Michael Bulzan

MBA '03

Regional Director, Europe
Duke's Fuqua School of Business

You recently joined the Fuqua team as the Regional Director for Europe. Why did you choose this role?

My connection to Fuqua has stayed quite strong since my days on campus. As a second-year Daytime MBA student I was on the Admissions Travel Team and always had an great time talking to prospective students about our MBA programs. After moving back to Europe in early 2007, I was able to help with various admissions and global residency initiatives and, more recently, served on Fuqua's European Regional Advisory Board. So a big part of my decision to apply had to do with a very positive experience as an ambassador for Fuqua and a keen sense of "fit" for this role in the region. It also made a big difference that several key members of the Fuqua team encouraged me to pursue this and eventually gave me a much-appreciated vote of confidence. Finally, this job is one in which my wife, Laura, can cheer me on with unqualified enthusiasm, as she is herself a Duke MBA!

What excites you the most about this new position?

There is something truly special about having a compelling value proposition to talk to people about: the quality of The Duke MBA experience for students and the value that a Duke MBA can bring to an organization. The fact that I can do this passionately and credibly, being myself a product of the business school, as well as in the company of many former classmates and friends old and new, makes my job all the more exciting.

What did you do professionally before you joined the Fuqua team?

After spending almost four years in New York City, working for a telecommunications company, my wife and I moved back to our home country of Romania and took over the management of a family business. The portfolio of companies included automotive franchises for BMW, Opel and Chevrolet, as well as lease financing and insurance brokerage. We also invested in an advertising agency and started a management consulting firm. It was fun to be able to apply a lot of what we accumulated in business school, and we were fortunate to put together a great team of executives that could manage each of these businesses independently.

What is the biggest challenge you've faced professionally?

The most complex challenge had to do with the advertising industry in our region over the past two years. The economic downturn caused many clients to cut their marketing budgets, the public's understanding about the value of premium advertising was not deep enough, and staff turnover at the agency was high due to the demanding schedule and to competing "romantic" notions about the freedom and possibilities of freelance work. As always, the key to dealing with such a context is effective internal and external communication and careful relationship building, as well as making those strategic organizational adjustments that add value in the long term.

What sorts of interesting places has your career taken you? Do you have a favorite?

As a BMW retail partner, I was fortunate to participate in several new model launches around the world. One of the most memorable moments for me, as a sports car enthusiast, was driving the new BMW 335i on Portugal's Estoril Race Circuit. I really like extreme roller-coasters, but nothing beats racetrack driving!

Aside from working on the Fuqua team, what is your dream job?

Romania's Ambassador to the US or the UK.

What do you like to do outside of work?

When I am home, I try to play tennis a few times each week. My 7-year-old son, Alex, has been taking lessons for almost two years now, so we sometimes hang out on the tennis court together. Besides that, I enjoy reading biographies and other non-fiction (especially on behavioral economics and related topics).

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?

The importance of mutual accountability in the context of a team. It is what makes or breaks both one's credibility and the success of any enterprise.

Who was your favorite professor?

This will probably sound self-serving, seeing as he is now my boss, but I really liked Bill Boulding. It also helped that "Strategy" was my favorite course.

What is your favorite Fuqua memory?

The "campout" adventure was incredible! I was in the infamous (back then, at least) Section 4, and we contributed a fair bit of folklore to those days and nights—not just for our colleagues in other sections, but also for our neighbors from the School of Law. In addition to the basketball memories, I would mention my first day of work behind the counter of the Student Kiosk. Fascinating S2S (student-to-student) retail experience, before the Fox Center days.

What does "Team Fuqua" mean to you?

A sense of camaraderie that springs from shared values—not just shared objectives. Oh, and a healthy distrust of all things UNC.