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May 24, 2009

Interview with Duke Class of 2010 MBA Student

My former client, Mr. Hazuki Suzuki, was kind enough to answer my questions about his experience at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. Prior to attending Duke, Hazuki worked for software companies as an IT consultant for seven years. Most recently, he was a project leader of global system implementation projects for major pharmaceutical and medical companies. He is currently focusing on healthcare management.
Adam: What has your first year been like?
Hazuki: My first year experience forced me to expand my perspective through interactions with diverse students, and gave me opportunities to think about my career. Although sometimes I felt stressful, I was getting used to it and could become more active to facilitate team meetings and join extracurricular events.
Adam: What was the Global institute like?
Hazuki: The Global Institute (GI) was an intensive, three-week summer term and GI had two core courses, Global Institutions and Environments (GIE) and Leadership, Ethics and Organizations (LEO). I learned global institutions such as laws, conventions, and organizations in GIE, and managerial effectiveness in LEO.
Adam: As you know, Fuqua emphasizes collaborative leadership. What exactly does that mean? How is it reflected in your curriculum?
Hazuki: I think collaborative leadership means that everyone is a leader and a member simultaneously. A leader is a person who takes initiative and makes a difference. If every one of the team members takes an initiative and makes a difference, that’s collaborative leadership. Personally, I feel that a team led by collaborative leadership is similar to a jazz band where there’s no conductor (like orchestra) and each player exchanges inspirations. I think that the collaborative leadership is beneficial to utilize the diversity of team members and win successes under a complicated and rapidly-changing global economy.
In our curriculum, there are a lot of opportunities to learn and experience collaborative leadership. For example, we learned and discussed the concepts of collaborative leadership in LEO classes. Every student is assigned to an ILE (Integrated Leadership Experience) team, which has six members of diverse cultures and professional backgrounds. In all courses at Fuqua, the professor gives team assignments. Students work with the team members to analyze a case, conduct a research, and make a write-up or a presentation whichever is required. In this process, each student is required to demonstrate collaborative leadership.
Additionally, one second year student is assigned to every ILE team as a mentor, and holds meetings periodically to exchange feedbacks of daily team works for each team member. Through feedback sessions, I learned how my team members saw my contributions to team, strengths and weaknesses of my leadership.
Adam: Do you actually have any time for clubs? If so, which ones are you active in?
Hazuki: It depends on how you prioritize your commitment. Clubs are one of the most useful resources for job search and, thus, most students actively participate in club activities. Of course some clubs are purely for enjoying hobbies. Fuqua also provides many leadership positions such as Admission Fellow, Alumni Fellow, and Leadership Fellow. These are also great opportunities to build your leadership experience.
In my case, however, I’m not in charge of any cabinet roles of clubs. During my first year, I joined some conference events as an audience member, and performed a mandolin (a string instrument) solo music at Fuqua Idol event hosted by Art & Music Club. This is also possible at Fuqua because we have a substantial leeway about how we spend our time.
Adam: Are there any common characteristics you find amongst your classmates?
Hazuki: Generally speaking, my classmates are friendly and supportive. They are easy to talk and get along with. I think that the slogan of “Team Fuqua” works to collect applicants who are comfortable to work as a team, and reminds current students to be supportive if anybody initiates something new or/and interesting.
Adam: Do you have any specific advice for those considering application to Fuqua?
Hazuki: I recommend applicants to consider how they leverage resources at Duke to achieve their career goals. Some may focus on general management, or major in Health Sector Management. And recently, more students seem to be interested in energy & environment. If you want, Duke enables you to take interdisciplinary approaches by accessing resources in other schools. Actually, some students take classes at Nicholas School of the Environment and Duke University School of Law. It’s worth to plan your curriculum and activities at Fuqua during your school research so that you can include specific plans in your essay.
Additionally, it’s important to consider whether your current or ideal leadership style fits Fuqua’s concepts, such as collaborative leadership and Team Fuqua. I think each business school has unique leadership concept and approach to provide opportunities to learn it. When you review your leadership experiences and career goal, if you find something similar to the school’s thoughts or which you want to add to you, it’s worth to show them in your essay and tell them during an interview.
Adam: As you know, Fuqua really emphasizes making contributions and diversity in its application essays, so do you have specific advice for applicants? In other words, how do think applicants should answer questions like “How will your background, values, and non-work activities enhance the experience of other Duke MBA students and add value to Fuqua's diverse culture?”
Hazuki: After I started my life at Fuqua, I actually noticed my uniqueness among classmates. I recommend applicants to list their attributes of professional, cultural and personal backgrounds. It should be a good strategy to write one specific and memorable story which represents your unique characteristics, and show how you apply your abilities and experiences to Fuqua’s academic, extra-curricular and social communities and activities.
Fuqua has a lot of opportunities to exercise your uniqueness. For example, you can add new aspects by telling your opinions and experiences during classes and team meetings. Your professional skills for project management, quantitative/qualitative analysis or presentation should be assets for your academic team. If you have talents in sports or art, you may want to organize such events. If you have an academic or professional expertise and take a high grade in a specific class, you can be in charge of a tutor for the class to teach students as requested. Holding cultural presentations and events are also welcomed.

Adam: What impact has the financial crisis had on life at Fuqua?
Hazuki: Because of the stagnant economy, students encounter difficulties to find summer internship and full-time job offers. But we still have opportunities to find interesting positions. Actually, some Japanese second year students won full-time offers from US companies.
Adam: What are your favorite MBA related blogs (English or Japanese sites)?
Hazuki: We current students have a blog and write our lives at Fuqua.
Adam: Anything else you would like to tell us?
Hazuki: It must be a stressful experience to prepare applications for MBA programs. But I think that even the application process is an opportunity to think back on you and consider your future career. So I hope that you stay positive and win admissions.
For Japanese applicants, if you have any questions about Fuqua, please feel free to get in touch with us through the following website: http://mbaa.fuqua.duke.edu/aabc/Japanese/index.html
Good Luck!
I want to thank Hazuki for taking the time to answer my questions. You can read my interview with a Class of 2009 student here.
Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. If you are looking for a highly experienced admissions consultant who is passionate about helping his clients succeed, please feel free to contact me at adammarkus@gmail.com to arrange an initial consultation. To learn more about my services, see here. Initial consultations are conducted by Skype or telephone. For clients in Tokyo, a free face-to-face consultation is possible after an initial Skype or telephone consultation. I only work with a limited number of clients per year and believe that an initial consultation is the best way to determine whether there is a good fit. Whether you use my service or another, I suggest making certain that the fit feels right to you.
-Adam Markus
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