKinsey, Bain, BCG or Deloitte.  So our students are highly sought after by the best consulting firms both in the US and abroad.
  • 28% of our students went into the Tech Sector with Amazon, Google, Microsoft among the top employers, also 30% of our students end up out on the West Coast and another 30% or so end up in the combined Mid-Atlantic/Northeast corridor. There were about 10% of the class that landed international jobs, so it demonstrates our national and even international reach in terms of employer relationships. But, I think it also demonstrates that for any of our international students who may need work authorization, that the majority of them are successful in finding great jobs here in the US, should they wish to stay after graduation. Bottom line: our Durham location provides you with access to great and broad-reaching careers and geographies post- graduation.
  • Here is a link to our most recent 2017-2018 MBA Employer Report. Our students continue to do very well in the job market with 94% having accepted offers 3 months out,  Median salary $125,000, median bonus $30,000 for a total compensation of $155,000.


What kind of candidates is the school looking for? Who will especially enjoy this school? who will be a good fit to the school?

Our students very much contribute and are accountable for their respective transformations from day 1.

We look for applicants who really understand our culture, can see themselves thriving here and demonstrate that they have taken the genuine time to get to know us throughout the application process, and therefore really want to be part of our unique community.

We intentionally seek to bring in a diverse student population – truly representative across experiences, backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, nationalities and various demographics – with the intention of broadening our collective perspective and facilitating more innovative thought and discussion. We look for what students have contributed and will contribute to those they interact with or impact in some way.


Is there anything you’d like our candidates to know regarding the admissions process?

Our responsibility is to create a class that is engaged. We want to be transparent to ensure each candidate knows what we are looking for because we are trying to identify applicants who are going to align with our institutional values.

We look at the application as a mosaic. Your professional work experience, letters of support, leadership and community involvement—we are looking at all off these together and none is greater than the other. It is truly holistic.

  • Try to avoid the trite and superficial in completing your essays, and I would also focus less on your professional accomplishments in the Random 25 essay, as we can read those through your resume or another part of the application form.
  • Some people have a difficult time getting to 25 we know, but we recommend including context around how does that fact drive your ability to be a better, different, or a more unique Fuqua MBA.  We want the insights behind the random facts, but also how they shape who you are today.
  • I encourage applicants to talk to their friends and family to get ideas of what might be appropriate or interesting to share, as these individuals tend to really know you – the good, bad and ugly.
  • We are genuinely interested in going beyond just test scores or any single data point – and as such we take our essays and the interviews very seriously. We are looking for people who share our belief that business can change the world for the better and possess the humility and leadership skills to bring out the best in others. That match all starts with sincerity and authenticity.
  • Show you’ve done research,
  • Make sure someone else reviews to make sure you’re answering the question.
  • Don’t be afraid to be somewhat vulnerable in your essays as those are always most interesting.
  • Treat everyone in the process with respect; use good judgement and be self-aware of when you are coming on too strong or over communicating.