Alums who go off and become successful always reflect well on their alma matar. And Duke can lay claim to providing the MBA education for one of the most famous executives in the world: Apple CEO Tim Cook, late founder Steve Jobs’ handpicked successor. It’s hard to imagine any school having a better living advertisement for itself. In recent years, Fuqua has had great success at matching its MBA graduates with world-class companies seeking the best and brightest. The breadth and diversity of the recruiters coming to Fuqua is a testament to the quality of its students and what the school makes of them.

The Fuqua MBA degree promises an education with a 360-degree perspective that encompasses the history of mistakes and shortcuts in business while simultaneously looking to the future with a palpable optimism. Fuqua’s goal is to create the business leaders of tomorrow, leaders who demonstrate competence, character, and purpose – leaders of consequence who are comparable to famous Fuqua alumni.


Financial times
The Economist
US News ranking




Duke University’s  Fuqua School of Business is a community focused MBA program seeking candidates who can navigate an interconnected world. Looking for both thinkers and doers, the Admissions committee wants to see people who are excited to join Team Fuqua.

The Fuqua culture is more about holistic personal qualities than quant stats, and reading stories from Fuqua student bloggers shows that the warmth of the community is real.

In this essay set you are asked for 25 new facts, to outline your career goals and explain why Fuqua to round out your resume, academic profile and recommendations.

As always, it is important to demonstrate that you know Duke Fuqua well and are a strong fit with the program. Starting your research and personal networking now will put you in a solid position to prepare the most specific and effective essays.

Short Essays – 
Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each question, respond in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).
1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
2. What are your long-term goals?
3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?

This career goals essay asks for your plan in three parts. First, you should describe what you plan to do immediately after your MBA. Then you’ll explain the long-term vision for your career. Finally, Duke admits that many career paths are forged through circumstance, and asks you for your Plan B.

Think big picture and focus on the overall story trajectory. What would be the most logical (and interesting) progression from your current skill set and MBA education? How will your next step flow from the combination of those experiences? In this post-MBA employment environment it will help you to have a realistic goal for your future career. If you are a career switcher it will be helpful to highlight transferable skills.

As you consider your alternative path for this question, ideally it’s not a massive departure, but simply shows the areas you could see yourself exploring if your primary plan doesn’t materialize.

For example, perhaps you are focused on becoming a marketing executive within the consumer packaged goods industry, such as General Mills. If you don’t find the suitable position after Duke, maybe you would consider marketing for a retailer, such as Target, as your alternate career path because it allows you to develop a marketing career as well.

Or, you may have two disparate interests and want to consider both of them. Perhaps your Plan A is to join a strategy consulting firm after graduation, but if you don’t receive a spot among your top choices you would think about co-founding a start up as another possible path. Think about your range of interests and go from there.

Because you have limited space, you’ll have to boil your plans down in a clear statement of what you plan to do, but ideally any plans are supported by the information provided in your resume, recommendations, and other essays.

Essay 1 –

Instructions: Present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

This essay is entirely open ended and you can cover topics spanning your personal background, work experiences, values and hobbies. If you have a particularly interesting story in any of those areas, this is the place to tell that story.

Fuqua has asked this question for a few years, and their admissions bloggers have posted some of their own responses to the question, which is invaluable research for you to read before you start your version.

Coming up with 25 random things to list in this essay may seem daunting at first. To jumpstart your creative process you may want to brainstorm with friends and family about what is most interesting and memorable about you. Or keep a notebook with you to record thoughts as you go about work and personal activities.

Once you have 25 random things, how do you structure your list? There’s a few possible ways to proceed: chronologically, chunking the list into themes, or even alphabetically.

You may want to organize the list so that it builds from shorter to longer items, or you may want to intersperse some of the 25 random things that require a paragraph explanation between sets of things that are easy to understand in one sentence. Structuring the list to make it easy to read and follow will be appreciated, but resist the urge to package the list too perfectly. Content is always the most important factor and remember that the primary purpose of this essay/list is to show Duke your multi-faceted life and interests.

Essay 2 –
Instructions: Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.
Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. 
Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences. Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom?

The best essays will be both specific and personal, while demonstrating you have done your homework on Fuqua. While everyone benefits from a diverse alumni network, what specifically do you want to give and receive from your classmates?
If you describe clubs and classes you are attracted to, also offer specific examples from your past experiences to show your consistent personal or professional passions.

Your fit with the program is crucial, and it will be ideal to show the personal qualities that Duke prizes. The Duke MBA program is especially interested in your role within the community, and will place significant weight on this factor. If you research thoroughly and are specific, you should be able to clearly demonstrate why you are going to be strong contributor to Team Fuqua.
This essay can also be a place to talk about how the Duke MBA fits into your career goals. What do you know now that will be enhanced through your MBA education? And what crucial aspects of the skill set required for your future career will be augmented by attending Duke?

However, the main focus should be your community involvement and how you plan to improve the experience of others at Duke both in and outside the classroom.

Essay 3 – 
If you feel there are circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance).
• Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
• The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your circumstances only.
• Limit your response to one page.

The Admissions committee at Fuqua asks that you use this space only to explain extenuating circumstances, not just to add new information to your application profile. If you have a low GPA, lack a recommendation from your current supervisor or have gaps in work history this is the correct place to address those issues. If you do not have any of those areas to explain, just skip the question and focus on the previous three essays.

When approaching any concerns about your background in the optional essay it’s important to show that your recent performance, whether academic or professional, has demonstrated recovery from the issues of the past.

Your goal is to remove questions from your application and to address in a factual manner any information the admissions committee needs to know to fairly evaluate your application. The essay should convey, in a positive manner, that you know there could be questions about your background but you have thoroughly improved in any areas necessary and are now ready to contribute to the program at Duke Fuqua.


Essay 1 : Please discuss your career path, your short and long-term goals.

I have envisioned my goal to be a business leader and drive people towards a business objective. I wish to pursue this goal by becoming a partner with a firm in consulting domain.

After graduating as a Mechanical engineer from IIT Delhi, I started my professional life with Eicher, one of Indias leading automobile firms, where I lead short term projects in Manufacturing, Product Design, Marketing and Vendor Development. I learnt dynamics and interrelations between different functions through this vivid experience.

My subsequent experience at Asian Paints Limited, among top 10 decorative coatings companies in the world, involved working at grass root level in a green-field project. As Production and Planning executive for Asian Paintsrsquo; dream project, I was responsible for material and manpower planning, coordination with corporate supply chain function and leading a team of 72 people to achieve the design production capacity of the project. Steering the team through challenging situations during this project strengthened my people management and leadership skills. As these experiences were focused in manufacturing domain, they made me realize the need to know about business issues in other areas which I believe would be instrumental in developing a career in consulting.

In my current profile as Transformation manager at IBM BTO, my responsibilities include providing support for business transition, synthesizing solutions for clients and driving projects with global teams. Through this experience, I have developed an ability to work with cross functional teams, resolve problems in different areas and deal with customer requirements. I have worked on a myriad of problems with different client processes at IBM. While resolving these issues and linking the results with organizational objectives, I felt the need to learn more about business strategy in order to have a better alignment of business goals to specific problems.

I believe that at this stage, business education would complement my current work experience. An MBA will provide me additional skills, such as knowledge in business strategy and understanding of issues in different business domains, required to pursue my career goals in consulting.

After MBA I want to join a business consulting firm as a strategy consultant. This would act as a platform for getting involved in business problems of a diverse set of companies. In this profile, I would be able to apply learning from my work experience and business education to resolve challenging issues. By growing further in this role, I look forward to become a Consulting partner in future and take on higher responsibilities.

Essay 2 :Why are you interested in The Duke MBA program and how will it help you achieve your goals? If you are interested in the Health Sector Management concentration or a joint degree program, please address in this essay.

Balanced Excellence and team culturer, the primary hallmarks of Duke MBA provide the inspiration and reason for being a part of the energetic community at Duke. I believe that management education at Fuqua will complement my current skills and work experience and provide me additional skills required to pursue my career goals in consulting domain.

At Fuqua, I will be able to develop thorough knowledge of business principles through a customizable curriculum with electives in strategy and consulting. In addition, by providing opportunities to work in real life situations, Duke MBA would provide me an interactive real-time environment. This is the type of environment in which I learn and work best. Working on real world problems in various courses such as Small Business Consulting course and Strategic Planning Practicum will complement my learning experience and prepare me for my future role.

With an emphasis on team work and leadership at Duke, I will be able to work with teams on activities like Duke Start-Up Challenge and on practical assignments. This would hone up my people management and leadership skills and equip me to make an influential contribution as a business leader in long run. I also look forward to participate in student organizations such as Consulting Club which would enable me to explore opportunities in consulting domain.

At Duke, I will be able to develop perspective on different business areas by interacting with a community which has diverse business experience. Developing relations with this community would hold prime importance for me. A focus on nurturing the spirit of collaboration as an integral part of Duke Culture would help me build networking skills and is decisive in my choice of Duke

MBA. I believe that making an impact through activities beyond academics is an imperative part of business education. Fuqua experience, with an entire gamut of extracurricular activities, would provide me this opportunity through one of the most active student bodies of any business school.

I believe that this program would help me not only in career goals but also in developing myself as a good human being. I think that I would be able to make a meaningful contribution to the Duke community with my background, education, works experience and ethics.

Essay 3 : How has your personal history and family background influenced your intellectual and personal development? What unique personal qualities or life experiences might distinguish you from other applicants? How will your background, values and nonwork related activities enhance the experience of other Duke MBA students and add to the diverse culture we strive for at Fuqua? Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally.

Having been born and brought up in a middle class joint family, I have gained some of my most obvious personality traits from family values and culture. One trait that my family inspired me to inculcate is to make best use of given situation and resources. Reaching my current position, given resource constraints, while getting the best possible of everything would have been difficult without this attitude. This has significantly influenced my way of working and has enabled me to carry an optimistic attitude even in difficult situations. By carrying forward this virtue in Team Fuqua, I will encourage other members of the community to work with this attitude and make things better than they otherwise would be.

Participation in different activities and exploring new areas has always been my passion. During my school life, I developed this passion by taking part in extra curricular activities including debating, dramatics, painting and poetry. Exposure provided by these activities inspired me and I furthered this passion, as president of the school student body, by starting a system of activity clubs in my school. Having discovered art and poetry as an interesting medium of expression, I became an active participant of ldquo;Fine Artsrdquo; and ldquo;Hindi Council ldquo;clubs at IIT Delhi. Interaction with a diverse community through these activities motivated me to learn more about people and human behavior. Taking this thought forward I found a new passion and began learning Graphology, a tool for assessing personality traits through handwriting analysis. Graphology has enhanced my understanding of people and enabled me to develop better relations. Through participation in Arts club at Fuqua, I intend to share my interests. I also wish to develop them further and extend to others by creating a Graphology club.

During my graduation at IIT, I was selected for International Student Exchange program with University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Fall 2001. Spending four months with a diverse community and in a different education system was a unique learning experience. I quickly adjusted in this new education system where my hard work earned me a place in Deanrsquo;s List for Fall 2001 semester, on basis of outstanding academic performance. My stay in an international dormitory and interaction with people from across the globe added a new dimension to my thinking and persona. Courses at UMass involved working in teams with members from different countries and this enhanced my abilities as a team player. In addition, through my participation in various extracurricular activities and my involvement in a course on ldquo;Inter-Cultural Livingrdquo; I mingled with different people and cultures. An entire gamut of events on the campus made me feel like being a part of a global community. I look forward to enhance these experiences through participation in International club and GATE course at Fuqua.

I feel that making contributing to community development is close to my heart and keeps me humane. When I was in XI standard, I got an opportunity to teach underprivileged children as part of a small campaign organized in my school. I got a feeling of personal satisfaction after teaching in this two day campaign. This motivated me to contribute my bit for benefit of society by devoting some time for social cause. Carrying forward on this idea at IIT Delhi, I was involved in teaching children at the ldquo;Central Schoolrdquo; located in the campus. At IIT, I also took part in a campaign for creating education awareness in villages. Having a desire to contribute further, I thought of utilizing my hobby of poetry composition for social cause. I wrote some poems for a Non Government Organization (NGO) magazine ndash; ldquo;Yuva Samvadrdquo; to convey a message on issues such as agricultural development. My association with this organization inspired me to do something more and pursuing this desire I donated my first salary amount, after graduation, to an orphanage run by an NGO. I felt that giving returns from my first efforts in professional life was one of the ways to give something back to society. I have tried to continue such activities in professional life also by being a part of the ldquo;Hands of Hoperdquo; campaign at IBM in which I was involved in teaching underprivileged children on weekends.

I believe that by sharing these values and experiences with others I would be able to add value to
the team Fuqua, not only during the education experience but also for the rest of my life.

Essay 4 : To be a good team player, one needs to be an effective individual leader and viceversa. Describe an example of where you were challenged to become a leader in a team-oriented context. What was the challenge you faced, how did you address it, and what did you take away from the experience for your future development as a leader?

Attrition was becoming a big problem for the management at IBM BTO, Bangalore. With 20 % of new recruits leaving within three months of joining, attrition was becoming a major pain area and was impacting business and overhead costs. At this stage an initiative for reducing attrition was started and the project team included members from Training, Recruitment, Human Resources and Transformation teams. As a Transformation manager and Black-Belt with IBM, I represented transformation team in this project. Having a target of achieving fifty per cent reduction in attrition for a headcount of 3000 people at Bangalore Business Unit, we knew the ride would not be smooth.

The assignment was interesting but preliminary discussions and analysis for attrition reduction did not seem to materialize the thoughts. I insisted that data orientation be the basis for actions in the project. However, due to constraints in data availability the project progressed with an approach in which logically obvious factors like ldquo;expectation setting for new hiresrdquo; were assumed as causes. The team soon found itself in troubled waters when the Business Unit head expressed concern regarding the methodology and lack of drive. At this stage, I realized that what was missing in the project was a structured approach and analytical rigor. I thought I would be able to induce these missing elements and make the project a success and hence decided to lead this challenging initiative.

Having a background in six-sigma and transformation at IBM, I convinced the team members to follow six-sigma methodology for attrition reduction. Along with the team members, I finalized a structured approach for the project. This approach included identification of owners for different activities, data analysis, detailed process study and implementation of recommendations. Subsequently critical factors impacting attrition were identified and solutions for these factors were devised. This stage of the project involved the challenge of convincing the stakeholders and leadership team for implementation of recommendations. The difficulty of handing this challenge was compounded by the amount of resources required for materializing the suggested solutions which meant that strong business cases were required to be built.

Having identified hiring of right profiles in terms of age, education and work experience ndash; as a critical parameter impacting attrition, I suggested that a new hiring model be created based on analysis of historical demographic data. The proposed outcome was a set of profiles which would lead to lower probability of attrition among new hires. The recruitment head, however, was reluctant to accept the benefit of a new model over the existing one. Similar situations were faced for recommendations corresponding to other critical factors.

In order to overcome the challenge of convincing the leadership team, I always substantiated the recommendations with analysis and statistical proofs. I used six-sigma tools to provide a strong basis for implementation of proposed solutions. In addition, I used the approach of conducting pilot implementation to highlight potential benefits of recommendations. Through these steps, I was able to present a substantial validation in front of senior management and influence the leadership team to permeate the implementation across the organization.

After a span of eleven months the project was successfully completed and Bangalore Business Unit boasted of lowest attrition rates among other units in India. One key learning from this exercise was that team work is about situational leadership and that a logical approach when used with rigor can be used to overcome all hurdles. In this project I used six-sigma tools which strengthened my analytical reasoning abilities. Moreover, handling of numerous situations which required convincing a cross functional team enhanced my skills in persuasiveness and in leading a team towards a common goal. In this project I was required to get tasks done from different team members, which helped me develop strong people management skills. This project also emphasized certain areas of improvement for me. While working with team members from multiple entities, I observed that some people are impeccable in their deliverables and others require constant supervision and need to be dealt with apposite professional aggression. In some situations I gave way to camaraderie where professionally aggressive approach was required. I need to develop this skill as I move on to take higher responsibilities.

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